Why do babies have to lie flat until 6 months?

why do babies have to lie flat until 6 months

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Bringing your newborn baby home is both a wonderful but daunting experience for many parents. Often, you’ve gone from the safety of the hospital surrounded by experienced midwives and healthcare professionals to suddenly being back in familiar surroundings but questioning every option related to your little one’s life.  Then there can be a combination of prior experience, what we’ve seen on TV or what friends and family recommend; we can be overwhelmed when it comes to what’s best for our baby. A huge area of angst and concern for new parents centres around safe sleep. In this article we will focus on your baby’s sleeping position: in particular, should newborn babies lay flat on their backs? 

Should newborns lay flat? 


The Lullaby Trust explains that to ensure your baby is sleeping as safely as possible you should place them on their back to sleep both at night and for day naps. Being placed down in this supine position (flat on their backs) at the beginning of every sleep will significantly reduce the SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) risk. In some cases a doctor may advise  that you place your baby to sleep on their front or side for medical reasons but otherwise newborns should lay flat on their backs.  

Should babies lay flat or elevated?

Some parents will notice that their baby seems to sleep comfortably in their swing/bouncer/seat which is on an incline yet become immediately unsettled when laying flat in their moses basket. Many believe that the elevated angle can help if your baby is suffering from reflux as the inclined angle prevents spitting up and thus allows your baby to sleep more peacefully.  One of the main dangers of allowing your baby to sleep in their swing is that they may slouch down while sleeping at this inclined angle and cause the airway to be closed and thus cause a problem with their breathing. The safe sleeping guides do insist on making sure your baby is sleeping flat on their backs on a flat firm mattress. If you are keen on wanting your baby to sleep at an incline there are methods of doing this more safely than in a swing which would involve placing a cot wedge underneath your baby’s cot mattress. We do advise that you speak with your health visitor or doctor though if you plan on trying this. 

How long do babies lay flat in pram?

The NHS advises that until your baby can sit by themselves babies should be placed in prams and pushchairs that have fully reclining seats to allow them to lay flat.  Your baby may sit up as early as 6 months but generally this milestone is reached when babies are around 7-9 months of age.  In terms of the nap duration whilst in the pram, as long as your baby is lying flat, has appropriate clothing and is comfortable then there is no reason to disturb your baby’s nap after a specific amount of time. 

Lay baby flat 

We understand that in the early weeks and months, getting your baby to stay asleep without you can be a really demanding task. When you’re sleep deprived yourself all you want is for your baby to sleep for a little longer to allow you to sleep too. But it is essential we follow the safe sleeping guides which explain that laying your baby flat on their backs and on a flat surface is essential to reduce the risk of SIDS.

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