Toddlers have their own way of doing just about everything, even when they're totally fast asleep. But some of their nighttime habits can leave parents scratching their heads in confusion. For instance, why do toddlers sleep sideways in bed? Sometimes these little contrarians won't even use a bed the usual way.
For the most part, experts agree that it's best for parents to let sleeping toddlers lie. "Yes, they tend to fall asleep in unusual ways. No, parents should not be concerned," Dr.Abhinav Singh M.D., Facility Director of the Indiana Sleep Center, tells Romper. In a sense, sleeping the "right" way in a bed is a learned behavior. "Children move a lot in their sleep," pediatrician and sleep coach Dr. Nilong Vyas, M.D. tells Romper. Squirming around to find a comfortable position at the end of a sleep cycle is totally normal, Dr. Vyas explains. "Even adults do this but when they go back to sleep, they tend to do so in the typically oriented fashion with head towards the headboard of the bed and feet towards the footboard. Toddlers don't tend to regard the 'normal' positioning of the bed enough to reorient themselves to the ‘correct’ or typical positioning." If your kiddo happens to feel comfy when flopping sideways in the bed, then there's a good chance they're going to sleep that way, too.
So do you need to do anything about your kid sleeping sideways? "As long as the child can sleep through the night with fewer interruptions, less getting up at night, and no snoring, you should just let nature drive it," says Dr. Singh. For the most part, these unusual (and sometimes hilarious) sleeping positions are totally fine. "Oftentimes you will find a toddler doing 'yoga' overnight and will find them in a 'child's-pose' with buttocks in the air and their bodies tucked under them," says Dr. Vyas. "Other times they will be completely sideways in the bed or even draped over the edge and sometimes turned completely upside down with their heads by the footboard and feet by the headboard." This type of movement is normal and OK, although Dr. Vyas does suggest using guardrails on the bed until your child is about 5 to 7 years old, when sleeping patterns become more adult-like. (This is just to keep them from rolling onto the floor.) Unlike the toddler sleep red flags described in Romper, such as loud breathing or nightmares, these unusual sleeping positions are generally harmless. Definitely contact your pediatrician if anything about your child's sleeping habits seem concerning, but for the most part enjoy your kid's ability to sleep in just about any way they please at night.