How to Position a Sleeping Baby

Sleep position is very important for newborns.

If you are a new mom or dad, it’s only natural that you are waking up in the middle of the night to check on your sleeping baby. However, before your little one drifts off into dreamland, there are some precautions you should be aware of prior to getting ready for bed. In particular, your baby’s sleep position is perhaps the most important.


SIDS risk factors and sleep position

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be positioned on their backs while sleeping in order to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. The AAP states that SIDS leads to more infant deaths in the U.S. before a baby’s first birthday than any other condition.

The causes of SIDS are still a mystery to pediatricians and researchers, but doctors have concluded that babies who rest on their backs receive more oxygen than those who sleep on their sides or stomachs. The AAP does warn that certain medical conditions may require for you to lie your infant on his or her side. If you are uncertain about your baby’s sleeping position based on medical history, it’s important to speak with your pediatrician first.

The National Institutes of Health stated that SIDS prevalence has declined significantly since the mid-1990s, but it’s still important to follow sleep positioning guidelines for your infant.

Pacifiers can help babies get more comfortable in their sleeping positions.
Pacifiers can help babies get more comfortable in their sleeping positions.

Sleep position 101

With these facts in mind, it’s important as a new parent to put your baby to sleep properly. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep pillows, blankets, toys or loose bedding out of the baby’s crib as you position him or her for sleep. Instead, lay your baby on a firm and sturdy sleep surface, like a safety-approved crib mattress and a fitted sheet. Many new parents worry about their child growing cold in the middle of the night with no blankets, but with proper pajamas (like one-pieces) your baby should stay warm. There are also blanket sleepers and sleep sacks available for infants to stay warm.
  • Pacifiers can help get your baby asleep faster once he or she is placed in the proper sleep position. However, according to the NIH, you should let the baby choose to take the pacifier rather than force it.
  • Get into a routine before bedtime. Like adults, babies operate on a consistent schedule. Whether you go for a walk, spend some time in a rocker or listen to music before bed, make sure that the baby gets into a routine in order for him or her to get better acquainted with the sleep positioning and schedule.
  • Do keep your baby close, but separate from your bed. Even if you are getting up to breastfeed, be sure to return the newborn to his or her own sleeping area. It’s fine to keep your baby in the same room as you, but in order to keep a healthy baby positioning, you should have your own designated sleeping spaces. A crib is usually the most popular, but there are also bedside co-sleepers available if you want to stay closer to the baby during the night.