Few things are filled with more tension than the first months with your newborn, especially if you are a first-time parent. Trying to find a new rhythm and routine with sleeping, feeding, bathing, and everything in between can be stressful for anyone. This doesn't even include the pressure to make sure you're doing everything that people tell you you're "supposed" to do, like tummy time or baby-wearing. But beyond all of the typical chaos, every parent is concerned about their newborn's safety, particularly in regards to SIDS. For instance, is it safe for newborns to sleep on their sides? Lord knows I woke up every half hour to make sure my 2-week-old son was still breathing, and I'm sure many other parents have done the same.
Though it may seem like a bizarre thing to worry about to some, parents know just how devastatingly real it can be. The fears aren't relegated to just nighttime sleeping, either. Plenty of parents, myself included, have wondered if SIDS can occur during the daytime, too. So any little bit of information or advice that can help keep their newborn safe and healthy while they sleep will undoubtedly calm parents and puts their minds at ease.
Most parents already know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated that placing an infant to sleep on their stomach increases the risk of SIDS, but does that also include side-sleeping? According to Healthy Children, an informational site from the AAP, "because babies sleeping on their sides are more likely to accidentally roll onto their stomach, the side position is just as dangerous as the stomach position."
In short, it is not recommended for newborns to sleep on their sides. However, don't freak out if you've ever found your little one has changed sleeping positions on you and they aren't on their back anymore. As the Safe & Healthy Children's Coalition noted, "if your baby rolled from their back to their side on their own, they can be left in that position if they are able to roll from tummy to back and back to tummy." Still be cautious, though, because all babies are different and it can take a while for infants to master the art of tummy time and rolling over. As always, if you have any concerns or questions about your child's sleeping habits and safety, consult a physician.