At your pregnancy, you might have tried to sleep on your side. More specifically, sleeping on your left side keeps the baby in a better position. It also ensures better nutrition flow. Sometimes you might have to struggle to remain in that position the whole night.

However, once the baby’s born and when he has to sleep on a crib its normal that he also imitates to sleep on his side. Even babies at 6-8 weeks are also seen sleeping on their side. Now the question, is it safe that babies sleeping on their side?

As an adult, you may find this question quite stupid. Sleeping on your side is absolutely ok with you once you have the correct pillow and mattress. But you have to keep in mind that the body structure of a baby is quite different from you. Besides, newborns and also the older babies pass most of the time of the day sleeping. It’s quite important that your baby’s sleeping well as it’s related to your baby’s growth. So it’s your job to monitor whether he’s getting the proper sleep or sleeping in the correct position or not.

Babies Sleeping On Their Side

Rolling over is a part of your baby’s natural growth system. In fact, it’s a way of transportation for your baby before he/she starts crawling. He rolls over to grab a toy or to reach closer to you or a place he wants to move. So you can expect that sometimes he rolls over from his back to tummy or vice versa. However, it needs a lot of strength for your baby to manage himself rolling over on his side or tummy. In fact, rolling over is an indicator that your baby’s internal organs are strong now. He’s then prepared to alter his sleeping position if face problems breathing. Also, there’s less risk that your baby may choke herself while sleeping. However small the fact is, learning or being able to roll over is absolutely a milestone in your baby’s life. So if your baby rolls over his side or back by himself, you should appreciate it and let him sleep in that position. But there is a boundary of age.

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When do Babies Learn to Sleep on Their Side?

In most of the cases, babies around 5-6 months can roll over to their side themselves. Some babies start rolling over at their 3rd or 4th month of birth. Again some start learning at 7-9 months. Every kid is different. So it’s ok that your baby learns it earlier or later.

Usually, babies learn to roll over on their stomach after about a month they start to flip onto the backs.

So When Should You Allow Your Baby To Sleep On His Side?

But should you allow him to stay that way? Well, it depends on his age. No matter how earlier they learn to roll over, you shouldn’t allow them to sleep on sides until they’re 12 months old. It’s because babies under this age may learn to roll over but can’t roll back again. This increases the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. If you allow your baby to sleep on his side, there are chances that his face gets smothered into the mattress. They won’t be able to help themselves by rolling back again.
So if he starts sleeping on his side, you must change his habit. Make him sleep on his back every time he rolls over to his side. Training him to sleep on his back and keeping an eye on him is how you can avoid child death.

4-Month-Old Sleeping On Side

If your baby has started sleeping on his side at his 4th month, then it’s earlier than normal. However, babies at this age aren’t able to turn from his back to stomach. He may turn only from his stomach to the back and back to the side. So if you find your baby sleeping like that, turn him to his back. He may wake up and start crying. Then make him sleep again. He can turn over in the middle of his sleep. You may not be able to keep an eye all the time like in the middle of the night. So make sure that you choose such a baby pillow and baby blanket that’s rigid enough not to smother his face.

5-Month-Old Sleeping On Side

Again it’s normal that your 5-month-old baby started rolling over from his tummy to back. Most of the baby learns this skill at this very age. At yet they aren’t prepared to sleep on their side as he hasn’t mastered it. However, it’s time you started training him to sleep on his back and not to fell asleep while lying on his side.

8 Week Old Sleeping On Side

Most of the time they stay asleep in the position you lay him down in the bed. So you need not worry about turning over on his tummy or side sleeping so often. Until 3 to 4 months, babies use to lay flat in the crib unless you turn him on his side.

1-Month-Old Sleeping On Side

Babies at 8h weeks are a bit older than newborns. But it’ll be better if you start training him to stay asleep on his back from the very beginning. Following are the practices you can try-

  • Make a firm and plain crib.
  • Always lay down your baby to the crib on his back
  • Do not use any baby wedges or sleep positioners

8-Month-Old Sleeping On Side

If he just leans to roll over and sleep on his side at his 9th month, it’s late than average children do. But nothing to worry because learning it late is also normal. It depends upon the child’s nature. But this doesn’t mean your baby necessarily has a defect or will learn everything else slower than other. Still, there’s a chance that he may learn it late how to turn over from tummy-to-back by himself. If so, wait until he’s completely prepared. But don’t let him sleep on his side even if he becomes 12 months old.

9-Month-Old Sleeping On His Side

Babies at this age are active enough to move in his/her sleep resulting in bizarre postures of sleeping. They start crawling and moving up to the cot and take a horizontal position.

But he’s not able to turn from tummy to his back yet. So consider training himself to fall and stay asleep on their back. While your baby is learning to roll over, you shouldn’t keep him swaddled anymore as it won’t be safe. Rather you should transfer him to a sleeping bag. These baby-sleep sacks allow his tiny foot to push without any restriction. So he can safely turn over back and forth.

You can tuck the grow bag into the crib or mattress. This will prevent him from rolling over. He may learn to turn from his tummy to back shortly after he starts sleeping on his side. But still, you shouldn’t let him before he gets properly skilled.

Why Sleeping On A Side Isn’t Safe For Newborns?

The chances of SIDS are enough to consider side sleeping as dangerous for babies. But there are also some other issues regarding your babies health that you should keep in mind.

1. Choking

Sleeping on a side can cause shortness of breath by creating torsion in the trachea. It can lead to the choking by accumulation spit around the opening of his windpipe. This can worsen if the baby topples to his tummy from side sleeping position. This is one of the common sources of SIDS.

2. Unilateral erythema

Also known as Harlequin color change. It’s a condition where the side on which the baby’s sleeping for hours turns pink to red. At this condition, the half of the baby’s body will be red and the other half will be normal colored. A distinct demarcation exists at the center of the body. Almost 10% of the baby has this condition usually in his 1st week. Why this happens is still a mystery. But experts suspect baby’s immature blood vessels as the prime reason. Red blood cell accumulation can also be another reason for this.
But the good news is that it’s not going to last long. It disappears within minutes of switching the sleeping position.

3. Torticollis

It’s an abnormal neck condition where the neck of the baby tilts in one direction. And when the muscle connecting the clavicle with the lateral side of your baby’s head gets shortened. It’s also a condition related to the sleeping position of your baby. Like the bones, baby’s muscles are also soft and at its growing stage. So on repeated sleeping on the same side or turning the head to the side can shorten the muscles. It can also affect the bone growth.
Adopting safe sleeping postures will help in the long run. You can also try some physical therapies by the recommendation of the doctor. A recovery harness with a soft and comfortable pad helps to push your baby’s head to the other direction.

4. Plagiocephaly or Flatheads

It’s another common but not a serious health issue. If your baby continues sleeping on the same side repeatedly, a flathead may be the consequence. It’s because a baby’s bones and the skull are soft and easily malleable. This means it can expand at the same rate of his brain. So when pressures are exerted on a single spot, it undergoes a change in its shape.
It, at the pressure point, either sinks or becomes concave or flat. Though it heals with time and change of sleeping position, it can stunt the growth of the brain. It restricts the space needed for cranial. It can also occur if the baby sleeps on his back putting his head to the side. Torticollis can also be a reason behind it.
There are baby helmets and braces for correcting flatheads. But make sure that they are recommended by your doctor. Also, they should be manufactured by certified hospitals.

Ways to Prevent Your Baby from Sleeping On His Side

Lay Your Baby Down On His Back

Each time you place him on the bed or his crib to lay him on his back. The best way to avoid SIDS is letting your baby sleeping on his back. That’s why it’s considered as the ideal sleeping position for babies.

Don’t Swaddle Your Baby

Swaddling increases the chances of rolling over by creating a cylindrical surface around him.

Alter Your Baby’s Sleeping Position

You can avoid flathead or Torticollis like conditions by altering the sleeping position. No, obviously your baby shouldn’t sleep on his tummy or side but his back. I am talking about positioning his head. For instance, one night he sleeps resting his head toward the right side. Then make sure the next time he sleeps; his head should rest to his left.

Avoid Placing Extra Supports Besides Him

Many parents consider placing a baby pillow and baby blanket beside the baby. But they don’t do any help in keeping the baby on his back or preventing him from rolling over his side or tummy. Rather, they increase suffocation and choking hazard to the baby. That’s why doctors recommend avoiding both the pillows and blankets for the newborns.

Sleep positioners isn’t a solution

Different types of wedges or sleep positioners can turn out to be dangerous for babies. They can cause suffocation. They can even make your baby sleep on his side.

Final Verdict

New parents often are worried about their babies sleep. Apart from the quality and quantity of sleeping, your baby’s sleeping position is important. All of these together ensure his growth and soundness of health.

This article was concerned about Babies sleeping on their side. But I think we have covered everything related to your baby’s sleeping position. Your baby doesn’t have the control over him. So it’s up to you how safe your baby’s going to be while sleeping.
Happy parenting!

If you are worried about to know, from what age your baby can use blanket you can check out this article.
babies sleeping on their side
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