Our pediatrician says that if our baby sleeps better on his stomach, it is ok for him to do so as long as either me or my wife is watching him. Has anyone else received this advice, and is it ok to do this?

asked 24 Nov '09, 02:13

Matthew%20Jones's gravatar image

Matthew Jones
accept rate: 18%

It's certainly ok to let them sleep on their stomachs while supervised! The only reason for the back-sleeping advice is to help reduce SIDS, so obviously if you're keeping an eye on them that's not an issue. If they roll so that their mouth is covered by the pillow, or stop breathing for any reason, do something about it!

The question wasn't about unsupervised sleep, but note that some people feel the connection between back-sleep and SIDS is less strong then has been assumed (SIDS rates were already on the decline when physicians started recommending back-sleep), and thus may not be worth the other risks and delays associated with habitual back sleep. See, for example, this article.

We did back sleep, in case you're wondering, but we were aware that sentiments (and research) are starting to swing the other direction now and the official recommendations may reverse again in coming years.


answered 24 Nov '09, 03:53

lgritz's gravatar image

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Of course, your baby shouldn't be sleeping anywhere near a pillow anyway http://fsid.org.uk/Page.aspx?pid=426#duvet

(25 Nov '09, 13:04) Meg Stephenson

Both our kids slept on stomachs fairly early on, but in the beginning we put them on their backs - there is a slight foam wedge incline you can use which worked ok. If the baby likes tight swaddling with or without arms, that can sometimes help. There's really nothing you can do to stop it once they can roll over anyway.

When I was a child, pediatric advice was to have babies sleep on stomachs to avoid aspirating vomit or spitup, so...


answered 24 Nov '09, 03:12

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Cade Roux
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Yeah, I slept on my stomach when I was a baby too...

(25 Nov '09, 14:26) JJJ

My parents have had 12 kids. Back in the 80s when I was born, all the experts said not to let babies sleep on their backs, worrying that they would spit up in their sleep and choke on it. I only liked to sleep on my back, so my parents let me do that. By the time experts were telling parents to keep babies off their stomachs, that's the only way my baby siblings would sleep.

So, maybe I'm just not cautious enough, but I'm inclined to let the baby sleep however he or she likes. (We'll see how things actually go though once we have ours sometime in the next month!) :)


answered 24 Nov '09, 05:12

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Our doctor told us it is okay to let our baby sleep on his stomach once he is able to roll over (and thus choose which way he wants to sleep). I still put him to sleep on his back, but he usually rolls over onto his stomach as soon as he falls asleep. If I try to roll him to his back, he either wakes up, or just flips right back over onto his stomach. So, I've stopped trying to roll him over to his back. It does make me nervous that he is sleeping on his stomach. I check on him frequently when he is sleeping on his own. Over night, he sleeps in our bedroom either in his bed in the 'family bed' so that I know he is safe.


answered 25 Nov '09, 05:31

cat_g's gravatar image

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I have never heard of this personally but one of the things I found helpful is an Angel Care Monitor. This baby monitor will warn in 10 seconds and alarm in 20 seconds if baby were to stop breathing. I always found it very very hard to tell just from looking at a baby whether they are breathing normally or not. The Angel Care Monitor gave me great peace of mind.


answered 24 Nov '09, 02:30

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accept rate: 8%


We have friends who used one of these monitors and they said it gave a lot of "false positives" (i.e. it would go off a lot, even when the baby was breathing fine). This was causing them a lot of stress, obviously. Did you find the same?

(25 Nov '09, 12:17) Scott ♦♦

The Foundation for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (FSID) do not recommend the use of such monitors - apparently there is no evidence that they prevent cot death - http://fsid.org.uk/Page.aspx?pid=426#monitors

(25 Nov '09, 13:06) Meg Stephenson

@Scott I was warned against them by our NICU nurses for that reason.

(25 Nov '09, 23:26) ceejayoz

Scott - I did not have a lot of false positives - less than one per month and once we adjusted the sensitivity level we had even fewer. Meg & Ceejayoz - these do not prevent SIDS, the reason I like it is that if my baby is going to stop breathing (for whatever reason), I wanted to know within seconds so that I could go in and resuscitate immediately. I dreaded the thought of finding out hours later that my child died in the next room while I slept peacefully. I could not have lived with myself had that happenned and I didn't do everything in my power to bring her back/save her.

(26 Nov '09, 03:08) dreamerisme

One of the theories about SIDs is that some babies who have a brain stem defect fall into a deep sleep and cannot rouse themselves from it:

it is theorized that some infants have a brain-stem defect which increases their risk of being unable to arouse from SWS (also called deep sleep) and therefore have an increased risk of SIDS due to their decreased ability to arouse from SWS.

(from wikipedia SIDs article)

a lot of the rules to reduce the risk are about preventing babies from falling in to such deep sleeps - babies tend to sleep less deeply on their backs, and less deeply if they are not alone. There is also some belief that hearing other people breathing triggers the baby to breathe.

Breastfed babies are also at significantly lower risk (Vennemann MM, Bajanowski T, Brinkmann B, Jorch G, Yücesan K, Sauerland C, Mitchell EA; GeSID Study Group. Does breastfeeding reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome? Pediatrics. 2009 Mar;123(3):e406-10. PubMed PMID:19254976.).

I think it's one of those things where you weigh up risks and benefits - you'll find yourself doing that a lot over the next 18 years.


answered 25 Nov '09, 13:17

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Meg Stephenson
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I noticed that Louisiana has started a SIDS campaign on twitter and there was a fact I didn't know about use of pacifiers reducing SIDS risk. I found a discussion of risk factors here: http://sids-network.org/risk.htm


answered 04 Dec '09, 19:23

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Cade Roux
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Asked: 24 Nov '09, 02:13

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Last updated: 04 Dec '09, 19:23