The position your baby is placed to sleep in each night is one of the most important factors in ensuring they are sleeping as safely as possible.
In fact, research has shown that there is a connection between a babies sleeping position and their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). From birth, the safest position for a baby to sleep is on their back.
Although in the past (before 1991) parents were told to sleep infants on their stomach, the change in advice and the introduction of numerous campaigns to promote safe sleep practices such as placing baby to sleep on their back has seen over 8,000 lives saved.
Today, research has shown that a baby’s risk of dying suddenly and unexpectedly is increased if they are sleeping on their tummy, with that risk even greater if sleeping on their stomach under heavy bedding or if their head become covered by bedding. Likewise, sleeping an infant on its side is associated with a significantly increased risk of SIDS.
The best way to make sure your baby sleeps on their back is to do this from day one, ensuring you always place them to sleep on their back for every day and night sleep.
Parents often worry that if a baby sleeps on their back, it can be dangerous if they vomit. Babies who vomit regularly should still be placed on their back to sleep as it is protective of their airways. If you are worried about your baby choking on vomit, it might help to know that healthy babies put to sleep on their backs are actually LESS likely to choke on vomit than babies put to sleep on their tummies or sides.
As well as placing your little one to sleep on their back, it is also important not to elevate the sleep surface (lifting the cot or using a pillow) as this alters the sleep environment and can create further risks.
Generally, if your baby is healthy, then it should sleep on its back. However, if you do have any questions or concerns always consult your doctor or specialist as soon as possible.
Its important that we all continue the important education and awareness raising on safer sleep practices for children. As infants are unable to control their own sleeping environment – they are reliant on parents and caregivers to keep them safe. The good news is, there are positive steps that parents and carers can take to make the sleeping environment safer for infants and we will continue to share them with you.