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Article: Can Newborns Sleep On Their Side?

Can Newborns Sleep On Their Side?

Can Newborns Sleep On Their Side?

When it comes to safe sleep for newborns, parents always are confused about whether can newborns sleep on their side. It's important to know that newborns shouldn't sleep on their sides.

What is the side sleeping?

Side sleeping means that the newborn sleeps on his or her side, rather than on his or her back or stomach. In this position, the newborn's body is turned to the side with the head resting on the mattress.

Some parents may consider sleeping on the side safely. Side sleeping can be unstable for newborns and increases the risk of your newborn rolling onto his or her stomach during sleep.

Sleeping on the stomach is dangerous because it has been linked to a high risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Experts also recommend always putting newborns to sleep on their backs.

Is side sleeping safe for newborns?

Side sleeping for newborns has both benefits and risks.


Reduce the risk of choking:

Sleeping on the side helps prevent spitting up and choking your newborns. Sleeping on the side makes it easier for fluids to pass out of your newborn’s mouth. This position may be beneficial for newborns who frequently regurgitate milk or reflux, as it minimizes the risk of fluid aspiration into the lungs.

Smooth breathing:

In some cases, sleeping on the side may allow newborns to breathe more smoothly, especially if they have nasal congestion or respiratory problems. This position helps newborns keep the airway open and reduces the pressure on the diaphragm, making your newborn feel more comfortable.

Relieve reflux:

For newborns with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), healthcare professionals sometimes recommend that newborns sleep on their side. This position prevents acid from flowing back up into the esophagus, allowing newborns to sleep more comfortably and reducing reflux symptoms.

Transitioning to a natural position:

Some newborns naturally prefer to sleep on their side as they transition from being held to being put down. This can sometimes help them settle faster and transition to sleep more smoothly.

Reduce heat pressure:

Alternating sleep positions, including sleeping on the side, can help reduce the risk of flat spots (positional cephalic deformities) on the back of the head. Sleeping on the side is beneficial for infants who lie on their backs for long periods during the day.


Increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):

Sleeping on your side increases the likelihood that your newborn will roll onto his or her stomach, which can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sleeping on the back as the safest position to minimize this risk.

Other Risk Factors of SIDS:

  • Overheating.
  • Smoking exposure.
  • Premature birth.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Lack of prenatal care.
  • Co-sleeping.
  • Unsafe sleep environment.

Unstable position:

Newborns who sleep on their sides can easily roll onto their tummies, which is an unstable and unsafe sleep position. Since they cannot often roll backward, this can lead to prolonged periods in a higher-risk position.

Positional plagiocephaly:

Sleeping on the side can lead to the development of positional plagiocephaly, which is when a baby's head becomes flattened on one side due to the constant pressure of the same sleep position. This condition affects the symmetry of the baby's head shape and may require corrective measures.

Neck muscle strain:

Continuous sleep on one side can lead to imbalance and strain of the baby's neck muscles. This can cause tension in the neck muscles, resulting in the baby's head being tilted to one side, which may require physical therapy to correct.

Increased risk of suffocation:

Newborns who sleep on their side may roll onto objects such as crib bumpers, stuffed animals, or blankets, posing a risk of suffocation. Ensuring a safe sleep environment free of such hazards is critical.

When can babies sleep on their sides?

Once your baby can consistently roll from his back to his side and from his side to his back, he can safely sleep on his side. This usually happens when your baby is 4 to 6 months old, but it can be different for each baby. Here are some of the benefits once babies reach this developmental milestone:

Reduce the risk of a flat head:

When your baby can roll over on his or her own, sleeping on his or her side can help prevent positional plagiocephaly. Alternate sleeping positions help maintain a rounder head shape.

Comfort and self-soothing:

Babies who can sleep on their side may find this position more comfortable and soothing. Being able to choose their sleep position can help them self-soothe and sleep more soundly.

Growth milestones:

When your baby can roll over independently, allowing them to sleep on their side can help their physical development. This encourages them to use and strengthen their muscles and promotes the development of overall motor skills.

Different sleep positions:

As your baby grows, being able to sleep in different positions, including on their side, can help improve the quality of their sleep. This allows them to move freely and find the position that works best for them.

However, even when babies can roll over, parents should still initially put them on their backs to sleep. If your baby rolls onto their sides or stomach during sleep, it is generally safe to keep them in this position as long as the sleep environment is free of hazards such as soft bedding, pillows, and stuffed toys.

How to prevent newborns sleep on their sides?

Here are some tips to help your newborn prevent sleep on his or her side to stay safe:

Keep your newborn on their back:

The most effective way to prevent newborns from sleeping on their sides is to always put them on their backs. This position greatly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and ensures that your baby is in a safe sleeping position.

Use a firm mattress:

Make sure your baby sleeps on a firm, flat mattress that does not have any incline. A firm mattress provides a stable surface that will help keep your baby in a back sleeping position and reduce the likelihood of your baby rolling to one side.

Avoid sleep positioners:

Keeping your baby in a specific position can be dangerous and is not recommended. These products like sleep positioners may increase the risk of suffocation and have not been proven to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Swaddle your baby:

Swaddling can help keep your newborn in a back-sleeping position. The comfort provided by swaddling prevents babies from rolling over. However, you should stop swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of trying to roll over.

Create a safe sleep environment:

Remove soft bedding, pillows, and stuffed animals from your baby's sleep area. A firm mattress helps keep the baby on his back, reducing the risk of suffocation and side rolls.

Monitor your baby's posture:

Regularly check your baby's position while sleeping. If your baby rolls to one side, gently reposition them back on their back. While it's important to minimize disruptions to sleep, making sure your baby stays on their back is critical to safety.


In conclusion, newborns should not sleep on their sides due to the increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other safety concerns. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs, which is the safest position to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Side sleeping may seem comfortable, but it is less stable and can lead to unsafe positions. By ensuring that infants are lying on their backs on a firm mattress and not using loose bedding, parents can create a safe sleep environment for their newborns and promote healthy growth.

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Yujia Shi

An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Baby's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.

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