Sicher schlafen: Die richtige Schlafposition für Babys

Sleeping safely: the right sleeping position for babies

Should babies sleep on their stomachs, on their sides or on their backs? It used to be common practice for babies to sleep on their stomachs and this is what the experts advised. Because the assumption was that babies lying on their backs choke on their vomit.

Table of contents:

  1. What is the best sleeping position for babies
  2. Reasons for the supine position
    1. Prone position
    2. lateral position
    3. The supine position is the safest sleeping position for babies
  3. Conclusion on the right sleeping position for babies
  4. So much for the theory 



1. What is the best sleeping position for babies

Today we know that the sleeping position is not decisive. The risk of choking on vomit is equally high/low in all sleeping positions. Today, the very clear recommendation applies from all directions: the supine position is the best sleeping position for babies, and at best for the entire first year of life. But why is that so?


2. Reasons for the supine position

It suggests that sudden infant death syndrome is related to the wrong sleeping position. Since the supine position has been advised, the number of sudden infant deaths has decreased significantly. Although the actual reason for the sudden infant death has still not been clearly clarified, it is easy to explain why the other two sleeping positions are dangerous:

2.1. Prone position

Babies are not yet able to roll over, let alone turn their heads. Their neck muscles are simply not that developed, so they simply lack the strength. Over the course of the first few weeks they start to be able to hold their heads up and turn them, but still not as controlled as in older children or adults. So if you lay the baby down on its stomach, it can happen that it eventually lies on its face by turning its head slightly. As a result, it can happen that it can no longer turn its head on its own or simply falls asleep on its face and does not notice that it is unable to breathe. As a result, the baby suffocates.

2.2. Lateral position

The side position is also often disputed. Often used to avoid or compensate for the one-sided flattening of the head. However, there is also the danger here that the child will turn onto its stomach and thus onto its face. There are special side sleeper pillows or towels that you roll up and wrap around your child so they can't roll over. On the one hand, the pillow/towel can slip, on the other hand, there is a risk that the baby will bury its face in it. Both increase the risk of suffocation. Therefore, the safest method remains the supine position.

2.3. The supine position is the safest sleeping position for babies

The safest sleeping position for babies is therefore still the supine position. In general, however, you should make sure that the baby is always placed on its tummy, even when awake, so that it trains its muscles and also prevents the head from flattening out unattractively. But don't neglect the fact that you won't get very far in life lying on your back, even crawling and crawling only works in the prone position. This is why the prone position is very important for children's development. 


3. Conclusion on the right sleeping position for babies

Sleep is very important for your baby's development and well-being. Important physical and mental processes take place during sleep, which are crucial for growth and regeneration. An incorrect sleeping position can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and lead to breathing problems. It is therefore very important, especially for newborn babies, that they only sleep in a supine position to avoid possible risks.


4. So much for the theory

In fact, my mother also told me that my sister and I slept on our stomachs, with the addition, I quote, "Everything is better known today, in the past children didn't die lying on their stomachs either." Yes, earlier, earlier, earlier... Me I myself see that such studies are not in vain and this is not about sweets that might cause a hole in the tooth. But this is a matter of life and death. When I was pregnant, I thought to myself that I would of course pay meticulous attention to it. As always, the reality looked a little different.


In the first few days in the hospital, lying on my back worked quite well. Once home, however, sleeping became more and more of a struggle. In the end, Leon only slept on me for the first few weeks, lying on his stomach. I also read somewhere that you should never let the child sleep on you, as this also increases the risk of sudden infant death. But honestly, what should I have done? Leon only slept with physical contact and it wasn't enough to lay him next to me, he wanted to lie on me, day and night. So during the day I sometimes sat for hours on the sofa with Leon on me. All around I was equipped with a mobile phone, food and drink, so I didn't have to move. I mean, most of the time I was awake and able to check if everything was fine with Leon and if he was still breathing, and I actually did that a lot. But that night I slept myself, me on my back and Leon lying prone on my stomach. He could have slipped down, he could have buried his face, I could have covered him too far with my blanket, or I could have accidentally crushed him. Yes, I knew all that, but that was the best solution for us. Of course I also tried to put him to bed, but he woke up immediately (!) as soon as I somehow moved him away from me and he immediately screamed. So he slept on me and it didn't happen, toi toi toi.


Over time I managed to get Leon to sleep in his little bed. Then I made sure that he was sleeping on his back. That also worked very well. Leon hated lying on his stomach during this time. It doesn't matter whether you're awake or asleep. Since he slept on his back at night, I naturally tried to put him on his stomach during the day. Catastrophe! He hated it, I didn't even put him down properly on his stomach before he started crying. So he lay on his back day and night and who would have thought it - his head isn't unevenly flattened. That's why I've actually done everything right to date when it comes to sleeping.


But the development of the little ones is rapid, so when Leon started to turn from his back to his stomach, his sleeping position gradually changed too. At about 8 months he discovered sleeping on his stomach. I always put him on his back in bed, but he would roll over right away. I let him sleep like that, what should I have done? I can hardly, permanently turn my child from the prone position to the back position. So the time for back sleepers was over. By the way, he still sleeps on his stomach to this day, always with his poppes up.


I also know from many other mothers that some babies only sleep on their stomach from the start. It just seems to be her favorite position. Sure, one should try that they sleep babies on their backs. But if that ends in hours of screaming, I'd let them sleep as they please. I'm also a stomach sleeper and couldn't sleep on my back and would be pissed if I had to. I can therefore completely understand the babies.

Frequently asked questions about sleeping safely

What should I do if my baby turns onto its tummy while sleeping?

If your baby turns onto their tummy on their own, this is fine as long as they are strong enough to turn their head and breathe freely. Otherwise, it is strongly recommended not to let babies sleep on their tummy, as this increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

What measures can I take to reduce the risk of SIDS?

In addition to choosing the right sleeping position, there are other measures you can take to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. These include not smoking near the baby, regulating the room temperature, not dressing the baby too warmly and regular check-ups with the paediatrician.

From what age can my baby sleep on its side?

It is recommended that babies sleep exclusively on their backs until they are able to turn over on their own. This normally happens at around six months of age. Until then, the supine position is the safest sleeping position.

Can I put a pillow or blanket in the bed to keep my baby in the right position?

No, it is not recommended to put pillows or blankets in the cot. These items can increase the risk of suffocation. Instead, use a sleeping bag or a special baby blanket that is suitable for use in the cot.