All babies should be placed on their backs every time that you put them down for sleep.

This is the recommendation as per the health agenda that supports “back to sleep”; an initiative introduced post-1991 that has greatly reduced the risk of SIDS.

Literature confirms that babies that are placed on their side or their front are at a far greater risk of SIDS than those who are placed on their backs.

It is recommended that you implement this practice from day one and in doing so you also continue to observe the other safe sleep guidance therein. Most important being; room-sharing, a smoke-free environment, a cot clear of loose bedding, hat-free and placed with their toes close to the end of the cot or co-sleeper.

The recommendation

Although you may report that your baby appears more comfortable on their side or their back; it is simply not considered safe and placing them on their backs will always be the recommendation. Obviously, some exceptions may occur but should be only with direct medical advice for your individual baby.

However, within a few short months as your baby is growing and developing they will begin to get mobile and begin to roll and it is here now that you may start to allow them to assume their own preferred sleep position.

You will always place them on their back, and then if they would like to get more comfortable, somewhere else, you can allow them to find that themselves.

We anticipate this skill to start to emerge sometime around 4 months of age and this can be encouraged by continuing to practise tummy time and floor time activities. Once I see this tendency, I really encourage this skill to emerge with lots of practice, as I find that many children do sleep better once they are more mobile.

Sleeping attire

I suggest that parents practice getting them to go over and back and front to back and again, use your hand as a lever to support them initially, and often use a keyword like “roll over” so that when they are achieving sleep at bed and nap time you can accompany them as appropriate.

When practising this by day, I propose that they wear their sleeping bag, so that they get good at this in their sleeping attire, which promotes agility and I find helps parents to worry less, as they have supervised them and are confident that their baby can get over and back themselves.

Once again, safe sleep is encouraged and certainly, the use of positioners and nests are not recommended as per safe sleep guidance and observationally, I find that they may inhibit their ability to roll about and get comfortable for sleep too.

Lucy Wolfe is a Sleep consultant, Co-creational Parent and Relationship Mentor, Author of The Baby Sleep Solution and All About the Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and Mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise, and valuable support to families around the world. See |+35387 2683584 or |