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My baby won't sleep on his back, is this ok?

My baby is 15 weeks old. I put him on his back to sleep and he turns to his side for awhile then sleeps on his stomach.

I am concerned - is this ok? If not, how do I keep him on his back. He rolls over from back to stomach also since 8 weeks old.

Elizabeth Walenz | Pediatrician

Elizabeth Walenz

This is a very timely question. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement on safe sleep practices for babies. The short answer to your question is, yes, this is okay.

The recommendations are to always put your infant to sleep on his/her back until one year of age. The child may scoot or roll around in the crib after you lay him/her down. You do not need to constantly reposition the child to lay on his/her back.

Safe Sleep Recommendations

The important thing to remember is to make sure that the environment is a safe sleep environment:

  • The crib or bassinet mattress should be firm and covered with a fitted sheet.
  • The sleep environment should be free of hazards including dangling cords from blinds or electric cords.
  • Keep soft objects, loose bedding and bumper pads out of the crib. This helps to reduce any suffocation risks. 
  • Dress the child appropriately in well fitting clothing that will not obstruct the mouth or nose.
  • The child should wear temperature appropriate clothing and avoid over-heating. In general, I recommend that the infant wear one layer more than the parents are wearing in the same room.
  • Avoid any smoke exposure for the infant as this can increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
  • Breastfeeding has been found to help reduce the risk of SIDS, also pacifiers with naptime and bedtime have been found to be protective against SIDS.
  • Room sharing has been shown to be beneficial in the reduction of SIDS. The definition of room sharing is sleeping in the same room as your infant. Bedsharing or co-sleeping is not advised as this can increase the suffocation risk and risk of SIDS.
  • The AAP does not recommend any sleep positioners or wedges for newborn sleep. The safest way for your baby to sleep is alone in his/her crib.
Read more answers by Dr. Walenz