The ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign was launched in 1991 to reduce the number of infant deaths from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and according to the Lullaby Trust, babies who are slept on their back for every sleep are six times less likely to die from SIDS than those who are slept on their front or side.
Despite this, a recent survey revealed that parents are still unsure of the safest way to put their baby to sleep.
38% of mothers are not sure whether a baby can sleep on their front and 55% are unsure if their baby can sleep on their side.
“The survey results have shown us we need to go back to basics. Following the ABC’s as part of a baby’s routine for every sleep day and night is a simple way to help protect them from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome”
Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play
As osteopaths we are aware that many parents are concerned about back sleeping and positional plagiocephaly, also known as ‘Flat head syndrome’. Although an increase in the incidence of positional plagiocephaly has been reported over the last 20 years (Mawji et al., 2013) it is important that parents consistently place infants on their backs to sleep to decrease the risk of SIDS.
The following simple strategies can help to prevent cranial asymmetry:
- Supervised tummy time several times a day while awake to help to lengthen and strengthen the neck.
- Stimulate or attract your baby’s attention to the side your baby avoids.
- Change your baby’s sleeping position on alternate days. Babies prefer to look out into the room, changing orientation allows your baby to have the same view without lying on the same side.
- When your baby is asleep, turn your baby’s head away from its preferable side.
Mawji, A., Robinson, V., Hatfield, J., McNeil, D.A., Save, R. (2013) The Incidence of Positional Plagiocephaly: A Cohort Study. Paediatrics 132(2)
The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths., Canadian Institute of Child Health., Canadian Paediatric Society. (2010) Positional plagiocephaly and sleep positioning: An update to the joint statement on sudden infant death syndrome. Paediatric Child Health (6)