Stomach Sleeping and SIDS

Doctors and researchers have determined that stomach sleeping increases an infant’s risk of dying from SIDS. That is why the “Back to Sleep” campaign was implemented and since that time the rates of SIDS have declined. That is important for parents to consider because the risk of SIDS is real and eliminating all risk factors where possible is necessary. Many babies prefer to sleep on their stomachs and are actually more comfortable doing so. However, it is more important for the baby to be as safe as possible than as comfortable as possible. Allowing the baby to sleep on his stomach is essentially putting him at risk for SIDS.

All caregivers of infants should be made aware of the back to sleep campaign and religiously ensure that the infant is put to sleep on his back. As babies grow they eventually can turn themselves over. Some parents put their baby to sleep on his back to wake up and find baby on his stomach. This is normal and parents should respond by turning baby over back on his back.

A firm mattress covered only by a sheet is recommended. Babies should not be put to sleep with pillows, blankets, toys, or anything that could be a breathing hazard. Babies who do not feel comfortable sleeping on their backs should be swaddled tightly to provide a sense of security that allows them to sleep peacefully.

Parents should educate themselves on the risk factors of SIDS and learn how they can reduce risk factors. Some risk factors like being male or born in the winter cannot be reduced, however risk factors like maternal smoking, drug use, overheating, stomach sleeping, and the like can all be avoided. Caring for baby is important and eliminating risk factors for SIDS should be taken very carefully.