Baby Sleeps on Side? Yes, It’s Unsafe.

Help! My Baby Sleeps on His Side.

It has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that parents encourage proper sleeping positions to optimize the safety of their baby. The right positioning when a baby sleeps can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS can occur as a result of strangulation and suffocation, among other issues that happen while a baby is sleeping.

The position in which a baby sleeps is especially important for the first 12 months of your baby’s life. As a result, it’s necessary to ensure everyone entrusted with the care of your little one is familiar with the recommended position while your baby is sleeping. Most babies should sleep on their back. However, there are a limited number of situations in which a baby should be placed on their stomach during bedtime. In fact, it’s likely fine if your baby sleeps on her side. However, that determination should only be made in consultation with your doctor.

1. Place Your Baby on Her Back

If your baby sleeps on her side, you should help her feel comfortable sleeping on her back. One of the ways to get your baby comfortable with sleeping on her back is by placing her in that position every time she goes to sleep. This includes all naptimes and during the night. The more often you move your baby into the proper position, the more likely she will be to naturally revert to that position. If your baby sleeps on her side initially, you shouldn’t worry because it can be a natural tendency that just needs to be changed by repositioning your little one.

If your baby sleeps on her side and is able to roll from one position to another, then you should allow her to remain in that position. For instance, if she can roll from her back to her stomach, then that usually means she’s able to turn over again if necessary. The same applies to your baby being able to roll from her back to her side. Generally speaking, after the age of twelve months you can leave your baby on her side without any concerns. Although it’s fine to let your baby roll to her side before the one year mark, you should always place her on her back initially because that’s the safest position.

2. Make Sure the Surface is Firm

Whether your baby sleeps on her side or on her back, it’s important to make sure the surface is firm. As a matter of fact, you should always move your baby to a surface that’s firm as soon as she goes to sleep. For instance, if your baby goes to sleep in a stroller, infant carrier, car seat or swing, you should immediately move your little one to a crib, bassinet or wherever she sleeps that has a firm surface. Firm sleep surfaces are much safer for your baby. When choosing a bassinet or crib, make sure you check to see if there are any issues with the product that you want to buy.

3. Avoid Safety Hazards

Sometimes there are recalls on products because they don’t adhere to safety standards. If your baby sleeps on her side, this isn’t necessarily an issue, unless your baby sleeps on her side in a bassinet or crib that has been recalled. Sometimes these products are deemed unsafe because they are problematic when babies sleep in certain positions. You can check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to find out if the bassinet or crib that you want to purchase is safe.

Some of the most common problems that occur with a bassinet or crib is that it has parts that are missing. Another issue is that it’s made with rails that drop on the side, which are a known hazard. Sometimes a problem that happens in a bassinet or crib is the placement of a blanket between the fitted sheet and the mattress. This can cause babies to get stuck and unable to reposition themselves. If your baby sleeps on her side, the situation can become a problem if she rolls onto her stomach and onto certain types of bedding. Some bedding is not recommended because it can result in suffocation.

You should avoid placing the following items in your baby’s bassinet or crib:

  • Quilts
  • Bumper pads
  • Comforters
  • Soft toys
  • Pillows

These are just a few examples of the items that can result in suffocation, especially before your baby reaches the age of 12 months. These types of items are generally not a problem beyond that timeframe, even if your baby sleeps on her side.

4. Be Consistent with Tummy Time

There are a lot of benefits associated with tummy time. Some of the primary benefits is that it helps your baby strengthen the muscles in her neck. It also helps to prevent the issue of your baby having flat spots on the head from not moving enough. Tummy time should occur approximately two to three times a day and should generally last several minutes for each session. It’s often good to have tummy time after your baby has had a nap.

5. Manage the Room Temperature

If your baby sleeps on her side, sometimes it’s because your little one is trying to get comfortable. By managing the room temperature you can alleviate any issues with discomfort. You should avoid letting the room get too hot because babies are able to sleep best when the temperature is comfortable. For the same reason, you should make sure the clothes that your baby wears are not too heavy when it’s warm. Consider the amount of clothing that you’re wearing because your baby will likely be comfortable in the same amount of clothes. If you’re only wearing one layer, your baby will also feel comfortable with one layer.

When it comes to colder weather, you should also manage the room temperature and make sure it’s comfortable. This is especially important because covering your baby’s head while she sleeps can create a hazard. Whether your baby sleeps on her side or on her back, you should make sure there are no hazards that can result in suffocation.

6. Provide a Pacifier

Studies have show that providing your baby a pacifier during bedtime and naptime is a good strategy for reducing the risk of SIDS. Generally speaking, your baby can be given a pacifier before she goes to sleep when you are no longer breastfeeding. It can be up to a month after breastfeeding before your baby will take a pacifier. Sometimes babies simply will not want a pacifier, which is perfectly fine. However, it’s also fine to try to give your baby a pacifier during bedtime until they become accustomed to it. If you try to give your baby a pacifier and it ends up falling out of her mouth because she went to sleep, you can place it back in her mouth.

While there are products on the market that have been promoted as help for reducing the risk of SIDS, sometimes there is no proof that these products work. Some of the most common products sold and promoted as a way to keep your baby safe include specialized mattresses and wedges. If you consider using any of these products to help keep your baby properly positioned while sleeping, it might be a good idea to check with the AAP first.

7. Refrain From Drinking Alcohol

A great way to help your baby develop good sleeping habits even before they are born is by making sure you don’t miss any of your prenatal doctor visits. There’s no doubt that a healthy baby is more likely to have good sleep patterns. You should also avoid other habits that can be dangerous to your baby’s health, such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. In fact, you should also stay out of environments where people smoke to avoid second hand smoke. What affects you can also affect your baby. These are issues that should be avoided while you’re pregnant and after you give birth.


When your baby sleeps on her side, it’s important to make sure you are looking at the entire picture. While it’s generally best for babies to sleep on their back, you have to consider all of the factors discussed. It’s important to make sure your baby is healthy and the environment in which your little one sleeps is optimal. This can promote the overall emotional and physical development of your child. Whenever you have questions about the sleep habits of your baby, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor regarding those concerns. You can also work with a sleep consultant to receive guidance and get additional tips.