Ah, sleep. When you’re in the trenches with a newborn, it can feel like the only thing you think, talk and (day)dream about is sleep. Mostly the sleep that you’re not getting, but also your baby’s sleep. Baby sleep is very different from child and adult sleep, and it can be quite a steep learning curve for new parents. Today we’re going to look into sleep position.
SIDS and Sleep Position
If you’re pregnant or already home with your baby, you’ve heard about SIDS. SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the most common cause of death of babies under 1-year-old. The causes are still mostly unknown, but one way in which we’ve reduced the incidence is to lay babies on their backs. Babies are initially unable to roll over, which means that the position you place them to sleep in will be the position they remain in. It’s thought that babies sleep less deeply on their backs, preventing them from going into a very deep sleep which can cause them to stop breathing.
OK, so paediatricians and experts everywhere recommend laying babies to sleep on their backs to help prevent SIDS. However, despite laying babies on their backs, they do still sometimes stop breathing. If you’re worried about sleep apnoea or bradycardia (this is especially concerning when babies are premature or just very young) a medically certified breathing monitor can help bring you peace of mind. The only one available on the European market (certified and tested to stringent standards), is the Snuza Hero MD. It clips to the babies nappy and the sensitive tip rests on their belly. It detects the movements made by the baby and alerts both the caregiver and the baby if the movement stops.
One other great way to get babies to sleep safely, especially during the day, is babywearing. People all over the world in different cultures have carried their babies on their bodies in some way or another. One great, modern way of doing so is using a baby wrap or carrier. It allows your baby to be close to you, upright and you get to rest your arms and keep your hands free. Just ensure that you’re following safe babywearing guidelines:
Baby should be positioned naturally for their bodies, snug enough not to collapse while sleeping but not too tight so they can’t breathe.
Baby should be positioned high enough up on your body so that you can kiss the top of their head (but not so high that you can’t see).
Positional Asphyxia & Sleeping in the Car Seat
One thing parents figure out quite early is whether or not their baby likes to be in the car. Some love it, and fall asleep as soon as the car switches on, while others hate it and cry constantly. For those that love it, it can be tempting to let a sleeping baby lie. In other words, to let a baby who fell asleep in the car, remain in their infant car seat outside of the car. Some parents even take to putting their babies to sleep in their car seats, but experts warn against this. One problem is that of positional asphyxia. When the car seat is positioned correctly in its base in the car and the baby is strapped in, the position is optimal to keep the baby’s airways open. Once out of the car, however, that angle is no longer controlled. Additionally, many parents release the buckle, which can allow the baby to slouch into a position which blocks their airways causing the baby to stop breathing.
If there are just two things you take away from this article, it’s that babies should sleep on their backs and they shouldn’t be left to or laid to sleep in their car seat. Looking after a baby can be tiring and all-consuming, but remembering a few keys things will help to keep your baby safer and give you peace of mind.
Sleep Position: Why Back is Best: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/sleep/Pages/Sleep-Position-Why-Back-is-Best.aspx
Sleep and Newborns: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleepnewborn.html
The best sleeping position for your baby: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/sleeping-position/
Car Seats and Positional Asphyxiation: https://cultureofsafety.thesilverlining.com/childcare/car-seats-and-positional-asphyxiation