We all know that sleeping on the side has its benefits of not causing nightmares for us adults and the older kids, but what about the babies and the newborns? Surely, you may have heard the thing known as SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome, which happens when your baby is in an unlikely position to breathe and may have difficulty in breathing overall. This can be quite alarming and this is why you may sometimes question yourself: is it okay for my newborn baby to sleep on their side?
According to most experts, sleeping on the side is generally NOT safe for newborns. In this article, we are going to discuss the factors that make side sleeping quite dangerous for these young babies, as well as the things that you can do to help your baby to sleep on their backs instead.
Downsides of Newborns Sleeping on their Side
Here are some of the most important disadvantages and alarming things that can happen if your baby sleeps on one side only:
1. SIDS or choking
When your baby sleeps on only one side, they will most likely have difficulty in breathing. This is because when they lean to one side, this will cause them to have a choking hazard with the pillow due to the fact that their heads are still too small to go over the depths of the pillows, causing the breathing to be a little bit disrupted.
On the more scientific approach, a person’s windpipe is still not very good when they are young, so it can cause difficulties when they sleep on their side if they are still newborns. Choking is another possible thing that can happen, other than SIDS, and both of these can be fatal, so make sure you keep your baby from going on the side if they are still very young.
2. Torticollis or neck tilting
This is a condition in which one part of your baby’s neck could be slightly deformed due to their side sleeping (in frequency). Torticollis is characterized by side-to-side movements of your baby’s head when they are asleep. This tilting can happen because your baby has very tender muscles that have yet to develop, so they can possibly get hurt when they are sleeping on their side.
Also known as having a flathead syndrome, this affects many babies when they are often staying in one position of sleeping only, especially when they sleep on their side. Just like with the previous reason, this one can happen because of the pressure on your baby’s head and since their muscles are still very soft, it can easily deform. They may sink and become a concave when they are not managed carefully when you let your baby sleep on their side only.
4. Color change or unilateral erythema
Also known as the Harlequin color change, this is a type of condition that makes your baby’s body half-reddish in terms of color for their skin tone. It happens when your baby sleeps on their side or just sticks to one side, causing most of their blood vessels to go a little bit off. There is not much to worry about when it comes down to unilateral erythema because it doesn’t last very long – making the baby sleep in a different position keeps the reddish color away.
The color change is usually caused by the blood vessels of a still-developing baby. When we are still young, all of our body parts are also immature so it means that they may have a little bit of problem managing the blood vessels with the red blood cells inside, but this kind of phenomenon passes as they grow older, anyway.
What You Can Do
Here are the things you can do to prevent your baby from sleeping on their side:
1. Place them on their back
When you place your baby on their back when they fall asleep (and not after they fall asleep), they have a good chance of sleeping on their backs more often. The technique is to basically put them in a firm sleeping area as soon as possible so that they will know that they should be sleeping in this position and not sideways.
This applies to when your child falls asleep in the car seat, swing, bassinet and the like. In fact, many experts suggest that sleeping on your back has a lot of health benefits because it can help with respiratory problems in the future.
2. Make sure your sleeping area is firm and stable
Having a stable place to sleep, such as a crib or stroller, is important for babies so that they can sleep peacefully. When shopping for a stroller or a crib, make sure that their surface is firm, such as a good mattress foam. It is not safe to put your baby in soft beds like water beds, cushions and anything that is too soft because it can cause them to sink and potentially have SIDS or difficulty in breathing.
3. Don’t use sleep positioners
While it is okay for pregnant women to have sleep positioners or wedges, it is not safe for your baby because they can be a choking hazard once they fall asleep. They are not meant for newborns because they can cause them to sleep on their side, which can potentially cause some difficulty in breathing.
4. Breastfeeding and immunizations
There has been evidence that there are immunization programs that can help babies to become strong against SIDS and breathing problems when they sleep. Breastfeeding can also help them to develop better immunity due to the nutrients present in their mother’s milk.
Babies sleeping on their side (as newborns) can be quite troublesome because it can pose a risk to breathing problems when they sleep, and it can be fatal at times. Therefore, proper guidance is a must when you are taking care of your baby to make sure that they sleep soundly and safely. We hope you liked our guide on newborns sleeping on their side.