I remember when I brought my son home from the hospital, my mom came to help for a week and she told me a couple of times that I should let him sleep on his tummy and maybe that was going to be the only way he was going to sleep. As if!
I was a new and scared mom and EVERYTHING I read said to put baby on his back. There was no wavering in the things I read. Come on mom, the AAP constantly says “Tummy to Play, Back to Sleep” and that’s what I wanted to follow, too. After all, they know more than me, right?
Occasionally, I get a parent who says that they could only get their baby to sleep on her tummy, so that’s what they did. Is that parent wrong to have her baby sleep on her tummy? Should babies really be sleeping on their tummy and that’s why we all struggle so much with sleep these days?
“The great thing about being a parent is that you get to make the decisions. You weighed the information available to you then decided that for your child, belly sleeping worked best. That’s your right as a parent.”
and I couldn’t agree more.
It gets confusing when you have the Dr. Sears site say something like “Remember that this is only a statistical correlation. It does not mean that if your baby sleeps on her tummy she’s going to die of SIDS. Current SIDS rates are around one in a thousand babies; meaning that there’s a 99.9 percent chance your child will remain a healthy little girl regardless of her sleep position.”
Add to this, the study at Arizona State University last Fall stating that “…researchers found that the number of babies who have developed flat-headedness has dramatically increased since 1992. The increase coincides with the American Academy of Pediatrics launch of a ‘Back to Sleep’ educational campaign that recommended parents place their infants on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.”
These two things almost make you feel a little more comfortable with tummy sleeping. I guess that’s typical, something comes out as good for you, then bad for you, and then good for you again.
For ME, it was the chance of regret that made me persevere in helping my son sleep on his back (or rather on his side, actually) even though there was a possibility he might sleep better on his tummy. We struggled SO much with sleep, but even if it was a rare occurrence, IF something happened to my son I would forever wonder whether it was the tummy sleeping. Forever, I might blame myself for ignoring the AAP’s recommendation. It was just too big of a risk and too heavy of a burden that I might have that I personally chose that tummy sleeping was NOT an option to solve my baby’s sleep problems. I saw the “back to sleep” issue as a temporary one, until he learned to roll over on his own.
In our case, it was 100% true. My son HATED to play on his tummy. He HATED tummy time. But, one day, he did flip onto his tummy and he did start to get used to tummy time and lo and behold, he flipped to his tummy to sleep and he slept sooo much better! Once he started rolling onto his tummy to sleep, I didn’t bother rolling him back. Even though he slept so much better, just like my mom said he would, I still don’t regret my decision one bit (and it’s not because I don’t want to admit my mom was right! :D).
There are always so many what if’s and if you have heard of The Butterfly Effect, you know that any small change in my son’s history might give me a different boy than I have today (or maybe I wouldn’t have my boy :(). Today, I have a son who is reading at the age of 4, counts to 100 (by 1’s, 10’s and working on 5’s), and knows that if he has 5 tens, he has 50, and all the other numbers to 100. He is doing so well, and though he is still that persistent child who is difficult to parent some days, he’s doing so awesome that I wouldn’t go back and change many things in our past. I do wish that I knew more back then that I know now, but it warms my heart so much to share it with all of you and, hopefully, save you the tears that both my son and I shed way back when.
I pass no judgment on parents who make different decisions than I did. I’m a worry wart and follow rules to the letter, sometimes. And, then there are times you need to make your own rules. We all need to make the rules that make sense for our family. You know your baby and your situation best and many times, your instincts will take you further than you think. However, it would be irresponsible of me not to stress the importance of putting your baby on his back to sleep. SIDS rates have dramatically decreased with the “Back to Sleep” campaign. So, please do take your time to review the AAP’s guide to safe sleep, so you can make your own informed choice.