Have you ever wonder how much time babies need to sleep in a day? Well, their sleeping time will be getting shorter when they grow much older. A newborn will need at least 16- 20 hours of sleep in a day whereas a 6-12 month’s old babies only need about 10-12 hours sleep in a day. Therefore, it is important to ensure their right sleeping position to have a good quality sleep every day. What is the best sleeping position? Each baby is different and there is no right or wrong sleeping position here but as a parent we shall take precaution when it comes to choosing best baby sleeping position to avoid SIDS (Sudden Infant Dealth Syndrome).
Why sleep is important for babies?
Babies need enough of quality sleep for their growth development and functionality. Chinese used to say ” a child who has a good one night sleep, she/he will be able to gain an inch bigger” (translation from a Chinese proverb). It seems that quality sleep is indeed so important in child’s growth.
If we were to explain in more scientific way, a child has two sleeping cycles – Non REM ( Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and REM ( Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM is a light sleep where eyes moves quickly back and forth. Babies spend 50% of REM sleep than adult. Their REM sleep will be getting shorter by age. The good quality sleep during the REM state can promote or increase blood circulation more to the brain and the brain is in “active” stage. It is good for growth and development to their Central Nervous System (CNS). During Non REM stage, their growth hormone increases, good for their growth and metabolism.
Overall, infant sleep play an important role in cognitive development and physical growth. There are studies on cognition show that individual differences in sleep quantity and quality are particularly important for the development of memory, language, and executive functions. Studies on physical growth indicate the potential risk of sleep problems, in particular shorter sleep duration early in life, for overweight, obesity, or measures of adiposity in infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children. If you are interested in reading more of how good sleep can promote cognitive and physical growth, there is a link to the journal for more details review and studies from National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
What is SIDS?
SIDS is a short form of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is unexplained death in babies less than a year old and normally occurs during their sleep. Some sources said it is most likely related to baby’s sleeping position and co sleeping. Let’s find out the baby sleeping positions and their pros and cons.
Let’s talk about 3 sleeping position and their pros and cons on each sleeping position for infant.
1. Sleeping on the back
- Sleeping on the back is more relaxing, hand and leg will move freely and no burden to the internal organ.
- Baby’s face is facing upwards. There is less worry about their face been covered by the quilt, soft toys or pillow and causing airway obstruction.
- This position allows parents to monitor the babies sleeping condition better.
- It is best position to prevent SIDS.
- If babies is having medical issues, for examples some babies tongue tend to fall backwards and blocking the airway when they sleep on their back. For this reason, it is better to change their sleeping position to side or on their tummies.
- if babies snore when they sleep on their back or having difficulties in breathing. In this case, sleeping on the back may not be the best option.
- Some babies tend to vomit after feed or due to re flux, do not place them directly to sleep after feed. It is always a good practice by softly patting their back after each feed until you hear they burp. They may get choked with their vomit if you place them on the bed directly after feeding.
- If babies sleep too long on their back, their head will be flatten at one spot. It can be corrected by turn the babies head once in a while to the left and then to the right.
2. Sleeping on the side
- Sometimes, let the babies stay at the right side after the feed to avoid any vomit or re flux enter the airway. It is because if babies lay on the right side, the milk will flow smoothly entering pylorus into the intestine. On the other hand. Sleeping on the left side will have more tendencies to cause re flux and vomit.
- Sleeping on the side will cause some pressure to the internal organ and sometimes it helps reduce the bloating stomach.
- If babies are to be slept on the side, always make sure to switch left to right or right to left side once in a while. It is not easy for them to sleep longer on one side. Parent may help them switch side as they are still young to know how to roll over.
- This position may likely to cause SIDS. Parent shall monitor from time to time the babies face do not get obstructed by soft toys or other loose bedding.
3. Sleeping on the tummy
- Babies who sleep on their tummy is easy to fall asleep as they are more comfortable, they feel more secure and less awake due to startle reflex.
- If the babies vomit, they will not get choked by their vomit if they sleep on their tummy.
- For some medical reason, babies who are having some difficulties breathing when they lay on their back, it is better to let them sleep on their tummy.
- Sleeping on tummy will cause some pressure to the internal organ, sometimes it helps to reduce bloating stomach.
- If babies sleep with loose bedding, surrounded by soft toys or pillows, sleeping on tummy will likely to cause SIDS. Especially newborns, they do not know how to turn or lift their head up. This is why this sleeping position is the least favor by most parent unless it is due to medical reason.
Baby’s safety is number one concern when talking about sleeping positions. After analyzing all the pros and cons for each position, parents shall ensure which position is best for their babies in order to avoid SIDS. The best sleeping position will ensure the babies sleep much longer and better for their growth development and functionality.
Experts said sleeping on the back is the best position for normal healthy babies. After each feed, babies is suggested to be placed on their right side to prevent the choking in case they vomit. However, always place them on the back after a while.
I will love to hear some comments about your experience. Drop me a comment below and share your view.