51 answers

3 Week Old Sleeping on Their Side

Hello Everyone,
My 3 week old has caught a cold from our 20 month old. I have 2 questions, the first one is, is there anything else I can do for her other than Vicks vapor rub? She hasn't had a fever, she is just really congested. My second question is can I have her sleep on her side? I know they recommend infants sleeping on their back and she does most of the time. But with her being so congested she seems to sleep better on her side. For one of her naps today I moved the wedges closer together to prop her up. I sat next to the basinet to watch her and she slept much better. I am just looking for some input.

Thank You for all your help.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi J.,
I have a 7 1/2 year old & 18 mo. old (we wanted them closer in age but it didn't work out). I always put them to sleep on their sides when they were babies. I didn't have the wedges, we rolled up hand towels & put 1 on each side. Have you tried a vaporizor in the bedroom? Also, did the hospital give you one of those blue suction balls? They helped my girls a lot when they were stuffy. Good luck & try to get some rest!

becareful my doctor told me NOT to use the vicks rub. read bottle carefully i think it said under 6 months do not use some study done recently, he recommended little noses vapor spray and humidifier. all my kids sleep on belly since 6 weeks ..

I would think what ever works for you. None of my boys every slept on their backs. I honestly think side sleeping is better.

More Answers

My children both slept on their sides, the nurses in the hospital did it too. You can use a saline spray and nasal bulb. Put the drops in each side and let it settle for a few seconds, then suction it out with the bulb. Another option is to prop up the end of the mattress with a pillow or blankets (placing these under the mattress, not the baby), or let her sleep in her car seat or bouncy seat since that will keep her head elevated.

Put a cool air vaporizer in the room with her while she is sleeping. My doctor always has us do that when our kids are congested or coughing.

I don't think side-sleeping is a bad thing, but if you're worried about it, try proping the baby up. You said basinet, so this may not work for that (I've only tried it in a crib). Take a few regular sized bed pillows and put them under the head end of the matress so baby is at about a 45 degree angle. If this isn't possible, consider letting baby sleep in the bouncy seat or infant carrier. The angle helps the mucus from the sinuses drain out of the nasal cavity, making it a bit easier to breath. Hope this helps.

becareful my doctor told me NOT to use the vicks rub. read bottle carefully i think it said under 6 months do not use some study done recently, he recommended little noses vapor spray and humidifier. all my kids sleep on belly since 6 weeks ..

My babies always slept in the wedge on their sides at night. I just made sure the wedges were hitting about midchest so there was no way to cover their mouth. Also, it helped round out their head so they didn't get a flat spot on the back.

I think she should do fine on her side. If you like you could try letting her sleep in her car seat with her head propped up as well. A cool mist vaporizer should help too.

Hi J.,

The suggestions I got from my doctor when my kids were that little and had colds were these: tilt the head of the bed a little - this helps with drainage (sometimes I even just let my kids sleep buckled in their carseats to keep them upright). Use a vaporizer, this really helps keep the air moist and will REALLY help with congestion. Lastly, buy saline nasal drops for infants and put a few in each nostril and then suction out the "gunk" with a bulb syringe. Colds are always tricky with little ones - hope she's feeling better soon!

When my son was 2 weeks old he got r.s.v (respiratory syncitial virus) and when i got home i used a humidifier pointer away from his crib and used wedges to prop him on his side for his naps but at night i elevated his matress so he could stay on his back only he was actually able to breath and didnt cough nearly at all..i hope this helps

My newborn sleeps on his side too with the wedges/sidesleeper- he's almost six weeks old & I feel comforterable with it. also, you could try an incline (buy one or just use blankets) to go under crib or bassinet mattress, to slightly incline baby's torso while sleeping- I remember that really helps with congestion!

Sleeping on her side should be fine. Things I did when my daughter was congested were:
1. Use a cold mist humidifier
2. Use saline drops and an aspirator
3. Put towels or pillows under the top of the mattress so she is sleeping on a little bit of an incline.

I hope she feels better soon. It is so hard to watch your little one sick and know there is not much you can do.

If you are propping her up with the wedges so that she can't roll to her stomach, she should be fine. One of the very best things I have ever used for babies/toddlers with colds is a humidifier. I use it for myself when needed too. During the winter months when the air is dry, it has been a lifesaver for congested kids. It just adds moisture to the air keeping the mucus from drying up inside the nose/mouth making it easier to get rid of.

My pediatrician actually recommended that I place my son on his side to sleep (especially since the back of his head was getting flat). I also recommend Saline Nose Drops - my little guy is always congested and they really help him breathe better. Basically you just squirt in the drops, then suction the nostrils.
Hope she feels better soon!

Saline drops or nasal sprays are good for congested noses. I'm sure you can find them in the pharmacy area of any store. I've never actually bought it as I haven't had any trouble with my kids having congested noses, but I'm assuming they would have a smaller bottle in the baby section.

My kids won't sleep on their backs. I tried putting them both to bed that way and they would wake up almost immediately unless I held them until they were in a deep sleep state. They both are belly sleepers. Well, my daughter will sleep however she happens to pass out, lol. But, when she was a baby, it was always on her belly. The thing to be careful of with young babies is making sure that there are no breathing barriers near their faces.

the only thing that the doctors recomend is that you don't put you child to sleep on their tummy cuz of sids. you can put your baby to sleep on her side if it helps. hope that you little girl gets better soon.

A cold is the worst!!! I agree with the other postings, prop the head of the bed, saline drops, use your wedges to let her sleep on her side if it seems to help. We also use the plug in that help with congestion, I think Vick's has a brand and so does Pediacare, so they are safe for kids and they have a nitelite attached to them!! Hope she feels better soon. good luck!

My girls all were belly sleepers, just wouldn't sleep any other way. I know what the AAP says, but a sleeping baby is better than a screaming one. It also helped with the congestion, because it didn't collect in the back of their throats. If you use Vicks, be sure it is the baby Vicks, one of the ingredients in regular Vicks is harmful to babies and my cause death even. We also used the vaporizer. When my first was sick and didn't feel good, I would let her sleep in her swing, that's where she was the happiest.

Since baby is only 3 weeks old I would try the car seat. It always did wonders for us. Or raising the mattress on the bed might work too. You could also prop her up on a boppy but they don't recommend that, why I don't know, if you are near by and she isn't rolling yet. That call would be up to you. Good luck sick little ones make everyones life difficult.

My baby always prefered sleeping on her side, so I think that's fine. When she got her first cold/stuffy nose, the dr just told us to keep a humidifier in the room. That, and Tylenol for fevers, seems to be his answer for every ailment so far. Hope your baby girl gets better soon.

You might try having your baby sleep in the car seat. My first son had acid reflux terrible and had a SIDS episode for some unknown reason. The doctor suggested we hold him up all night, but that wasn't an option all the time.

We would buckle him into his car seat, tuck him in with a blanket on his legs and warm sleepers for his upper body (winter baby). We would put the car seat in the crib. We also put the baby in a bouncer until he could move around more and get out.

My little would never sleep on his back like he was supposed to. Once he was about 4 months old... I think... we tried to transition him to sleep on his own. He would just roll over to his tummy. I just made sure to dress him in warm clothes and not use blankets that could get scrunched up near his face. Sooo...

I think you need to do what works for you. Some parents prop their babies up to let the congestion roll down into their tummies. You can buy foam or put something under the mattress to tilt it a bit.

I think you can use the Vicks plug in things and a humidifier. Some say a cool mist humidifier is best and some say a cool mist. We use a cool mist and it always seems to help my dd breath when she's sick. There's nothing wrong with your little sleeping on her side. My daughter wouldn't sleep any other way (and still won't). Also, saline in the nose followed by a bulb syringe works really well to get out some of the loose mucus.

About your child sleeping on her side: my son hated his back from day one! So the only way he would sleep was on his side at first. Then when he was about 2 months he decided he didn't like his side anymore. So the only way he would sleep was on his tummy. Yes...it was scary, but he was so comfortable, i just let him go. Until i was comfortable with this, i watched him like a hawk! So i think that the side is fine. If she is sleeping better for you like this, i would stick with it.
What to do about her congestion:
*I used vick's baby rub as well-i put it on his chest and a little bit right under his nose.
*There is also decongestant strips/patches that you can get at cvs, drug mart, walgreens. Place the strip as high as you can on her left or right side of chest. This worked well at night.
* Run a cool mist humidifier in the room. This will add moisture to the air and help her breathe easier. Carefully read directions on box before using.
* Raise the bed-this will help your child breathe better and her mucus to drain. (Maybe a small pillow under mattress? Or a couple of blankets)
* Most of this info is off the website- thomsonhc.com......i have a small packet of info that was given to me from St. john westshore hospital
* NOw i used this on my son when he was 5-6 weeks old. The way you do it might sound a little bad, but it works better than anything i have ever found over the counter for a decongestant. First, make this solution- mix 1/2 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of water. Make sure the water is warm. Make a fresh batch of this every few days and keep it in a clean bottle. Use a clean eyedropper to put drops into nose. Place your child on the bed....stand in front of her. (you might have to have someone gently hold her head still while you place drops into nostrils. This is what i did....i would place one drop in first nostril and then quickly place another drop in the other nostril. Then repeat this step again quickly. (so each nostril will get a total of two drops)Once the drops are in, your child will be crying and then you will know when it hits the back of her throat because she will cough for a second or two. (it sounds bad, but it really isn't). Once you get the hang of it, you will become more comfortable when doing this again in the future if needed. (I still do it till this day, and my son his 2 1/2). You probably want to do this maybe 3-4x a day for 3-4 days. This solution really breaks up the mucus. If you would like, you can use a nose sucker after this process. One last thing, even though your baby will be crying, do not pick her up until a couple of seconds. YOu have to give the solution a chance to work its way down the nasal passage. Like i said, the process might sound bad, but i think this little home remedy is better than any saline drops that are on the market. It will help your child sleep and take bottles better.
**** Let me know how it turns out!!



I bought Little Noses - it's saline spray/drops, depending on which way you hold the bottle. My Dr. recommended it. Also, I found a warm steam humidifier where I could put Vicks in a well, and the steam would blow across it. My Dr. also said to drop one end of the mattress to the lowest crib setting while elevating the other end so that she's not completely flat. My 14 mo. old has only slept on her back ONCE since she was born! Belly sleeper and no problems. I have a monitor right on her crib so I hear every breath - she's just fine. Good luck to her!

You don't say if you breastfeed or not and it does make a difference in this situation. Here are things that make it less likely for a baby to be affected by SIDS:
pacifier use
being female (it affects males 2-6 months most)
tight-fitting sheets and no quilts or blankets

So, a combination of those lessens the risk already. One thing you can do to help is either buy a sleep positioner or roll up receiving blankets on either side of her. With your credentials, I'm sure you know how to use a nasal aspirator/bulb seringe, make it your new best friend! Also, if you are in fact breastfeeding, express some in to a dish and use an eye dropper to put a few drops in each nostril. I know it sounds weird, but breastmilk, among it's other fabulous qualities, is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and easy on the nose (making it better than plain saline solution).

Good Luck! Hope she gets over it soon:)

I would keep her head elevated like maybe in a car seat until she is feeling better.My niece slept in one until she was 9 months old because of sleeping problems with asthma.That way the congestion won't settle in her little chest.Her bowel movements may get a little runny from the phlym but any thing is better than it turning into something worse.If it lasts more than 6 or 7 days I would have her see a doctor.

My son's pedi said side sleeping was ok as long as he couldn't roll over on his belly. For a bassinet, you can roll up a towel or two and place them at the head of the bassinet so that the end is slightly raised. We used this and the sleep positioner to help my son with acid reflux. If you choose to have her sleep in her carseat, make sure she's strapped in. We've also used Baby Vicks rubbing only a little on his chest, but also rubbing a little on the outside of his sleeper. Like someone else said, sit with your baby in a warm, slightly steamy bathroom (in her diaper only) for about five minutes at a time (a few times a day is OK) and then suction out her nose. Finally, a cool mist humidifier (we have the ultrasonic version from Vicks) works great, but you have to clean it regularly. Best of luck with your little ones.

When my girls were little, side sleeping was the way drs suggested. They did very well with it and I kinda thought it was better. You might also try a vaporizer in the room to help break up the congestion.

How about putting her in her carseat, so she can sleep more upright? It seemed to work for my grandaughter very well.

I would try a cool mist humidifier at night to help with the congestion. I would check with your pediatrician about sleeping on the side, but babies often seem to naturally do this anyway. Vicks vapor rub seems too strong to be putting on a 3 week old. I'd check with the doctor or pharmacist about this first.

She will be fine sleeping on her side. If that is more comfortable for her then let her do it. Keep the wedges closer like you have them now and then she wont be able to roll to her belly. The only concern that doctors really have is puting a baby to sleep on their belly because of sids. There is no problem with letting your baby sleep on her side. I let my kids sleep on their sides when they were infants or on their backs. Don't worry any she will be fine.

I am 31 and have been married for almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 10,7, and 4.

My son had pneumonia at about 6 weeks old. They recommended raising the foot of the bed so he slept with his head lower than his feet so the mucus would move to his head and he would cough it out rather than have it continue to drain into his lungs. Sounded strange to me, but it did help a lot. Are you using a vaporizor of any type? If not you may want to put one up in the room with the baby.

About 18 yrs ago they suggested babies sleeping on their side, they even had them doing it in the hospitals. So what I would do when I got home was take 2 recieveing blankets and roll them up and put a hair band (rubber band) in the middle to hold it together and tuck one in front and the other in back so the baby couldn't roll. It works great!

please don't use the vapor rub on your baby at such a young age, it has been proven in countless studies to actually cause pneumonia. put a cool mist humidfier in her room and elevate the head of her bed about 2 inches, pediatricians recommend a baby sleeping on their back or side, just not their tummy. you can also buy the nasal saleine solution to break up & suction anything from her nose, you only suction in the mouth area if you can see it. good luck, god bless, & my prayers are with you. my daughter had RSV when she was 2 & 3 months old & respiratory infection at 5 mo. old, the safety 1st nasal asperator are the best ones i found to use.

I always had my LO sleep on a boppy pillow and yes i know people here will arguee that fact BUT when they were sick and congested it helped them sleep better. that i i used a vaporizer in the room. good luck J. hope your LO gets better soon..


You could try putting the vicks on the soles of her feet. It works wonders!

Congrats on the new baby!
My baby caught a cold at 2 weeks, and I propped her on her side some and it helped. I also tried putting rolled blankets under one end of her crib (she was in the pack-n-play at the time, and it seemed to work better with this).

I hope she's feeling better soon!

When my girls were babies I never put them on their backs. Always on their tummies or their side. My oldest was a preemie and I still had her sleeping on her tummy or her side. Ppl say they suffocate on their tummies? Pull the sheet tight, take all the toys out, IDK, common sense I guess. But I wouldn't think it bad if you propped her up while she's on her side, raise her mattress up some too, that will help. They have those cuddle pillows that you can get. Awww Poor baby girl! I miss mine being babies. They are 17 and 13yo. now. 17 yo is going to College next year. Awww so precious, enjoy her.
Good luck with the cold, keep that snot sucker handy.

If you have a bouncy seat (or even a car seat will do), at that age you can even let your baby sleep there. Our pediatrician actually recommended this solution for the same situation. Make sure you strap her in though.

When my son was about a month, he also got a cold. We took him into the shower with us before we put him to bed. It really loosened everything up for him and then we used a nasal aspirator to get everything out. We also propped his craddle mattress so he was more elevated and could breathe better and put a humidifier in his room. It is so hard when they are this little and sick! Good luck!

Hi J.,

Congratulations on your new baby, and so sorry your little ones aren't feeling well. We purchased a incline for my DD's mattress (they aren't very expensive). It goes under the sheet and helped to elevate her when she had colds. At lot of times people use them for acid reflux too. Hope this helps and good luck!

So I am no medical expert but my kids all slept ontheir sides,in bed with me and my husband for hteir first year. Every body is okay. I always worried about my kids chocking and I left them onthier sides. Call your pediatrician becasue of liability they will say something like the american pediatrics association reccomends which means go with your gut, but I covered my rear......I alwasy went with my gut youare the mom, you know what is best and can asses a situation for what it is temperary and for a good reason. Besides in about 3 more weeks yourbaby will be rolling over on their side after they fall aslweep anyway!

I always went with the cool mist humidifier, saline spray in the nose (obviously very gently at this age-couple of easy drops allowed to run in) combined with suction, and the mattress elevated a bit on the head end with a few thin blankets underneath.

I have 4 little ones... the oldest liked sleeping on her side. At that time I was very young and had no $, not that I have much now, but anyways... I use to roll up a blanket and but it behind her back to keep he on her side. She is now 13 yrs old, so it didn't hurt her in anyway.

The younger 3 were and still are (4 yr, 3 yr & 1 yr) tummy sleepers... I know your not to do it, but I've had no issues with my little ones not sleeping on there backs.

There isn't really any meds you can give your little one... she needs to be able to cough out whatever gets into her lungs, so the Vicks is about all you can do. It sucks, because you want to make her all better.

Hope she feels better soon!

There have been some other great responses.
--Try letting her sleep in the car seat
--lifting one end of the bed so her head can be a little elevated (helps the mucous drain).

I'd also try a humidifier in the room.

Our first daughter would NOT sleep on her back. Every time we laid her down on her back, she was up before we took a step away from the crib/bassinet. We ended up having her sleep on her tummy. Of course, the pediatrician's office was "We have to tell you we don't like that...she should be sleeping on her back." But since we both don't drink or smoke and checked on her often, etc. etc. they still didn't like it, but said those things were helpful to know.

Good luck - and hope she gets better soon!

Most doctors I know sleep their newborns on their tummys. My sons doctor recomended the same. The hospital staff with both my children brought them in sleeping on their sides.

my two year old always slept on her side. No matter how we laid her down, she just rolled to the side and she slept. Get a humidifier if you don't have one already and use that, when she was just a few weeks old she ended up sick and we were told to take a pillow (the size for us) and tuck it under her mattress (so she's propped up) just slightly enough that she can drain the fluids. Also, take the syring (nose cleaner), and keep using that to clean her nasal passages. I always put vicks on her feet and cover with socks. And maybe a tad bit on her back. Soon enough she was feeling a little better. When she's older (much older) a little bit of water would help. Good Luck!

Hi J.,

My daughter got her first little stuffy nose really young too...one thing that helped a lot was getting a crib wedge (not the two little positioners) It's a big wedge that fits over half the crib, goes under the sheet and safely elevates their head. I used it everytime she was stuffy and it seemed to help her sleep a lot better along with a humidifier occasionally. The crib wedges are not very expensive (around $15) I think babycenter.com has them and babies r us too.

I do the LGI and swimming lessons thing too - very part time to get out of the house.

Best wishes to your little one!


Do you put the vicks on just her chest? if you do try rubbing some on the bottoms of her feet as well. Not sure why this works but it does. I have done it with all three of my boys (youngest is 5 mo).

As for sleeping on her side, as long as there is nothing to "sufocate" her ie pillow or blankets, she should be okay. I breastfeed in bed with my son and therefore he sleeps on his side.

Hi J.,
I have a 7 1/2 year old & 18 mo. old (we wanted them closer in age but it didn't work out). I always put them to sleep on their sides when they were babies. I didn't have the wedges, we rolled up hand towels & put 1 on each side. Have you tried a vaporizor in the bedroom? Also, did the hospital give you one of those blue suction balls? They helped my girls a lot when they were stuffy. Good luck & try to get some rest!

Try saline nose drops to loosen mucous and a aspirator/"booger snatcher" to remove them. If she sleeps good let her sleep that way. Don't forget and not use the wedge though.
Good luck!

I would think what ever works for you. None of my boys every slept on their backs. I honestly think side sleeping is better.

Hi J.! As a nurse, I've never put my kids to bed on their backs, just in case they spit up and the only place it had to go was down their throats. I have always put my kids on their sides. If they spit up, it comes out, and not back down their throats. I think she will do just fine on her back, especially if she's breathing better. Isn't it sad when their noses are all stuffed?! I have always used a Q-Tip to get any yuck out of their noses too, along with the bulb syringe. Good luck! I hope she's feeling better soon!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.