In our section «Ask an expert a question», the reader Jane asks:
«The child learned to roll over at 3 months old and now he loves to fall asleep on his stomach. And when I try to turn him over, he starts screaming. What to do? Should I leave it like this or try to put it on its side? Isn’t it dangerous for a child to sleep on his stomach?»
— If your baby grows and develops according to age, if there is no pathology from the cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological systems, then there are no contraindications for sleeping a child in a position on his stomach.
Moreover, even newborns, including premature babies, in serious condition in intensive care units are laid out on their stomachs.
However, it is important to observe the condition — the surface must be firm and smooth. And this means that the child sleeps on a hard mattress without pillows and other soft parts in which he can «bury himself».
— It is not dangerous for a child to sleep on his stomach if he can turn over on his stomach and back, usually this happens at the age of 5-6 months.
Doctors and scientists in many countries give such recommendations: the safest sleep for a baby is on his back.
If the baby protests when he is turned over from his tummy, it is important whether he is able to easily turn over back on his back at the same time. If yes, you can safely leave him to sleep in a comfortable position for him. If not, it is worth letting him fall asleep in his favorite position, and when he falls asleep, still gently turn him over on his back.
And a few more words about safety: when the baby has learned to turn over, it’s time to stop swaddling him with handles, if you are swaddling. It is better to use a sleeping bag or swaddling with free hands. Then the child, turning over on his stomach, will be able to pull his hands out from under him and not bury his face in the mattress.
It is also very important to remember the basic international safety rules at 3 months: a hard mattress, no blankets, pillows, bumpers, any objects that the baby can nuzzle into. And at least up to 6 months, and preferably up to 1 year, it is important that the child sleeps in the same room with one of the adults.