Babies spend a lot of time to sleep. You can observe your baby’s sleeping habits. It is unique for babies and interesting for parents to watch their babies sleep on the side. However, unlike adults, having babies sleep on their backs can have several effects.
Is it safe for babies to sleep on their side?
The answer to this question is no. Babies sleeping in a recumbent position will experience the following health conditions.
At the beginning of birth, the infant’s skull is so soft. This will allow the brain and skull to grow and expand. If the pressure builds up in the skull, the organ will sink deep inside causing the flat head syndrome.
Babies will suffer from the above syndrome if they often sleep in a recumbent position and on the same side. If the skull shape does not match the brain’s ability to expand, this can make the brain less developed.
The treatment for flat head syndrome involves the use of a special helmet with a straightening function to correct the problem. Besides, parents can use the baby pillow for a flat head to help support the head and neck. It helps to prevent distortion of the head, flathead, and neck ache for children. Along with the softness of the baby pillow, this will help your baby prevent and eliminate head distortion. It is a useful elastic mechanism that helps your baby lie on the side.
When the baby has this condition, the side of the body that the baby lies on during sleep will change color. The color will change to pink or red, while it will not affect the other half. Besides, you notice that there is always an obvious line between the two parts of the body with distinct colors.
Skin discoloration appears when a newborn sleeps for many hours. However, the condition of skin discoloration does not cause any adverse effects on the baby. But it may seem to be worse. When you turn your baby back to the supine position the skin discoloration just disappears within minutes.
I think the cause to be due to gravity affecting the blood flow in blood vessels. It causes the accumulation of red blood cells near the skin.
Medical treatment need not treat Harlequin discoloration because it disappears after the baby changes its sleeping position.
It characterizes scoliosis by an unusual way of tilting the neck in one direction for the severe shortening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. This muscle connects the side of the head to the collarbone. Because children’s muscles are so soft and developing, it can negatively affect them when they sleep on their side.
It will release stiffness in the muscles through physical therapy or wearing a recovery harness. It wraps the harness around the baby’s body and comes with a soft pad near the neck. This gasket acts to push the head back to the normal position.
Risk of suffocation
Newborn babies sleep on their backs, causing the windpipe to twist and can cause breathing problems. Besides, this posture also causes food in the baby’s abdomen to reflux and accumulate around the airway opening. It creates a risk of suffocation for babies. Babies who lie on their side in sleep or on their stomach both increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
There is no cure for this condition, but you can prevent it by not letting your newborn sleep on their side.
Preventing measures for newborns
Parents can take simple precautions to prevent babies from lying on their side during sleep, as given below.
Put the baby in a crib
The simplest precaution is to allow babies to sleep on their backs in a crib or bed. Studies have shown that this lying position helps prevent sudden death in babies. It reduces the risk of upper respiratory infections.
Avoid unnecessary objects
Cribs should not have too many objects and toys. Things like pillows and stuffed animals can cause your baby to lean on one side in case the baby turns over while sleeping.
Limiting cocoon incubation
If you have a habit of making cocoons for babies, the risk of lying on their side when sleeping will increase. This is because swaddling creates a smooth, cylindrical surface around your baby’s body. It makes it easy to roll to the side. Incubation also increases the risk of sudden death in infants.
Pay attention to your baby’s sleeping position
If babies sleep on their backs, turn their heads every night. For example, if the child lies slightly to the right the night before, the next day, adjust the head slightly to the left. This will help prevent the development of the flat head syndrome.
When is it possible for babies to sleep on their sides?
By about six months, babies will roll to one side. This is a natural process of a child’s development. If your child starts doing this action, you can put them to sleep on their side. Besides, the baby’s initiative to practice leaning also shows the health of the internal organs. It reduces the risk of sleep apnea.
However, if an infant practice before reaching the 6-month mark, put him/her in the supine position.