New parents quickly learn that their child may fall asleep in a variety of interesting sleeping positions. However, there are guidelines for safe sleep that you should follow for infants and toddlers, as well as general best practices for older children to sleep comfortably. We’ll cover these best sleeping positions for each age group below:
Infant Safe Sleep Practices
For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that infants be placed on their backs for sleep. In addition, all stuffed animals and decorative blankets or pillows should be removed from the crib during sleep. The safest way to position your baby for sleep is flat on their back with a tight-fitting sheet or swaddle on a firm mattress. This is because of the increased risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) within the first year of life.
Most experts recommend against co-sleeping for at least the first six months of life. If you’d like to be able to keep an eye on them, you can have your child’s crib in the same bedroom as you.
Toddler Safe Sleep Practices
As your child grows, they will begin to naturally turn over in their sleep, settling on their sides. It is ok to allow this as long as your child can safely roll back over to their backs and there are no unnecessary soft objects in the crib with them.
At this age, the risk of SIDS has largely passed, but maintaining a safe sleep environment is still crucial. Once your child has started attempting to climb out of their crib, you may want to begin transitioning them to a toddler bed or floor bed. The use of baby monitors can also help you be aware of what is going on in your child’s room.
Best Sleeping Positions for Children
Older children who are no longer at risk of SIDS or any other dangers of sleep should still be encouraged to sleep in positions that are supportive of their developing bodies.
Proper back and neck support is important for children and adults of all ages. While you may be concerned about your child’s sleeping position, at this age, any position is considered normal, healthy and safe. Through the use of a supportive mattress and pillow, your child should be able to find a comfortable sleep position that works for them, whether it’s on their stomach, back, or side.
In fact, children who sleep on their sides or in the fetal position may benefit from increased lymphatic drainage, better blood circulation, improved acid reflux symptoms, improved digestion, the prevention of snoring, and decreased back pain. Back sleeping can also be a great neutral position for many kids, which relieves acid reflux symptoms.
At this age, your child’s body likely knows what it needs, so encourage your child to sleep in whatever position feels the most natural for them.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s safe sleep, give us a call today to discuss your needs with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians.