Sleeping Back Vs Belly

  • Ok..i am a new mom...My son was born with a heart defect and required immediate open heart surgery. We spent a whole month in the CICU at PCMC in Utah. Now we are home...he had severe we had him sleep on his side with a sleep positioner...he has grown out of that now (4 1/2 months old) but when we started to lay him on his back at night to sleep he hates it and will not relax. I have had to place him  in a make-shift bed similar to the NICU beds at the hospital. Elevated head and leg support-but I don't  want him to get too used to this...but when I try to lay him on his back-flat he will wake up and fuss. Acting like he is uncomfortable.

    During nap times I have layed him on his belly and he sleeps great! Do I dare let him sleep on is belly at night. I have heard that is not a great idea. But he can hold his head up well, rolls over from back to belly, but has not figured out how to roll from belly to back...

    What should I do??


  • I would definitely talk to your doctor before you make any changes in his sleeping position. With a heart defect, he may require different positioning in order to sleep comfortably and oxygenate well. Placing him on his stomach is not a good idea, because it does increase the risk of SIDS. Back to sleep is always best! You can check out more information at: Yet due to your child's medical history, I would consult with your pediatrician or pediatric cardiologist about positioning him at night. If he is uncomfortable on his back, they may need to be aware of this. Good luck and let us know what happens!

  • Hmm - what a dilemma! I second MommyRN4's suggestion of talking to your pediatrician. If your son cannot roll from belly to back, then I probably wouldn't place him on his stomach. He can't roll out of a poor breathing position if he needs to. Perhaps you could slowly lower the elevated bed week by week until he is generally flat? Some people place a pillow under the mattress itself - never in the crib - but under the mattress so the that head of the mattress is elevated when babies have colds, etc. If you did that for your son, perhaps he could lay flat but have the entire mattress at a bit of an incline. Just some thoughts but I'd give the pediatrician a call for sure. Hang in there!

  • Thank you for the great advice. Well since I little tyke has now learned to roll from his belly to his back! I have been slowly limiting the "NICU support-bedding" from his crib. It is almost flat!! Thanks for the suggestion!  I had apts with both his pediatrician and cardiologist-both agreed that back is best (I do agree also) and they said there is not a reason as to why sleeping on his back would hurt him and being on his chest for "tummy time" is just fine. He has healed up nicely!

    But now here is my next question...I do lay him down on his back to begin with...but the other night I checked in on him and he was sleeping on his side-quite stable in fact. I returned him to his back. Later that "morning" I found him on his belly...he had obviously made his "MOVE" So is that ok that he is doing this...or should I be more concerned and if so what can I do about...

    I hate to sound like a freaky mom, but it was such a scare to get him here and I just don't want anything else to happen.

  • Once a baby can roll in bed, there is very little you can do about it. This means that they are typically able to roll out of any compromised position they need to. You said your little man can roll from belly to back now, which is a great sign! If a baby is rolling in their sleep, don't worry too much about it and just make sure any excess blankets or crib bumpers are not in the crib so that he can't roll into something that will obstruct his breathing. Sounds like he is growing and developing quite well! :-)

  • dleavitt-Wow your little guy is sure a fighter.  It sounds like things are stable now, but what a begininning! I'm guessing that his voyage home was ever more sweet than you could have imagined! I want to applaud your parenting and the way that you are dealing with everything.  It sounds like your lives are up, running and headed in the right direction now.

    I am guessing that you got a lot of great resources from the CICU.  I also want to point out the website that MommyRN showed you for info on sids.  It is maintained by the academy of Pediatricions and has great info on lots of other topics as well.  Here is the link:

    It sounds like you've solved your current dilema but I hope you will continue to visit the boards with further questions or just for support!

    Take care,