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Back To Sleep And Tummy Time To Play


























Back To Sleep And Tummy Time To Play

By Joey Lenaburg, RNC

Although the numbers of cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, have been on the decline, it remains the leading cause of death among infants in their first year of life.  Research, education and prevention programs have helped the number of deaths decline.

Statistically most SIDS related deaths occur between 2-4 months of age.  Risk factors include male infants, prematurity or low birth weight babies, Black, American Indian, or Native Alaskan, born to mothers who smoke, babies exposed to second hand smoke, babies born in the winter months, and those babies who are placed on their stomachs to sleep.  Risk factors that people have the control to eliminate, such as smoking or smoking in the house, can help reduce the risk of SIDS.

A component to prevention strategies that is not discussed much is having babies sleep on firm mattresses that are free of toys.  This helps alleviate the possibility of suffocation.

Parents express concerns regarding placing their babies on their backs.  Some concerns expressed the baby may choke if she spat up, or babies would end up with a flat head.  There have been studies that address these concerns.  Research has demonstrated that babies are able to turn their heads prior to having any digestive problems.  In fact, babies placed on their backs have no more breathing or digestive problems than those babies who have been placed on their tummy.

There are ways to alleviate the potential of flattening of the head.  One way to do this is to place your baby facing a different direction each time she is placed on her back.   Another way is to be sure they get plenty of tummy time.  Tummy time means that you play with your baby while she is lying on her tummy.  Playtime can start as early as when you take them home from the hospital for 3-5 minutes each session, 2-3 times per day.  You can increase this amount of time and duration as your baby starts to enjoy this special time.

The “back to sleep” campaign is not new and has helped reduce the incidence of infant deaths from SIDS.  It is nice to know that so much research has gone into this campaign and continues to show improved outcomes for infants.


Joey Lenaburg, RNC is the Obstetric Clinical Nurse Educator at Community Medical Center.