Baby Sleeping on Side - What Can Happen & How to Stop It
Updated: Nov 13, 2022
If your baby is sleeping on her side, congratulations! You're probably already aware of how protective you need to be with this precious little bundle of joy. While sleeping on her side can be a sign of normal development in young infants, it can also be cause for concern. In fact, research shows that babies who sleep on their sides for extended periods of time have higher rates of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) than those who don't. Fortunately, there are things you can do to potentially minimize the risk:
Baby Sleeping on Side - What Can Happen & How to Stop It
If your baby likes to sleep on his or her side, then it's a good idea for you to know about the possible risks. The most common cause of positional plagiocephaly is sleeping in the same position for too long. This means that when your baby sleeps on their backs, the back of their head will mold into a flat shape over time because there isn't any pressure from other parts of their body. However, if they're faced sideways when they're resting - which is often how they like to sleep - then they'll have no choice but to rest against whatever surface they are laying on (like a pillow). In this case, one side of their head will be forced into that shape while the other impacts with whatever is below them (i.e., if you put a pillow under their head). As such:
Their skull may end up being misshapen;
They can develop ear infections;
They could experience hearing loss as well as vision problems due to fluid buildup in certain parts of their brain;
It can even lead to brain damage if left untreated!
Why Your Baby Is On Their Side, and How To Handle It
The first reason why your baby is on her side is because she has a natural tendency to turn to one side. Babies are born with strong neck muscles, which they use to lift their head in the womb and later on, when they're born. So it's not surprising that they have a natural tendency to sleep on their sides.
In addition, babies tend to roll over while they're still inside of you—meaning that if you're pregnant right now and have been feeling movement from time-to-time, this could be what's going on!
Finally (and maybe most importantly), sleeping on their backs can increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). This means it's very important for all parents who share a bed with their little ones at night and choose not to move them onto another surface before falling asleep themselves (or getting up during the night) need some help getting used to this new way of doing things!
WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOUR BABY SLEEPS ON THEIR SIDE?
The following are some of the most common issues associated with side sleeping:
Flat head syndrome. This is a condition in which the baby’s skull becomes flattened, causing pressure on brain development and creating an abnormal shape. The back of the head can become flat on one side, or there may be bulging on both sides of the head.
Hip dysplasia. This refers to an abnormal formation of bones in the hip joint that causes pain and affects mobility later in life when walking or running.
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). According to research conducted by Tel-Aviv University, babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die from SIDS than those who sleep on their stomachs or sides.* Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Reflux occurs when food comes back up from your stomach into your esophagus or mouth due to weak lower esophageal sphincter muscle control.* Sleep apnea & sleep deprivation caused by snoring at night while sleeping on your side.* Reflux which occurs when acid from your stomach goes up into your throat, causing heartburn and discomfort during eating
CAN IT HURT MY BABY IF SHE ROLLS OVER ONTO HER STOMACH OR BACK?
Yes, it can. Flat head syndrome, plagiocephaly and positional plagiocephaly (or flat head) are the common terms used to describe the effects of restricted movement on a baby's skull.
Positional plagiocephaly is caused when a baby's soft spot (fontanelle) closes too early or flattens out due to pressure from being placed in one position for too long while sleeping. The result is an asymmetric skull shape that can be mistaken for other conditions such as craniosynostosis (a premature fusing of two or more bone sutures in the skull).
WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO BABIES SLEEPING ON THEIR SIDES?
Babies are more likely to sleep on their sides if they were born prematurely. Research has found that premature babies have a higher chance of developing positional plagiocephaly, which is the medical term for flat head syndrome. The reason behind this is that while still in the womb, a full-term baby's head will flatten in response to pressure from your growing belly. However, premature babies cannot do this and therefore their skull bones remain unevenly shaped when they reach term age and start sleeping on their backs. This can cause pain in some cases so turning them onto their sides may be recommended by your doctor or midwife.
Another factor that could increase your child's likelihood of sleeping on their side is breastfeeding. According to research by The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), breastfed babies tend to turn onto one side more often than bottle fed ones during sleep because it makes it easier for mothers' breasts to fill up with milk during feeding time without being disturbed by movement from a fidgety baby lying face down!
Finally, swaddling can also affect whether or not your child sleeps face down as well! Swaddling helps keep newborns warm and secure but may contribute towards over-laying because of how tightly wrapped they get while sleeping under blankets at night time; this means they're less likely able to move around freely because they're unable to stretch out fully within these confines (which would otherwise help prevent any accidental rolling).
WHY DOES MY BABY PREFER TO SLEEP ON ONE SIDE?
Babies sleep better on their sides because they are used to sleeping in a curled up position. Babies also love being close to mom or dad and feel safest when held tightly against them. However, it's important to remember that sleeping on the side is not always possible for all babies, especially if you have an older toddler who needs a bigger space of his own.
If your baby doesn't like sleeping in the crib and tends to roll over onto his stomach at night, try placing him down in his crib with a tight swaddle (such as an Arm's Reach co-sleeper) or keep him wrapped up tightly with blankets when he sleeps on his back. This will help prevent him from rolling onto his stomach while asleep. *
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HOW DO I KEEP MY BABY FROM ROLLING OVER IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Use a wedge pillow or nursing pillow. These are great for keeping your baby in place while you feed, and they’re also comfortable for both of you.
Wait it out. Babies change positions often enough that it’s not worth getting worked up about the one position she’s in right now.
Don't be afraid to position your baby in the preferred position after feeding (so long as there are no safety concerns). If she's on her back and starts to roll over, gently turn her back before she's able to get into any awkward positions (like with her face smashed against a side table).
If this doesn't work and you're still worried, meet with a physical therapist or chiropractor who can help assess whether tight muscles might be contributing to your baby rolling onto her stomach all the time. A good nursing pillow will help keep your baby comfortable while allowing him plenty of room to move around freely without rolling onto his belly out of boredom or discomfort!
1. INTRODUCE A COMFORTABLE RECLINE WITH A WEDGE PILLOW OR NURSING PILLOW.
Introduce a comfy recline with a wedge pillow or nursing pillow.
Use a baby lounger/nursing lounger to keep your baby at the right height so that you can have easier access to their mouth and nose when they are lying on their back, but still able to breathe freely if they roll over onto their stomachs. A boppy will also work well for this purpose, as well as allowing you to breastfeed in comfort while keeping the baby upright with its head supported above heart level (and away from any potential choking hazards).
Use an infant wedge under the mattress so that both ends of it rise off either side of where your child’s head would be if they were sleeping on their stomachs instead of with one ear facing upwards towards whatever soundproofing method has been employed against outside noises such as traffic or birds chirping early in the morning hours before sunrise (and after sunset around dusk.) This way there’s enough room for her head without having any pressure placed upon her ears which could lead into discomfort during REM sleep cycles later down tonight!
2. YOU MAY NEED TO WAIT AND SEE.
If your baby is healthy, and you are waiting to see if they sleep on their side, there’s nothing wrong with waiting. If they aren’t sleeping well or growing well, then it may be time to seek medical help. A specialist can evaluate your baby and give you advice about how to treat this problem in your child.
If you think that something isn't quite right with your child's sleeping, growth or development; talk to a doctor! An expert can look at all of the different factors that come into play for any issue involving a child and advise what might be best for them moving forward
3. DON'T BE AFRAID TO POSITION YOUR BABY IN THE PREFERRED POSITION AFTER FEEDING.
>Don’t be afraid to position your baby in the preferred position after feeding
Babies will often go back to sleep if you place them on their side after a feed. A lot of parents are hesitant to do this because they worry that it might hurt their baby’s neck, but the truth is quite different! We have already seen how important it is for babies to learn how to roll over by themselves and once they have mastered this skill, it becomes much easier for them to adopt an upright position when asleep. You can help them by placing them flat on their backs immediately after feeding, but don’t worry if they start rolling over before you finish changing/dressing/feeding them - just make sure that once finished with whatever needs doing then put everything else down for long enough so that you can keep an eye on what's happening while your child sleeps soundly next door (or wherever he/she wakes up).
4. MEET WITH A PHYSICAL THERAPIST FOR ASSISTANCE WITH TIGHT MUSCLES.
Meet with a physical therapist for assistance with tight muscles.
Physical therapists can help with muscle imbalance.
Physical therapists can help with muscle tightness.
Physical therapists can help with muscle weakness.
Physical therapists can help with muscle pain and cramping that may have been caused by the sleeper's position as well as any other contributing factors, including improper sleeping postures, poor body mechanics, or even poor quality of sleep due to stress or poor diet choices that lead to fatigue from lack of restful sleep in general over time (ie: caffeine).
5. A GOOD NURSING PILLOW WILL HELP KEEP YOUR BABY COMFORTABLE AND RELAXED WHEN SHE SIDE-SLEEPS.
A good nursing pillow will help keep your baby comfortable and relaxed when she side-sleeps. When babies are very young, they often experience difficulty sleeping on their sides because they can’t get to their feeding source without waking up. By using a nursing pillow, you can help your child feel more secure while breastfeeding or bottle feeding, which will allow her to drift off into sleep.
The right type of nursing pillow depends on the size of your baby and the type of feeding method that you prefer. A wedge-shaped cushion or wedge pillow is ideal for smaller infants who are still learning how to hold their heads up on their own. This type of cushion provides support for both the head and belly at once so that there is no need for repositioning during feeding time—giving you more time with your little one! The larger option offers maximum comfort for both mother and child because it supports both sides simultaneously with its contoured shape; however it does not have any additional benefits over other types except perhaps aesthetics since many people find these types ugly compared to other options available today such as compact travel pillows (which typically aren’t sturdy enough).
So, we’ve covered the basics of why babies sleep on their sides and what can happen if they don’t. Now, let's talk about some things you can do to stop your baby from sleeping on his or her side.
First off, remember that it is completely normal for newborns to sleep on their sides! If you feel like your baby is sleeping too much on his or her side, try changing positions and see if there are any other ways he or she might find comfortable enough so that they won't need to turn over at night anymore. You could try placing them in a cradle position with blankets underneath them (like how they were when they slept in their mothers' wombs) so that they won't roll onto their tummy while still being able to breathe freely through their nose without any obstruction from pillows or blankets blocking air flow passing through nostrils due lack thereof! And another great tip would be switching up positions throughout day time as well as night time hours...just keep experimenting until something works best for both parties involved :)