As new mamas, the message has been cemented into our head from the very first moment we meet our pediatricians. Babies need to sleep in a crib, on a hard mattress, on their backs, with nothing else in the crib. The facts don’t lie. About 3,400 babies in the U.S. die suddenly and unexpectedly every year while sleeping, often due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental deaths from suffocation or strangulation. But according to every mother-in-law on the planet, we all used to sleep face down and slept sooo much better for it. So in an effort to clear up all the myths surrounding infant sleep, we’re doing a little Q&A…with ourselves….where we’re tackling these questions and more.
So…what gives? Can my babe sleep on their stomach? (My MIL says it’s fine!)
NO. Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night. Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die of SIDS than babies who sleep on their stomachs or sides. While some parents worry that babies will choke when on their backs, a baby’s actual airway and the gag reflex will keep that from happening.
But what if they roll onto their stomachs?
While you should always place your baby to sleep on the back, if your baby has reached the point where they can roll both ways (back to tummy, tummy to back), then you do not have to return your baby to the back. However, be sure that there are no blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, or bumper pads around your baby, so that your baby does not roll into any of those items, which could block airflow.
Wait, speaking of which, what about bumpers? Lovies? Cute little stuffies?
NO. Keep soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area. These include pillows, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, blankets, toys, bumper pads or similar products that attach to crib slats or sides. If you’re worried about your baby getting cold, you can use infant sleep clothing, such as a wearable blanket.
In fact, bumpers might soon become a thing of the past. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress to ban the sale of crib bumpers, which pediatricians have long said are unnecessary and pose a deadly risk to sleeping babies.
The bill, called the Safe Cribs Act, would also make it illegal in the U.S. to manufacture, distribute, or import crib bumpers. The padding is considered dangerous because babies can roll over and press their faces against the material, leading to suffocation. (The bill was introduced by Senators Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.)
What if my babe passes out while I’m nursing on a boppy?
Do not let your child fall asleep on nursing pillows or pillow-like lounging pads. The CPSC warns that babies may roll over onto their sides or stomachs and turn their heads into the soft fabric. Also, when propped up on an incline against the pillow or lounger, their heads can fall forward, blocking their airway. Also, never put your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair. This is an extremely dangerous place for your baby to sleep.