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How Can I Be Sure My Baby Stays on Her Back While She Sleeps?

I know I'm supposed to put my baby on her back when she goes to sleep, but what if she rolls over in the night or spits up?
- Arianne

By having your baby sleep on her back, you decrease her chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, the leading cause of death in babies younger than 1 year old, has been linked to infants sleeping on their stomachs.

Although your concerns about rolling over and spitting up are legitimate, there's good news — by the time your baby can roll over by herself, her chances of SIDS are greatly reduced. Plus, by putting your baby to sleep on her back, she'll get used to this position and probably prefer it.

As for spitting up, there is no increased risk of choking for healthy infants who sleep on their backs. If your baby has chronic gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or an airway problem, your doctor may suggest another sleep position.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013