What position is best for a baby to sleep in? Some experts say that the best position is to keep it as natural as possible by allowing a baby to sleep in the mother's tummy. But what about the baby's sleep position?
Experts think that infants who sleep on their stomachs may start out with breathing difficulties because of not getting the right support from their stomach. The stomach tends to constrict during sleep, resulting in a combination of reduced oxygen flow and increased acidity. In most cases the acidity will be too high, leading to distress.
While many post-nursing mothers and doctors agree that babies should not sleep on their backs, it's less clear whether there is any advantage in sleeping with your baby on his or her back. Since babies do so as newborns, a mother may want to sleep with her baby on her back and consider the newborn position only when she feels the need to change positions.
Babies who sleep in the supine position tend to be more comfortable and may be able to go without as much disturbance. This may be a good choice if your baby isn't able to sleep on her back, but not necessarily for those who are able to sleep on their backs. Some parents argue that the sleeping position of a newborn can be likened to a breastfed baby. But it's a mistaken assumption that this position makes it easier for a newborn to feed.
Experts agree that a baby should sleep on its stomach with two pillows, not just one, and that top baby bedding products are designed for the supine position. If you use an adjustable bed, consider the type of mattress you use. They are usually more supportive for a baby's tummy and may allow a baby to sleep with his or her head in a more elevated position.
Sleep positions are probably best thought of as a spectrum. It's helpful to see it like this, instead of trying to get your baby to sleep in the "best" position. One of the best things that parents can do is allow their baby to choose his or her own sleeping position.
Sometimes a parent doesn't need to force a baby to sleep in a particular position. He or she may simply get into a routine of waking and laying down at a certain time. It's hard to make a fuss over such a time-honored way of parenting.
Cuddling with a baby is always an option for good sleep. Parents need to remember to give the baby a chance to fall asleep. A baby needs a few hours of sleep every day.
Of course, just a few hours of sleep every day is never enough to enjoy a good night's sleep. An infant's sleep needs are different than an adult's. And feeding problems or other conditions may make it difficult for a baby to sleep through the night.
If the baby is unable to sleep in the typical sleeping position, there may be other causes for the problem. These could include infantile colic, colic in the first three months, frequent vomiting or regurgitation, or poor diet. Sometimes these factors are contributing factors, but sometimes they are merely symptoms of a larger problem.
Sleep position might be important to babies who are breastfed. Babies who sleep on their stomachs may sleep for longer periods, which helps to prevent reflux and therefore constipation. Another benefit to babies who sleep on their backs is that they don't bounce up and down as much as babies who sleep on their stomachs, which can sometimes contribute to fussy stomachs.
Parents need to look beyond the length of time babies sleep and focus on how well they sleep. They also need to know the exact sleeping position their baby prefers. That way, they can maximize the time they spend doing what their baby needs, such as feeding.