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)