Infant Sleep Position/SIDS and Tummy Time


Parents and caregivers should place healthy infants on their backs when putting them down to sleep. Recent studies have shown a connection between prone (tummy) sleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Research has shown that since this “Back to Sleep” recommendation has been reinforced with parents by their pediatricians, the US rate of SIDS has decreased by 40%. There is no evidence that sleeping on the back is harmful for healthy infants.

Keep the following points in mind:

  • Placing a child on his/her back is now the only recommended sleeping position for healthy infants. Other sleep positions are recommended in rare cases for infants with certain medical conditions.
  • Do not put your baby to sleep on soft surfaces or with pillows or stuffed toys. They can cover an infants airway.
  • A certain amount of “tummy time” while the baby is awake and observed, is recommended at least 3 to 4 times a day for up to 15 minutes each time. Many babies don’t like it at first. Encourage this by getting down and playing with baby.
  • Flattening of the head begins to occur at about 2 months of age whenever one part of the head repetitively rests on the mattress. Babies often spend almost 100% of their time on their backsinfant car seats, bouncy seats, strollers). This can lead to Positional Head molding.

To decrease the occurrence or if you notice a flat spot developing on your baby’s head: Place baby in crib with head at opposite end (so that he has to turn his head opposite of the flat spot to see into the room).

  • If the baby doesn’t like tummy time, roll up a towel and place it under his chest/arms. This will lift his head a little so he can see better.
  • Place a rolled towel or receiving blanket behind the shoulder on the flat side.
  • While holding baby in the crook of your arm (while bottle feeding for example)  work on using your opposite arm. This will be tricky at first. Right handed people usually hold the baby in the crook of the left arm and lefty’s vice versa.
  • Dramatically reduce the amount of time the baby spends on his back. Try using a front carrier when out and about.
  • Carry baby o the opposite hip that you usually do to encourage baby to look the other way.
  • Place toys on the opposite side so baby has to look the other way. Babies are curious.
  • Talk to your pediatrician