If you're a pet parent, you've probably slept with your furry friend every night. But, what about little human babies that can't communicate effectively yet?
New parents often have tons of worries and questions circulating their mind constantly. One common question that pops up frequently is whether or not it's safe to let their four-month-old baby sleep on the stomach.
So, drum roll please...is it safe? Let's find out!
What Are The Odds?
First things first: What are the odds of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in general?
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), SIDS occurs in about one out of 2,000 live births.
However, throughout the years, researchers have found ways to minimize these odds.
Ways To Minimize Risk
Here are some tried-and-true tips for reducing risk:
- Place babies on their backs whenever they go to sleep.
- Ensure there aren't any loose blankets or stuffed animals near them.
- Make sure their crib meets safety standards.
Now that we know ways to keep our babies safe while sleeping let's talk more specifically - what about four-month-olds sleeping on their stomachs?
Should You Be Worried?
You might think that this topic would be cut and dry but oh no, there isn’t a straightforward answer here...
Many experts argue against letting newborns sleep on tummies because it increases instances of SIDS by as much as six times compared to infants who only sleep on their back (American Academy).
However (!!!), according to Dr. Moon from NIHCD, "After six months old -- independent rolling over reduces risk." Meaning after around halfway through your child’s first year; worry less about tummy time sleeping even when an accident happens concerning this manner.
So, four months is like floating in 'no man's land' of the "is it safe?" warzone.
Risks and Benefits
There are risks and benefits to both positions - on-the-back sleepers breathe easier due to gravity helping their airways be clearer. HOWEVER...
Little ones who spend time on their stomachs work those neck muscles and begin developing upper body strength which will later help with crawling (and the inevitable total destruction in your home).
Furthermore, readjusting during sleep can happen at any age levels - this may result in potential issues with rolling over/lifting head off the mattress for some infants.
When Might It Be OK to Allow Stomach Sleeping?
If you feel like you're reading a non-committal infomercial script here, that's because we still don't have an out-and-out response!
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against belly sleeping until six months old as SIDS risk drastically drops after that point where newly acquired skills reduce chance further; however, some providers believe waiting longer is necessary.
By around eight-month-old-range or so – an infant would likely have strong enough neck muscles to fully support his/her head while bunkering down for much-needed zzz’s easily.
Some Final Thoughts...
While stomach-sleeping gets a bad rap most of the time; there's no definitive answer regarding its safety concerning young babes specifically four months roughly give or take each child’s unique developmental track.
A blanket statement isn’t possible since every baby progresses differently/experiences life circumstances variedly ultimately dictating when they are ready for each stage shift (much like little humans grow up at varied speeds just like full-grown adults). But! We hope these tips above gave proper insight about how your baby can safely hit snooze-ville without worrying too much about his/her breathing pattern being restricted due to position alone.
After all - parents deserve some inactivity-time themselves (Netflix, anyone?).