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On Call: Belly-Sleeping Baby

Q. My 7-month-old constantly flips onto his tummy in his crib, which worries me because of SIDS. Is it okay to let him sleep that way?

A.
I get this question often, and I'm glad  -- it means that parents are taking SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) precautions seriously and putting their infants to sleep on their backs to avoid suffocation.

SIDS is most common before babies turn 6 months old, especially between 2 and 4 months. After that, their neurologic systems are more developed, so their brains can better signal them to breathe when they're not getting enough oxygen. They also have the motor skills now to turn their heads to breathe. So put your child to bed on his back (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing this for the first year), but if he flips over later, it's okay.

Just be sure to follow the other SIDS guidelines until he's 1, such as:

  • Use a firm mattress
  • Avoid soft bedding, pillows, or bumpers
  • Avoid overheating or overbundling
  • If you want your baby to sleep near you, go for a crib in the same room, instead of sharing a bed
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