When Can Your Baby Sleep on Their Stomach?
Little Yawn Collective - Sep 20, 2021
Let’s just be honest: babies are confusing, especially when it comes to sleep.
They don’t exactly come with detailed manuals or in-depth ‘how-to’ guides on how to keep them alive, and it’s not like they can verbally tell us when something is wrong.
In fact, some might even say taking care of a little one can be a lot like a guessing game at times—but when it comes to sleep, one wrong guess could spell disaster.
That being said, for new parents, the number one question is universal yet complex: how in the world do we get this tiny new creature to drift off to la-la land not just sooner rather than later, but safely?
Certainly, you’ve been bombarded with mountains of advice the moment word got out that there was a bun in the oven, from well-meaning grannies and friends claiming to be “baby whisperers” to opinionated family members and strangers at the local market.
“Just flip your little one to their belly!” They tell you.
“Babies prefer to sleep on their stomachs.” They say.
And while you can appreciate all the free help you can get, when it comes to matters of safety, it’s of the utmost importance to gather as much reliable information as you can.
In other words, knowing about official sleep recommendations and guidelines is key for keeping your most precious treasure safe and healthy.
So, when can your baby safely sleep on their stomach, you ask? We’ll tell you.
Read on as we explore the adorable world of baby sleep to discover what the experts say about keeping your little buddy safe and sound as they snooze.
Why Should Babies Sleep on Their Backs?
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of when your baby can start catching ZZZs on their tummy, let’s first talk a little bit about why it’s so critical that they sleep on their back.
Sleeping face up, on the other hand, is thought to allow your little buddy’s respiratory system to strengthen and develop naturally, helping them to breathe in more oxygen as they snooze and therefore reducing the risk of potential harm.
At What Age Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomachs?
According to the experts over at the AAP, it’s critical to place babies on their backs until they’ve reached their first birthday.
This recommendation applies to all sleep times, including both naps and overnight. Typically, at this stage, babies are able to sit without support and can roll back to the front. This requires good head and trunk control, suggesting the little one is strong enough to roll back to safety if needed.
What Should I Do If My Baby Keeps Rolling Over?
You’ve done your part and put your tiny tuckered tot to sleep on their back. But as every new parent knows, regardless of how exhausted you are, you can’t help but wake in the middle of the night to check on your sweet dreaming angel just to make sure they didn’t roll over.
Well, we have good news for you (and your sleep). Babies who can change positions easily generally have the agility to protect themselves from whatever it is about tummy sleeping that increases the risk of potential dangers.
That being said, to be safe, your little chickpea should be rolling over consistently in both directions, back to tummy and tummy to back, before you start leaving them in their preferred sleeping position.
If your baby isn’t consistently rolling just yet, but somehow keeps ending up on their belly while they snooze, then you need to ever-so-gently return them to their back (and cross your fingers they don’t stir too much).
Here are a few awesome tips to help keep your bundle of joy from rolling over to snooze tummy-down.
Babies tightly wrapped like little burritos are happy as can be! When snug-as-a-bug in a cozy swaddle, babies recall the familiar feeling of living in their mom’s belly—when everything was comfortable, safe, and calm.
This familiarity can quickly soothe the fussiest of tots, keeping them from wriggly in their sleep and rolling onto their stomachs. Plus, it may also help prevent babies from startling themselves awake during their slumber. What’s not to love?
Note: While swaddling does an excellent job of keeping babies feeling safe and secure, once they begin to roll over consistently, it’s best to opt-out of swaddling and swap to a sleep sack that allows their itty-bitty arms to be free.
Why? Because if your little wiggle worm wriggles out of a swaddle, causing the blanket to be loose, it could become a suffocation hazard.
Give your sweet cherub a binkie when you put them down to sleep. Having something to suck on can be super soothing. Plus, it’s much harder for little ones to keep a pacifier in their mouths if they roll over onto their bellies, so it’s an effective tactic that tends to work well at keeping them right where they’re supposed to be when they snooze—on their backs.
Creating a Soothing Sleep Space
To help your infant sleep safely and soundly through the night without tossing and turning, create a soothing sleep space that promotes, well, sleep. Not sure how? Here are a few effective ideas.
- Keep the nursery dark: Light pushes your little buddy’s biological “go” button. Darkness, on the flip side, triggers the brain to naturally release melatonin—the sleep hormone. If early morning sunlight prompts your dreaming tot to wake too early, or if they struggle going down for an afternoon cat-nap, black-out curtains just might be able to help.
- Set the thermostat for sweet dreams: Experts suggest that a cool room, between 68 and 72 degrees, is the perfect temperature to bring on the sleepies. While it may seem a bit on the cool side, babies can overheat if the nursery is too warm.
- Adopt a baby beddy-bye routine: Did you know that science says routines lead to better sleep for little ones? Yup, it’s true —a good sleep regimen can help your tiny tot fall asleep earlier, faster, and for longer. Work on creating a stress-free sleep ritual that begins about an hour before bedtime.
You can start with a warm bath using our Soothing Shampoo and Body Wash, followed by an infant massage using our Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat and Shea Butter. All of our products contain our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance, crafted by expert perfumers with ingredients like french lavender and cold pressed bergamot scientifically proven to create an environment that helps with falling asleep and staying asleep.
From there, you can move on to quiet bonding time in a dimly lit room. Reading bedtime stories and singing to your snuggly angel are excellent bonding activities that promote relaxation before it’s time to hit the hay. As your tiny tuckered tot begins to yawn, give them a sweet goodnight kiss before gently placing them on their back in the crib to snooze.
How Can I Keep My Baby Safe at Night?
It goes without saying that those Instagram pictures of nurseries chock-full of cozy blankets, accent pillows, and stuffed animals are undeniably adorable, but when it comes down to baby sleep, a boring sleep space is the best sleep space.
While it might be tempting to make your little buddy’s crib extra cozy, the AAP recommends keeping soft objects and loose bedding out of the snoozing area for at least the first 12 months because they can trap your baby, block their airway, and increase the risk of danger.
Here are a few more tips to help keep your little dreamer safe at night.
Have a Firm Sleep Surface
Using a firm mattress that doesn’t indent when your sweetie pie is lying on it will ensure that they get all the support they need to catch some quality ZZZs comfortably and safely.
Let Them Sleep Alone
Always place your little one back in their own sleep space when it’s time for bedtime.
While it might be tempting to bring your snuggly baby to bed with you to cuddle and sleep, bed-sharing is extremely dangerous.
Share a Room
The AAP recommends that you and your tiny tot sleep in the same room (not the same bed) for the first six months, or better yet—until their first birthday. Plus, sharing a room with your little chickpea will make it a million times easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby.
Should I Ever Put My Baby To Sleep on Their Stomach?
The answer? No.
Unless advised by your pediatrician, you should never ever put your bundle of joy to sleep lying face down during their first year, as this can greatly increase the risk of potential dangers.
Some parents believe that putting a baby on their back can cause them to aspirate their own vomit and not be able to breathe, but this myth has long been disproven. That said, there is really no reason why your infant should ever snooze belly-down before their first birthday.
Unless, of course, you’ve got a rolly-polly baby on your hands that has mastered the art of rolling and can roll in both directions with ease, then it’s generally A-OK to let your wriggly tot sleep in this position.
But even if it seems as though they have rolled down to a science, keep placing your little buddy on their back to sleep—at least for the first 12 months.
So, when can your darling angel sleep on their stomach, you ask?
The AAP recommends placing your tiny tot to sleep on their back up until their first birthday.
However, if your baby is at least six months of age and able to roll intentionally and consistently, they’re likely okay to snooze belly-down, provided that there are no hazards such as loose blankets or stuffed animals in the crib.
At Little Yawn Collective, we know firsthand how difficult sleep can be for both you and your little buddy. That’s why we created science-backed sleep solutions specifically formulated for children—so parents can rest easy too!
Check us out today for sweet dreams tomorrow. Trust us, your sleep will thank us later.