My Infant Won’t Stop Sleeping On Her Stomach And It’s Making Me An Insomniac

shutterstock_116855842__1381077954_142.196.156.251My 4-month-old infant will not stop rolling over onto her stomach at night. This has been making me a total insomniac because of everything I have always read about the dangers of stomach sleeping for infants. It turns out I may be freaking out for nothing.

Babycenter quotes SIDS expert Fern Hauck:

Once a baby is strong enough to roll onto his stomach by himself, you don’t need to worry about him staying on his back all night. This is especially true if he’s been enjoying playtime on his tummy during the day, can hold his head up well, and can roll from his tummy onto his back again by himself.

To reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), experts recommend that you place your baby on his back when you put him down to sleep during his first year. So, even if your baby is rolling onto his stomach, you should still put him down to sleep on his back.

My now 3-year-old son did not turn over early. I don’t think he rolled onto his stomach by himself until he was about 5-months-old. My second child started rolling onto her belly by herself by the time she was 3-months-old. She’s now actively rolling onto her side and stomach to sleep, almost never sleeping on her back. Although I loved bed-sharing (despite the somewhat troubling statistics surrounding the practice) with my first child – I’m not comfortable doing that with my second. She rolls around too much. We’re co-sleeping instead, with her crib about a foot away from my side of the bed.

If you have an infant that turns over early like mine, it is beneficial to give her more tummy time during the day so she develops the muscles needed to roll back and forth. Once my daughter started rolling onto her tummy, I should have put more effort into tummy time to allow her to work those muscles. This is something I am going to devote more time to now, so she can become even stronger and I can worry less about her affinity for sleeping on her stomach.

Why is parenting an infant such a stress-parade? I look forward to the day when I stop checking to see if she is breathing every time I peek into her crib.

*Here’s a helpful guide to healthy sleeping for infants.

(photo: Matthias Krapp/ Shutterstock)

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  • Véronique Houde

    Don’t worry about it! Mine did that almost right after birth, and every nurse and doctor I spoke to told me it wasn’t an issue. Tummy time isn’t all that important really – your child will develop the muscles she needs in time. Turning around is also about coordination as much as it is strength – she probably doesn’t know how she does it right now, and even if she were strong enough by use of tummy time, it doesn’t mean that she would roll on her back more easily.

    • Maria Guido

      I’m supposed to be the second-time mom who doesn’t have to check and see if her child is breathing every half hour. I’m failing. ;)

    • Véronique Houde

      I only have one parenting philosophy. Here it is: “I have no fucking idea what I’m doing”. Once you accept and embrace that philosophy, you stop worrying so much about the details lol. At the end of the day, no matter what you do, she’ll learn to turn around on her own.

    • Véronique Houde

      You seem very vulnerable today Maria – how’s everything going?

    • Maria Guido

      Is it that obvious! Loooooong week love!

  • Emil

    My youngest was rolling over basically since birth. She would instantly turn to her belly if I put her on her back. I was told by a nurse to keep flipping her on her back during the night. No way in hell was I going to take that advice- I don’t disturb a sleeping baby.

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  • Stacey

    Mine does the same thing and has for weeks now (she just turned 4 months old). I put her in her crib on her back. She promptly rolls onto her belly. I still stress a little about it, but I know she’s fine.

  • Katherine Handcock

    I don’t understand how this recommendation has ended up getting altered in so many people’s minds — the recommendation (at least in the area of Canada where I had my kids) was ALWAYS “put them down on their back until 6 months and let them find their own sleep position.” I have had to calm down a mom friend because she kept finding her nine-month-old baby in the classic “bum up” sleep position! I’ve also had to talk another friend out of special ordering a crazy wrap that’s designed to essentially strap a rolling baby onto the crib mattress so they can’t move.

    I think the business of “parenting experts” has actually lead to a really negative side effect: the idea that there is a “right” way to do EVERYTHING child related. Obviously, there are some things that are guarantees (you should feed your kid, for example!) and things that are legally required (car seats), but so much of parenting is in an in-between world dependent on the personality, situation, and ability of both parent and child.

  • squiggysmom1

    When my babies were born, doctors were telling new moms to put their babies to sleep on their stomachs so they would not aspirate in case they threw up, My kids are fine. I really don’t think it’s a matter of life and death to prevent your baby from sleeping on her tummy. I imagine that the pendulum will swing back the other way one day. Put your baby to sleep on her back, and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

  • DatNanny

    Once they can roll over, they’re good! I know the stress doesn’t go away. SIDS is such a terrifying and devastating thing, I’ve even obsessed with year+ babies, checking up way more than necessary. But as long as you’re doing all the right things; tight, minimal bedding; on her back initially, she will be perfectly fine. And having her in the same room cuts the risk dramatically on its own.

    And has been mentioned, don’t worry about tummy time. Muscles and coordination will develop naturally. Just let her have plenty of unrestricted floor time (without strapping her into bouncers or walkers) and she’ll be a little scuttlebug in no time and you will regret it immensely as you no longer get to sit down because you’re constantly chasing baby. How she moves or her muscle development isn’t going to have an impact a fraction as much as following safe sleeping guidelines will.

    Be confident in yourself. You’re her mama, you love her, and you know you’re doing everything you can that is best for her. Get some sleep.

  • Bethany Ramos

    I feel like we are living parallel lives!! I remember that our due dates were close, and I have a 4 month old too that has just started turning to his stomach every night. I was Googling the same stuff for reassurance, but I do remember that I had to face this fear with son #1. Bonus, so far stomach sleeping has made him an even better sleeper. :)

    • Maria Guido

      Yes – she is a much better sleeper than he was! I guess I should stop freaking out and count my blessings!

  • Mikster

    Don’t sweat it. When I had my first in 87, we were told pout them ON their stomachs to sleep.

  • Cliff

    You’re being a bit neurotic. All mine were stomach sleepers. In fact we were told sleeping on their back was a risk for SIDS

  • NYBondLady

    I think most babies sleep better on their stomachs. I agonized about this forever and scoured the internet and researched SIDS. When you control for things such as blankets, smoking, etc, the risk of SIDS is really not much higher for tummy sleeping. Although, I did splurge on an organic mattress.

  • allisonjayne

    My mom said that when I was a baby, she was told to put me on my tummy to sleep so I didn’t choke (on spit-up I guess) and die in my sleep.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    My (5 week premie) daughter wouldn’t sleep on her back from the start. If I put her on her back, she’d only sleep for about 20 minutes. I went crying to my mom, in a fit of exhaustion, and she asked me if there were times my daughter slept really well. I told her, any time she was laying on me, she slept long. So my mom recommended putting her on her tummy. Sure enough, first night, she slept for 4 hours. She’s almost 7, and has only just recently started sleeping on her back as well as her front.

    • Nicole

      This is like me! I was 4 weeks premie and my mum was told to sleep me on my stomach to prevent me from choking if I vomited in my sleep (It was 1987). I’m now 26 and have only just started being able to fall asleep on my back.

  • Rachel Sea

    Almost all SIDS deaths are suffocation. If there is nothing in her crib that can smother her, she’ll be fine.

  • S

    That article doesn’t give troubling stats about bedsharing. It gives stats about SIDS and questions bedsharing.

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