Can Babies Sleep on Their Side?

Sleeping habits are crucial for everyone, especially for newborns. However, parents often find themselves asking, ‘Can babies sleep on their side?’ In this blog post, we’ll go deep into this topic, demystifying the dos and don’ts and providing you with the best tips and practices to ensure your little one is safe and sound.

Can Babies Sleep on Their Side?

Whether babies can sleep on their side can be answered directly: it’s not the safest option. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that healthy infants be placed on their backs for sleep, as this is the safest position to avoid the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Why Can’t Babies Sleep on Their Side?

As mentioned, the major concern with babies sleeping on their side is the increased risk of SIDS. The baby could easily roll onto their stomach, which can potentially block the airway and hinder breathing. The AAP also advises that sleeping on the side is not stable enough and could lead to accidental rolling onto the stomach.

Newborn Rolls to the Side While Sleeping: What Should You Do?

It can be worrisome if your newborn rolls to their side while sleeping, but don’t panic! Firstly, always place your baby to sleep on their back. If they roll to their side, gently turn them back. However, once your baby can roll from back to front and front to back, leaving them to sleep in the position they roll to is okay. That said, each time you put your baby down to sleep, it should always be on their back.

Can A 1-Month Baby Sleep on Their Side?

Can a 1-month baby sleep on the side? 

The risk of SIDS is highest in the first six months of life, which includes the 1-month mark. Hence, a 1-month-old baby should not be left to sleep on their side. Always remember the AAP’s recommendation, “Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play.” So, no matter how peaceful your 1-month-old seems on their side, it’s best to move them onto their back gently.

Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomach?

Now, you might wonder, can babies sleep on their stomachs? The short answer is no, especially for newborns and younger infants. The reason is similar to why side-sleeping isn’t recommended. Babies sleeping on their stomachs have a higher risk of SIDS due to potential challenges with breathing. However, as your baby grows and gains more motor control and strength, they’ll start rolling onto their stomach on their own. At this point, it’s okay to let them stay in that position, but always start them on their back when putting them to sleep.

When Can Babies Sleep on Their Stomach?

a. The Newborn Stage 

Babies should generally sleep on their backs in the first few months of life to reduce the risk of SIDS. Newborns have limited mobility and cannot independently change positions during sleep, making back sleeping the safest option. It is essential to follow this guideline until your baby reaches a specific milestone.

b. Around 3-4 Months of Age 

Around 3-4 months, many babies start to show signs of improved head control and begin rolling from their back to their tummy. It is an exciting milestone but also introduces the possibility of your baby preferring to sleep on their stomach. While it’s important to encourage back sleeping initially, once your baby can independently roll from back to tummy and tummy to back, you can consider allowing them to choose their preferred sleep position.

c. Between 6-12 Months of Age 

By six months, most babies have gained significant head and neck control, and their rolling skills have improved further. If your baby can roll in both directions and assumes the tummy sleeping position independently, it may be safe to allow them to sleep on their stomach. However, it’s crucial to create a safe sleep environment and follow certain precautions to minimize any potential risks.

Is It Okay For Newborn to Sleep With Head to Side?

Babies often turn their heads to the side while sleeping on their backs. This is completely normal and safe as long as they’re not buried in a soft sleeping surface, which can lead to suffocation. A firm mattress with a fitted sheet and no loose bedding or soft objects is recommended.

Wrapping Up: Ensuring Safe Sleep for Your Baby

Can babies sleep on their side? Understanding the guidelines for safe baby sleep can help prevent the unfortunate occurrence of SIDS. Always remember to place your baby on their back for every sleep until they’re old enough to roll on their own. Also, ensure their sleeping environment is safe by using a firm sleep surface and keeping soft items out of their sleep area.

Safe Sleep Practices for Infants

Safe sleep practices for infants are crucial to ensure their well-being and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related accidents. 

Let’s analyze the key components of safe sleep practices for infants:

  1. Back sleeping: Placing infants on their back to sleep is the most essential safe sleep practice. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other reputable organizations strongly recommend back sleeping as it has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS significantly. Infants should be placed on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.
  2. Firm sleep surface: Providing a firm sleep surface, such as a crib mattress, helps maintain a safe sleeping environment for infants. It reduces the risk of suffocation or the baby’s face becoming obstructed by soft bedding.
  3. Clear crib: The crib should be free of any loose bedding, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, or other soft objects that could potentially pose a suffocation hazard. A bare crib promotes optimal air circulation around the baby.
  4. Room-sharing: The AAP recommends room-sharing, where the baby sleeps in the same room as the parents but on a separate sleep surface, such as a crib or bassinet. This arrangement allows for easy monitoring and facilitates nighttime feedings and comfort.
  5. Avoid overheating: It’s important to keep the baby’s sleep environment at a comfortable temperature to prevent overheating. Dressing the baby in appropriate clothing for room temperature and avoiding excessive layers of blankets or sleepwear can help maintain a safe sleeping temperature.
  6. Avoid smoke exposure: Infants should be kept away from smoke, including secondhand smoke. Smoking during pregnancy or exposing the baby to smoke after birth increases the risk of SIDS and other respiratory problems.
  7. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of SIDS. The AAP recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for the first six months and continuing alongside the introduction of solid foods until at least 12 months.
  8. Avoid sleep positioners and wedges: Sleep positioners, such as pillows or cushions, and wedges should not be used. They have not been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS and may increase the risk of suffocation or entrapment.
  9. Regular check-ins: Parents should regularly check on their sleeping baby and ensure that they are in a safe sleep position and that the sleep environment remains conducive to safe sleep.

By following these safe sleep practices, parents can provide a secure sleep environment for their infants and reduce the risk of sleep-related accidents. It is crucial to stay up to date with the latest guidelines from reputable sources, such as the AAP or relevant healthcare organizations, as recommendations may evolve over time based on new research and evidence.

The Importance of a Safe Sleeping Environment

Creating a safe sleeping environment is another crucial aspect of ensuring your baby’s safety. The AAP advises that the baby’s crib or bassinet should be devoid of any soft objects like pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals. These objects could potentially cover your baby’s face and disrupt their breathing. Opt for a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet. You might also consider using a sleep sack or swaddle for your baby instead of a loose blanket.

Swaddling: Is It Safe for Babies?

Swaddling is a popular practice where babies are wrapped in a blanket snugly to mimic the feeling of the womb. When done correctly, it can help soothe a fussy baby and promote sleep. However, improper swaddling could lead to issues like overheating or hip dysplasia.

As per the AAP guidelines, it’s safe to swaddle your baby, but remember always to place them on their back. Discontinue swaddling as soon as your baby shows signs of being able to roll over.

Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Pattern

Every baby has a unique sleep pattern, and understanding it can help you better respond to their needs. Newborns sleep a lot, up to 16-18 hours a day, but in short bursts. As your baby grows, they’ll start sleeping for longer stretches at night.

During the first few weeks, your baby may confuse day and night. You can help them understand the difference by keeping the daytime environment bright and engaging and the nighttime calm and dark.

Soothing Techniques for a Fussy Baby

Sometimes, babies have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It could be due to various reasons, including hunger, a dirty diaper, or just a need for comfort. Having a routine before bedtime, like a warm bath followed by a story or lullaby, can signal your baby that it’s time to sleep. Some babies also find white noise machines soothing.


Navigating the world of parenting can be challenging, but with knowledge and understanding, it can also be a fulfilling journey. The question ‘Can babies sleep on their side?’ is just one of many you might have. 

Remember, their safety is paramount for your baby’s sleep. Understanding and implementing safe sleeping practices can provide peace of mind as you navigate the wonderful yet exhausting world of parenthood. Always consult your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s sleep habits.