Risks of Aspiration for Infants who Sleep on Their Backs

Many parents are shocked to learn that they are only supposed to put baby to sleep on his back. This comes as a surprise also to grandparents who were recommended by their pediatricians to put baby to sleep on his stomach. Things have changed a lot over the past few decades and pediatricians now know that by putting baby to sleep on his back the risk of SIDS goes down 10 to 15 times. That’s a very large reduction in the rate of SIDS and certainly worth placing baby on his back to sleep. Some parents have questions, though, about how back sleeping could harm their baby. Luckily, there are no real dangers with putting baby to sleep on his back and certainly very little risk of aspirating stomach contents. In fact, several studies have shown that babies in other countries that have more experience with back sleeping have not found babies to have a higher risk of aspirating vomit or choking.

There have been some studies that show babies who sleep on their backs have a higher incidence of flat had and cradle cap, but those are certainly not risks that are worth avoiding the back sleep position.

Keep in mind that baby only has to be on his back to sleep. During the day “tummy time” is important and it will allow your baby to develop neck muscles, develop motor skills, and let baby see what’s around him. Soon your baby will be able to push and pull himself and will really enjoy the “tummy time.”

Being a parent is filled with worry and concern. However, when you know you are doing the very best you can for your baby you will be able to sit back and relax and enjoy the ups and downs of parenthood.