"My Baby Sleeps on His Tummy—So What?"

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put baby to sleep on back or belly

photo by Geminiashes

The AAP recommends that babies

sleep on their backs

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be put to sleep on their backs because research shows it helps reduce the risk of SIDS. And ever since pediatricians have told moms to put babies on their backs SIDS deaths have indeed declined. The AAP also says that side sleeping is not the same as back sleeping and it's not advised. However, babies do need to spend time on their bellies so their muscles develop properly, but tummy time should take place only when the baby is awake and someone is watching them.

Okay, so we all know that's what we're supposed to do. But what do you really do?


Natalie Morales, the co-anchor of the Today show, recently confessed that she put her newborn to sleep on his stomach. She writes: "I let my newborn sleep on his stomach. I know, I know, being a journalist, I've read all the research that says to put babies on their back to sleep. But Luke was very colicky, and it turned out he had GERD, so his digestive system was really immature. Whenever he slept on his back, he'd grunt like he was in pain ... since he seemed much happier on his tummy, that's how I let him sleep. And guess what? We can both sleep better at night because of it. Is that such a bad thing?"

I put my baby to sleep on her back, but as soon as she could roll over by herself, she'd get onto her tummy as fast as she could. I think she was more comfortable sleeping that way. I sleep on my stomach too. (The AAP says that belly sleeping is okay once a baby has mastered rolling over.)

What do you think of Natalie Morales's confession? Do you let your baby sleep on his tummy? Or do you follow the AAP's recommendations?

sids, sleep

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nonmember avatar Michelle

My two-week-old sleeps on his tummy and loves it. He takes great naps and only wakes up 1x/night to eat. This is my third child. My first two slept on their backs, which required swaddling, swinging, lots of soothing and pacifiers. Risk of SIDS is very low even when a baby sleeps on his/her tummy -- the big "reduction" in SIDS cited constantly is from 1.2 deaths per 1000 infants in 1992 to .56 deaths per 1000 infants in 2001 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14518553) and the numbers have not changed much since then. For me this change is not significant enough to deprive my baby or my husband & me of a decent night's sleep for months on end, so we are very happy with our decision to let baby sleep on his tummy. "Back to Sleep" seems like brainwashing to me, and to keep robotically repeating the recommendation without also pointing out the actual, minuscule odds of a baby succumbing to SIDS whether they are on their back or tummy is grossly deceptive. Insistence on back sleeping displays a callous lack of concern for both babies' and parents' basic human need for sleep, and ignores potential ill-effects of back sleeping, which have not been thoroughly assessed, but which definitely include flattened heads and sleep deprivation for babies and parents.

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