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What’s the best sleep position for my baby?

baby girl sleeping in her back

Key points:
1. Babies need a lot of sleep during the early months.
2. The safest sleeping position is on their back.
3. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) risk is reduced with back sleeping.
4. Create a safe sleep environment: appropriate crib, firm surface, no loose objects, comfortable temperature.

During the first months of your little one’s life, they will spend most of the time sleeping. During this stage, sleep will be essential for getting some well-deserved rest and growing in a healthy way. That’s why it is important to know some safety measures and what’s the best sleeping position for your baby.

Remember that every baby is different and that, sometimes, your pediatrician will recommend a different position to cover your child’s specific needs. However, the general recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is that, during the first six months, babies should sleep on their backs.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

During their first year of life, any baby has a risk of suffering the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This phenomenon is still a mystery and the causes are not clear. However, recent findings suggest that when babies sleep on their tummies, they receive less oxygen or can’t exhale enough carbon dioxide. That’s why sleeping on their back is a safer position for your baby since that reduces the probability of suffering SIDS.

Safe sleep environment and sleep positions

Besides the security measure that we’ve already mentioned, there are other important considerations that will contribute to creating a safe environment where your baby can sleep. These are some of them:

Choose a safe crib, bassinet, or bed.

Your baby needs to sleep in a place that follows certain security measures. Frequently check the bed frame to know when it’s time to change it. Make sure it’s not too old or missing any important pieces. Also, the mattress should fit the bedframe correctly.


The best place to sleep is on a firm and safe surface.

Avoid laying your little one on a soft and porous surface. It’s also important to keep the crib free of any loose objects such as pillows, blankets, toys, stuffed animals, etc. These increase the risk of suffocation while your baby sleeps.

Consider sharing the room, but not the bed.

During the first months of life, the AAP recommends babies to sleep in the same room as their parents. However, parents and babies shouldn’t sleep in the same bed. Sharing this sleeping space is a risk for your little one because accidents happen. For example, your baby can get tangled in the bedsheets or you could roll over them.

Perfect temperature.

Keep a pleasant and stable temperature at home. Your baby needs to regulate their body temperature and an optimal one will allow them to feel more comfortable.

Give them a pacifier.

Recent studies show that pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS. Just make sure it is made of one piece, instead of two.

Lastly, if your baby falls asleep in a car seat, stroller, swing, or baby carrier, they should be laid down on a firm surface as soon as possible.

Remember that it’s important that they sleep on their back, but that they also need to spend tummy time while they’re awake, always under an adult’s supervision. This will help them strengthen their upper body muscles, control their head, and will avoid the possibility of developing flat areas on the back of their skull.

Finally, if your baby is already able to roll from their back to their tummy and back, you can let them sleep in this position. Just make sure that their crib is object-free. Also, it’s very likely that as they grow, they’ll be more active even while sleeping. So, don’t worry if they can’t stay in just one position. Allow them to sleep in a way that’s more comfortable for them and check them often to make sure everything’s fine.

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3 Responses

  1. What about when your baby can only roll from back to tummy? My 4.5 month old keeps rolling onto his tummy in his sleep but doesn’t have the ability to roll back yet.

    1. Hi, Imogen! Babies can roll from back to tummy when they’re about 5 or 6 months, because they need stronger neck and arm muscles for that movement.

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