Sleeping babies are mysterious, magical, adorable creatures. When your baby finally falls asleep, you could stare at them for hours, but let's be real — you have stuff to do. However, you may notice some pretty funny habits your baby develops as they gain movement in their crib. Many babies start sleeping bottom up, knees tucked under their bodies. It's really cute and pretty hysterical, but why do babies sleep with their butt in the air? To be fair, you can't imagine even getting into that position, let alone falling asleep head down and on your knees.
It turns out there are several reasons science has posited to explain why babies sleep in child's pose. That frog-like position may be due to the way they were positioned in the womb, noted Richard Polin, MD, director of the division of neonatology at Columbia University in an interview with Parents. As your baby gets older and moves about more, their bodies fall into positions that allow them that freedom, according to the European Journal of Applied Psychology.
Think about it. The child's pose is remarkably similar to the position they assume both as they're learning to crawl and after they begin crawling. Many babies, including my own, get into that position and rock back and forth for a long time before they even begin to crawl.
Unfortunately, you may notice that if your child has taken to sleeping in this position, they might not be sleeping as well as they had previously, even going so far as experiencing a sleep regression. According to Baby Sleep Science, it might simply be that your baby has learned to sit on their own and falls into that position, and once they're in it, they're either happy to stay in that position as they sleep, or they get uncomfortable and require adjustments.
When my son, who is now 10 years old, began to sit independently, before he could even rock on his hands and knees, he would simply flop into child's pose. Somehow, he was able to wiggle just enough that he could pull his feet from under his body. It quickly became his favorite sleeping position. In the beginning, I would freak out. After all, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents that your baby must always be placed to sleep on their backs to minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). I'd go to his crib every few hours and switch him around. Thankfully, this didn't really wake him, but it was also completely fruitless, as his butt was back in the air faster than you can say, "The joke's on you, Mama."
The funny thing is that it appears as though the back to sleep campaign may have unknowingly set in motion this wave of babies who sleep tush up. According to the European Journal of Applied Psychology, babies who were put to sleep on their backs early and often, and also provided with adequate tummy time during the day, develop the motor skills needed for rolling and crawling earlier in their infancy than babies who aren't. That is to say that they're crawling earlier because they were placed on their back, and babies who crawl or sit tend to fall asleep in child's position, as per The Baby Sleep Site.
Babies like to be tucked up as they are in the womb, noted Dr Harvey Karp of The Happiest Baby on The Block. That's why swaddling is so effective. When babies realize they can mimic this themselves, either by happenstance of crawling or rolling over, of course they'll want to hang out in that position. For my children, this was a long phase. It wasn't until they were well into their toddlerhood. In fact, I just found my 10-year-old like this last night.
Babies are hilarious, and baby bottoms in the air are even funnier. Thankfully, the AAP wrote that after babies can get themselves into these situations, you don't have to rush to move them, and I wouldn't try. I would however, take many, many pictures.
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