Routinely putting a baby to sleep on the stomach raises her risk of SIDS about 4X. But SIDS risk jumps even higher (8-37X) when young babies (under 4 months) are put to sleep on the back…but accidentally roll to the stomach.
Of course, sooner or later, your baby will roll onto her stomach during sleep. So what should you do to protect her?
1. Establish Safe Sleeping Habits
For at least the first 4 months, always put your baby to sleep on the back snugly swaddled with white noise playing nearby. The sound will keep her calmer (less likely to fidget and roll), and the swaddling will make it harder for her to flip over. (FYI, Happiest Baby's SNOO Smart Sleeper is the only baby bed that prevents accidental rolling, via its clip-in swaddle. It also keeps your baby calm, by intelligently providing the right level of white noise and womblike motion to soothe fussing.)
2. Do Tummy Time Exercises
When your baby reaches one month, it's time to begin daily exercises to help her strengthen her neck and back. That will help her develop the ability to move her face out of a blanket or mattress in case she accidentally rolls to the stomach.
Once or twice a day, hold your baby upright in your arms with her head resting on your shoulder and her belly against your upper chest. Allow her to practice lifting her head, as you gently support her neck and head with your hand.
Place your baby with her tummy and face down on a sheet to give her practice moving her head and getting her nose and mouth free. (supervise her closely, and never leave her alone on her stomach.) The first few times, you may need to help by lifting her head a tiny bit and showing her how to swing her face to the side.
When your infant is two to three months old, place your hand under her chest during the tummy exercise to lift her a tiny bit and help her start learning how to use her arms to push up.
These exercises will teach her how to free her face by arching her back and lifting her head, in case she accidentally flips over in sleep.