It’s alarming when your baby sleeps face down in mattress, especially if you’re a new parent.
The first time my baby did that at 3 months, I was scared to death and I was so nervous and anxious to put her back down to sleep.
Cause she might do it again!
So I dug around and discovered why babies prefer sleeping in a face-down position, the potential dangers associated with it when it is safe for a baby to sleep face down, and how we can encourage safer sleep habits for our little ones.
Let’s get first as to why your baby wants to sleep face down.
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List of Contents
Why Do Babies Want to Sleep Face Down?
- Finding a Comfy Position
Just like adults, babies have their preferences when it comes to sleep positions.
Some babies find it more comfortable to sleep with their faces down, as it helps them regulate their body temperature and it can provide a sense of safety and stability.
- Familiar Womb Position
Babies spend around nine months in the womb, curled up in a compact position. This fetal position offers a sense of security and familiarity to them.
Sleeping face down on the mattress can recreate that comforting sensation, reminiscent of their time in the womb.
- Preparing To Crawl
Another reason babies may choose to sleep face down is their natural inclination to explore their surroundings.
Babies use their sleep time to practice and develop motor skills.
By sleeping face down, they are preparing their bodies for crawling and other developmental milestones.
Is It Okay for a Baby to Sleep Face Down on a Mattress?
No, it’s not okay for a baby to sleep face down on a mattress. Especially if they’re a newborn or a younger baby who can’t turn their heads yet.
There are certain dangers to letting your baby sleep face down in their stomachs, such as:
Affected Autonomic Nervous System
Sleeping on their stomach or face down can hurt the baby’s autonomic nervous system, which controls important functions like heart rate and blood pressure.
This means that the face down sleeping position reduces the flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain.
Rebreathing of Carbon Dioxide
There’s a rebreathing theory that suggests that when a baby is lying face down on the mattress, it can quickly lead to decreased levels of oxygen (hypoxia) and increased levels of carbon dioxide.
Letting your baby sleep face down can also lead to asphyxia, which means that your baby’s body is not receiving enough oxygen, which can lead to SIDS.
Increased Bacterial Growth
Sleeping face down can lead to increased bacterial growth and mucus accumulation in the upper airways.
It is theorized that toxins produced by bacterial overgrowth after a viral infection may contribute to SIDS.
Sleeping on their tummy can make it more difficult for low-birthweight babies to release heat and regulate their body temperature.
This can increase the risk of overheating, which is another factor associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Studies have shown a higher risk of SIDS associated with stomach sleeping or sleeping face down on a mattress.
When Can a Baby Sleep Face Down Safely?
A baby can sleep face down safely if they meet the following criteria and milestones:
When a baby becomes capable of rolling over from their tummy to their back and vice versa independently, it shows that their neck and upper body strength has improved.
This milestone is significant because it means they can adjust their position during sleep, which helps lower the risk of suffocation.
Between 3 to 5 Months
As babies reach three to five months, they begin to develop better head and neck control.
If they can roll over independently and assume different sleeping positions, including face down, they may sleep in that position more safely.
6 Months and Above
By six months of age, most babies have mastered the art of rolling over and have sufficient motor skills to adjust their position during sleep.
At this stage, if they choose to sleep face down, it is usually safe.
How to Stop Your Baby from Sleeping Face Down
If your newborn or younger baby doesn’t have better head and neck control yet keeps sleeping face down on their tummy, do these steps to encourage safer sleep habits:
Supervised Tummy Time
Do supervised tummy time during the day. This helps your baby develop neck and upper body strength, making it easier for them to reposition themselves during sleep.
Start tummy time as soon as you’re back home from the hospital or within the week, after giving birth.
Related Article: Fun Tummy Time Activities and Ideas for Newborns and Older Babies
Safer Crib Mattress Design
Always choose a firm, flat crib mattress or a flat, thin bassinet mattress to provide a stable surface for your baby to sleep on.
Avoid pillows, blankets, or any other soft items that may pose suffocation hazards.
Consider using a swaddling cloth or sleep sack that allows your baby to feel secure while sleeping on their back.
Make sure that the crib mattress is placed securely within the crib, minimizing any gaps or spaces where your baby’s face may get trapped.
Smart Baby Monitors
Some parents find peace of mind by using smart baby monitors such as the Owlet Dream Sock, that can alert them to irregularities in their baby’s breathing patterns.
Related Article: Best Baby Sleep Products To Help Your Baby Sleep
Breathable Sheets and Mattresses
Choose breathable materials for crib sheets and mattresses to improve airflow and reduce the risk of carbon dioxide accumulation.
Related Article: Best Crib Mattresses
More Tummy Time
Encourage frequent tummy time during awake hours to further strengthen your baby’s muscles and help them adjust their sleep position.
Related Article: Reasons Why Your Baby Hates Tummy Time and What To Do About It
FAQ on Why Baby Sleeps Face Down on Mattress
Can Babies Breathe Face Down on Mattress?
No, babies cannot breathe face down on mattresses. Letting babies sleep face down increases the risk of restricted breathing, rebreathing carbon dioxide, potential suffocation, and SIDS.
It is important to prioritize safe sleep practices, such as placing babies on their backs.
Is It Safe for a Baby to Sleep Face Down in a Crib?
No, it is not safe for a baby to sleep face down in a crib. The risk of SIDS and suffocation increases significantly when babies sleep on their tummy. So always place your baby on their back to sleep.
What to Do If My Baby Sleeps Face Down?
If your baby sleeps face down, take proactive measures to encourage safer sleep habits.
Increase supervised tummy time, ensure a firm sleep surface, and consult with your pediatrician for personalized advice.
Why Does My Baby Roll Face Down on the Mattress?
Your baby rolls face down on the mattress as it’s a normal part of their development. They naturally explore different positions during sleep, but it is crucial to create a safe sleep environment.
Is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Linked to Stomach Sleeping?
Yes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to Stomach Sleeping stomach sleeping. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Baby Sleeping Habits: Useful Tips to Help Babies Sleep Safely
To ensure your baby’s safety during sleep, do the following:
- Always position your baby on their back at the beginning of sleep, whether it’s naptime or nighttime.
- Remove any loose bedding, toys, or other items from the crib to prevent suffocation hazards.
- Dress your baby in appropriate clothing for room temperature to avoid overheating or becoming too cold.
- Avoid sharing the same bed with your baby, as it increases the risk of suffocation and SIDS. Use a separate crib or bassinet instead.
- While car seats are essential for transportation, they are not designed for prolonged sleep. Transfer your baby to a safe sleep environment after the car ride.
Baby Sleeps Face Down In Mattress: Wrapping Up
When your baby sleeps face down on the mattress, it can be worrisome, but there are ways to keep them safe.
By understanding why they like this position and taking precautions, you can ensure their well-being.
Remember to prioritize safe sleep practices, like placing babies on their backs, using a firm mattress, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.
If you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep habits, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for personalized advice and guidance.
Your baby’s safety and peace of mind are important!
If you liked this article, make sure to check out my guide on How To Get Baby To Sleep Longer Stretches At Night, How To Survive Newborn Sleep Deprivation, and How to Make Bassinet More Comfortable So Your Baby Can Sleep.