Getting Newborn to Sleep on Her Back

Updated on July 17, 2010
C.G. asks from Fort Collins, CO
19 answers


I have an almost 2 month old who is a tummy loving kid and I need advice on how to get her to sleep on her back. She will sleep on her back but for only 30 minutes. We have tried swaddling her which cuts down on the arm/leg movement but does not get her to go to sleep. Thanks for any tips you can provide...

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answers from Detroit on

Let her sleep on her tummy. I've learned this with my second (now 6 mo), and it's been a lifesaver. I committed to the "Back to Sleep" campaign with my son and he didn't sleep through the night until he was 2 yo!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Personally I wonder if it's better for them to slep on thir bellies. It's great for their head and neck dvelopment. There was a big scare with the SIDS thing... admittedly it has cut down on SIDS, but there is some evidence that the babies that suffered from SIDS suffer for a lack of some chemical - I can't remember the name of it. I would be extra cautious to clear out the crib of all extraneous things, and not use a loose blanket, but if it were me, I would probably leave her be on her belly. As soon as I took my son to day care at 6 months, they retrained him to sleep on his belly not his back. He never went back. I think it's fine.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

I am a former NICU Respiratory Therapist and now a midwife. I have 3 girls, my youngest is 12 weeks. They have all slept better on their stomachs so that is how I put them to bed. As soon as they can turn their head from side to side, the risk of SIDS is greatly reduced. Don't worry about it. If she wants to be on her tummy, put her on her tummy.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

make sure there is nothing impeding her airway, no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, crib bumper, anything, and let her sleep on her tummy. My mother in law was horrified to discover I let our daughter, but I needed sleep too, and she wouldnt sleep for more than 10 minutes on her back (until I discovered swaddling) and she's fine.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

if putting her on her tummy to sleep will help her sleep , do it.
My oldest was like this. She WOULD NOT sleep on her back.
SIDS has parents scared to death these days when in reality they dont know what causes SIDS. When my siblings were babies 15 yrs ago it was put um to sleep on their stomach to keep them from spitting up and choking on it.
In another 5 yrs it will change again.
They know " risk factors" but everyone has risk factors for something. If I go out side I'm at risk of getting hit by a car speeding around the corner my house is on.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My first child, I always put him on his back. And he was a horrible sleeper. My 2nd child, refused to sleep on her back. Oh, the sleepless nights, and the frustration I felt. My husband finally suggested we lay her on her belly. At first I thought he was INSANE. After all, that "Back to Sleep" campaign was all we heard about.
But, what a difference it made!! She slept like that from then on.
With my 3rd, I didnt waste anytime putting him on his belly. And he is also a great sleeper.
There are certain risk factors with SIDS. Smoking, having a preemie baby, formula vs breastfeeding, etc.
Just keep those in mind when you make your decision.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

i know they say "Back to sleep" but they also say that some babies just won't sleep on their backs. so there really isn't anything that you can do because that is her preference. i know you want her to because of the SIDS thing but just say an extra prayer at night and let her do her thing. good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My twins (boy/girl) were 3wks old when we finally brought them home. While in NICU they were always on their backs or side. Then they started sleeping on their tummies with their heads turned sideways of course. I would always switch them from back, to sideways to tummies to make sure their heads didn't grow with a flat but nicely rounded. Some babies if they are always kept flat on they heads, since their scalps are so soft, get a flat side. Anyways, my twins always preferred their tummies, they would sleep that way. I was constantly checking up on them since they were also born at 7 months and so little. But they grew just fine, nice round heads (they are now 20 months and love to sleep on their tummies! I always lay them on their backs and as soon as I say my son that way he grabs his pillow and flips onto his tummy with his pillow on his back! Go figure :/
Your baby just prefers her tummy and it could be how she was in your tummy! It's ok. Just make sure her head is sideways and always check on her. Babies feel more comforted on their tummies, it makes them feel secure and the feel of something warm on their cheek is soothing! I hope I helped you :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Johnstown on

I know they say not to, but all 3 of our girls were 100% tummy sleepers. They would wake up as soon as they were anywhere near their sides or backs. I brought the issue up to my mom one day and she told me that's how they always used to put babies down. I didn't think anything more of it and just let them sleep how they wanted.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Can your baby roll over on her own? Can she raise her head? Can she turn her head?

If yes, even though she is only 2 months, she can now sleep on her tummy. Speak with her Pedi to confirm.

If she cannot not do these things, get a posiitioner, it is like a will keep her in a side position.

Our daughter could lift her head the moment she was born. They laid her on my tummy and when I spoke her name, she lifted her head and looked at me.

The nurse said our daughter would probably be able to roll over on her own before she was 3 months, and sure enough she did.. the doctor said to let her sleep on hr tummy, because I kept trying to put her on her back.. He said if they can lift, turn or roll, they will be fine..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lewiston on

I used a sleep positioner from WalMart... she loved it because it was snug but not enough so she couldn't move. I even put her on her side most nights, and the positioner prevented her from rolling over on her tummy. It takes some nights of crying but eventually she will get used to it... be consistent.

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Have you tried a positioner or a couple rolled up blankets to put on each of her sides? Talk to your doctor and see what he thinks about it and if he thinks it's fine. If she sleeps better that way, he just might say let her be. Who knows. But try the positioner or blankets.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I was always scared to death of putting a baby on his/her stomach to sleep. As sleep deprived as I was, I would still rather be beyond exhaustion from getting up with my child then to wake up to a dead baby. My advice would be to talk to your pediatrician about it. They are trained to look for cues about whether a baby is low enough risk to belly sleep. If the pediatrician gives the go ahead, by all means do it. Until then, I just wouldn't risk it. Working with and seeing families who have lost a little one to SIDS really showed me how devastating it can be and that it can happen to anyone, not just someone somewhere else you don't know. You seem to be trying really hard to get her to sleep on her back. I give you big props for not giving up and flipping her over!

My daughter slept in a swing (the Fisher Price lamb swing which is really reclined) for the first 3 months of her life which the pediatrician approved. You may ask about that as well. If she has reflux, putting her on her back hurts, but if she is inclined a little, it will really help. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I tried and tried to get all three of my kids to sleep on their backs and none of them did it, I finally caved and had them sleep on their stomachs. One thing I did try that did not work for me but may for you is a baby body pillow. It has a foam pillow on each side and cloth that the baby lays on in between. The pillows give the baby the sense that they are laying against something or someone. It might work for you.

Good luck!



answers from Great Falls on

Ok - I realize I'm a little tardy to the party. But, here's my 2 cents.

First - "back to sleep" is a great idea. The reality isn't as neat. Until about 30 years ago, all doctors said to be sure to put babies on their tummies to sleep. There was concern that if a baby urped while sleeping, they would choke. Then, one day all that changed, and "back to sleep" was all the rage.

Now while I understand SIDS concerns and do not in any way want to lessen the thought of them, please remember one thing: while babies are inutero, they are curled forward. Tummy sleeping is familiar and "safe" to them.

All 3 of my kids slept on their tummies from the start. For years, people have started out sleeping on tummies. If she's going to roll over anyway, just let her start there. She's already been doing it with no trouble, right? Let her sleep - it will be ok!



answers from Denver on

Sorry this is late. Sounds like you have lots of encouragement to keep her on her back, but if you are not comfortable doing that, you could try her side. There are some side propping pillows - we used one for our son who hated sleeping on his back. It seemed easier for him. I think doctors say side sleeping is acceptable - you could ask. At the time, 2 years ago, my doctor said it was fine.
Good luck,


answers from St. Louis on

From the time my son was 3 days old, he would NOT sleep on his back. He had a lot of gas problems so I put him on his tummy, swaddled. He still wakes up every night (he's almost 11 months old) but has slept on his belly ever since. We did have him in a co-sleeper (mini pack n play that the side opened up to our bed/attached to it) so I was very close to him at night. He was a very noisy sleeper for the first few months (grunting, just making noise in general) so that made me more comfortable. I didn't move him into his own room until he could roll over and until the 'main' threat of SIDS was over. I wouldn't worry about it too much.


answers from Harrisburg on

My daughter was the same as Laurie A.'s - she could lift her head ever since she was born and when I put her in the crib (swaddled) on her back she would immediately roll to her side and eventually her belly. I figured that if she could lift her head she wouldn't suffocate and she ended up being perfectly fine. Plus, as Beth said, they'll probably be telling us a different way to put them to sleep in a couple of years anyway! :) Good Luck!



answers from Denver on

My 3 boys all slept better on their tummies. I put my oldest onto his tummy at about 5 weeks and I was very scared because of all that I had read, but he slept most of the night for the first time! He slept so much more peacefully and as I became less nervous so did I. I started tummy sleep sooner with the other 2. They all have perfectly shaped little heads, which I attribute to the tummy sleeping. As long as your careful with what is in the crib and she likes it, let her sleep on her tummy. I had a friend lose her 5 month old to SIDS, he could roll over and was on his back when she found him. I think the back to sleep campaign has made us more aware of SIDS and what might be in the crib that could be dangerous, in my opinion being aware is the key and not back sleeping.

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