What Could Happen When Your Baby Sleeps Face Down: All You Need To Know About SIDS

Finding a baby that is sleeping face down can cause any parent, new or not, to be highly alarmed. Babies who are at their first few months tend to lack the capability to prop their faces up during such circumstances, therefore increasing the risk for suffocation and death.

If you have a stubborn baby that just can’t seem to sleep on his back, it’s very important to be aware of the risks that arise when your baby sleeps face down.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about SIDS and how to keep your baby safe during his sleep.


What Is SIDS?

SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the top 1 cause of death for babies aged between a month and a year old in the United States. In fact, about 1,500 babies suffer from SIDS every year in the U.S.

Though SIDS has been known to affect babies that are up to 1-year of age, it often affects babies who are less than 4 months old.

Unlike any other disease or illness, SIDS is a condition without a definite cause. However, studies have shown that the risk of SIDS is increased the most during a baby’s sleep.

What Causes SIDS?

A lot of factors can increase the risk of SIDS. Here is a couple of things that could significantly cause the occurrence of SIDS:

Brain Dysfunction

  • Babies born with brain abnormalities are already at risk of SIDS. Sometimes, babies can be born with abnormalities that cause their brain to lose control of breathing and awakening from sleep.

Being Underweight

  • Babies that come to the world with a low birth weight tend to have a brain that hasn’t completely matured. Being so, babies who are born underweight tend to have abnormalities that can cause breathing problems and heart issues that significantly increases their risk of SIDS.

Sleeping On His Belly

  • Babies who are sleeping on their bellies increase their risk of SIDS because laying on their stomach can ultimately make it harder for them to breathe. Such a position can easily lead any baby to be suffocated in his sleep.

Sleeping On A Soft Mattress

  • Babies who are less than a year old do not have enough strength to prop their faces up whenever they’re lying face down. This is why soft mattresses are very hazardous to babies since a baby’s face can easily bury down the mattress and can immediately cause suffocation.

Sleeping With Parents Or Other Babies

  • Though you might think that sleeping in the same bed with your child makes it safer for him, it can actually increase the occurrence of SIDS because your weight on the mattress can make your baby roll over to his side or tummy, increasing the risk of finding his face down.

How To Prevent SIDS


Even though statistics show that SIDS occur pretty often in the United States, there are plenty of ways you can try to reduce your child’s risk of SIDS.

Try these following tips to avoid the occurrence of SIDS completely:

Keep Your Baby On His Back During Sleep

  • The act of putting a baby to sleep on his back has been proven to be so effective that it has caused a 50 % reduction in the occurrence of SIDS worldwide.
  • Though researchers are still unsure as to why keeping a baby on his back during sleep is effective at preventing SIDS, they do believe that letting your baby sleep on his back increases his capability to be aroused from sleep.

Create A Safe Sleeping Area For Your Baby

  • Try to put your baby to sleep on a firm and flat mattress to avoid the occurrence of rollovers. This means such waterbeds, beanbags, and couches.
  • Also, make sure that your baby’s sleeping area is free of any nooks and crannies that he can get his face buried in.
  • ​Another thing you should keep your baby’s bed clear of are toys, pillows, wedges, comforters, paddings, crib bumpers, positioners, and blankets.
  • If it’s quite chilly, you should use a wearable blanket instead or a warm onesie to keep your baby warm during his sleep.


  • One way to prevent SIDS is through breastfeeding. Breast milk contains a lot of vitamins and nutrients that can help your baby get a better respiratory control center. It is also much safer for your baby’s small airways since it’s completely hypoallergenic. It even contains immune system boosting properties that can fight chest infections.
  • Another great thing about breastfeeding your baby is that it significantly reduces the risk of gastroesophageal reflux that can lead to difficulty in breathing for short periods of time.
  • Plus, breast feed babies tend to be more capable of being aroused from sleep since they awaken more often to feed because breast milk is quickly digested.

Do Not Smoke Cigarettes

  • It is a known fact that cigarette smoke can harm the lungs of humans regardless of age. Babies who are exposed to cigarette smoke can gain a significantly increased risk of SIDS because the poison from the smoke ultimately causes damage to their brains respiratory control center.
  • When the respiratory control center in the brain is damaged, your baby can easily have difficulty breathing.

Use A Swaddle

  • Another extra step you can take to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS is to swaddle him up with a soft cotton fabric. Swaddling can reduce your baby’s movement during sleep. Though your first instinct might be to use positioner, I highly suggest that you go with swaddling instead to avoid suffocation since your baby can easily bury his face in the positioner.
  • To correctly swaddle your baby, use a soft cotton blanket and fold it diagonally to form a triangle shape. Gently swaddle your baby by using one corner of the triangle, hold it against your baby, and slowly wrap it snuggle around him.

When Is It Okay To Let Your Baby Sleep On His Belly


SIDS often affects babies that are less than 6 months of age. Though it is known that SIDS can affect babies up to 1 year old, you can rest easy knowing that the occurrence of SIDS after 6 months is very low.

At 6 months, your baby will have learned to find the best sleeping position intuitively. Your baby may also learn to be aroused from sleep due to lack of air during this age.

However, it is still important to practice the uttermost safety until your baby has learned to prop his face up whenever he gets his face buried in his mattress.

A Quick Recap


Finding your baby sleeping on his face can be quite alarming, especially when it has been known to be a great cause for SIDS. If your baby likes to roll over to his tummy during sleep time, know that you can always reduce his risk for SIDS by swaddling him, keeping him on his back, avoiding soft mattresses, and by keeping his sleeping area free of anything that can cause suffocation.

Remember to always practice the tips I mentioned above to prevent the occurrence of SIDS in your home.

If you would like to know more about baby care, please leave us your feedback below. We’ll try our best to help you in any way we can. Happy reading!

Kelley Lawless

I am Kelley, I have a smart and lovely daughter. After many years taking care of her, I want to share experiences with you in nurturing as well as advice about health for pregnant women.

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