When can baby sleep on stomach

For a young baby, sleeping on the stomach is considered unsafe due to the risk of SIDS – the safest position for your baby to sleep in during the first year is on his or her back. Read on to learn when it’s OK to let your baby sleep on his or her stomach and how to ensure the safest possible sleep environment for your baby.

Is It OK for Your Baby to Sleep on His or Her Tummy?

Sleeping on the stomach is not considered a safe sleeping position for your baby in the first year. Instead, put your baby to sleep on his or her back for every sleep, including daytime naps. The same goes for placing your baby to sleep on his or her side. From the side-sleeping position, your little one could easily roll onto his or her stomach.

If your baby rolls over during sleep, gently return him or her to the back-sleeping position. Continue to do this until your infant can roll over easily in both directions – back to stomach and stomach to back – unaided. Stomach sleeping is known to carry a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) for young babies. Putting your baby to sleep in the back-sleeping position – along with other important precautions, such as keeping your baby’s cot free of loose bedding, toys and other items – helps reduce the risk of SIDS. It’s because of preventive measures like this – which are known to be effective – that SIDS is thankfully very rare these days.

In Summary

To lower the risk of SIDS, it’s safest to put babies under the age of 1 to sleep on their backs. If your baby rolls into a different position while asleep, gently return him or her to the safer, back-sleeping position.

What if Your Baby Rolls onto His or Her Stomach While Sleeping?

Even babies who haven’t learned to roll over by themselves yet may sometimes turn onto their side or stomach while asleep. If you notice your baby has rolled onto the stomach or side while sleeping, gently return your infant to the safer, back-sleeping position. When your baby is older and capable of rolling over both ways (back to stomach and stomach to back) comfortably without any help, there’s no need to turn your child back. However, when you put your baby down to sleep or for a daytime nap, continue to place your baby on his or back in the cot.

In Summary

If your baby rolls onto his or her stomach or side while sleeping, gently turn your infant back again. Once your baby has mastered rolling from stomach to back and back to stomach unaided, it’s OK to let your child choose his or her own sleeping position. Even then, keep putting your baby down to sleep on his or her back.

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At What Age Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomach?

It isn’t safe to put babies to sleep on their stomach at least until the age of 1 year old, because this position increases the risk of SIDS. If you notice your baby has rolled onto his or her stomach while asleep, just gently return him or her to the back-sleeping position. However, when your baby gets older and finds it easy to roll in both directions (back to stomach and stomach to back) unaided, then there’s no need to reposition your little one. All children develop at their own pace, but babies often reach this milestone sometime between around 7 and 9 months old. Even then, experts advise that you continue to put your baby down to sleep in the cot on his or her back. Make sure the cot has a firm mattress that fits the cot perfectly and is covered with a tight-fitting sheet. The cot shouldn’t contain any loose bedding, bumper pads, duvets, pillows, sleeping wedges or stuffed animals. It should be completely empty.

Tummy Time

It’s OK for your baby to spend time on his or her stomach while awake and alert during the day. This kind of daytime exercise, known as tummy time, is highly recommended for all babies. Getting plenty of tummy time helps your baby build the muscle strength and coordination needed to sit up and crawl. Be sure tummy time sessions are supervised at all times by you or another adult.

In Summary

When your little one has no trouble rolling from back to stomach and back again, it’s OK for your baby to move into a different sleeping position after being put down in a cot on his or her back. By day, giving your baby plenty of wide-awake, supervised tummy time will help develop the strength and coordination needed to roll over, sit up and crawl.

What if Your Baby Prefers Sleeping on His or Her Stomach?

Some babies may prefer to sleep on their stomach or side. Even so, you should always place your baby in the cot on his or her back. If your baby shifts to a side-sleeping or stomach-sleeping position while asleep, return your infant to his or her back. Keep doing this until your baby is older and can confidently roll both ways (back to side or stomach, side or stomach to back).

In Summary

Even if your baby seems to prefer side-sleeping or back-sleeping, keep returning your baby to the safe, back-down position until he or she is capable of rolling easily in both directions (from back to stomach and stomach to back) unassisted.

The Bottom Line

The best and safest sleeping position for your baby during the first year of life is on the back. Sleeping on the stomach can increase the risk of SIDS. This is why it’s so important to place your infant on his or her back for every sleep, including naps. If your newborn or young baby does roll onto his or her side or stomach during sleep, return your child to the back-sleeping position. Get into the habit of doing this until your older baby is able to comfortably roll both ways unassisted. Following safe sleeping guidelines like these can help you sleep easier too, knowing that your little one is sleeping in the safest possible way.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.