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Pediatrics/Baby turning over at night and sleeping with nose in mattress


My baby is 5 months old and has been able to flip from back to stomach for over a month now.  Only this week has she started being able to flip from stomach to back as well.

Since she started being able to turn onto her stomach, she always flips onto her stomach within moments of me putting her on her back to sleep.  For a while, I would wait until she fell asleep and turn her back over.  For the last few weeks, when I turn her back over, she flips back onto her stomach right away (seems to be an impulse as she does it even when asleep) so it is impossible to get her to sleep on her back.

I know stomach sleeping has higher SIDS risks, but what concerns me more is that she will often sleep with her nose against the mattress.  I'll turn her head so that her nose is clear, and within moments she will often adjust her head and put her nose facing into the mattress.  She often rests her arm under the back of her head and this tilts her nose right down into the mattress.

I find I am getting little sleep as I am watching to make sure she is breathing and I am turning her head frequently.

Her mattress if firm with just a fitted sheet and nothing else in the bed, I have a fan in her room and follow all the other SIDS guidelines, but I still worry with her nose planted in the mattress.  

What should I do about this? She has head control and can roll, but I don't understand why she wants to sleep with her nose in the mattress and how to get her to stop.  I worry about a build up of carbon dioxide as the air can't be fresh.

Hi, Lisa,

Your concern and question is a common one in my practice.

When babies reach the point that they are strong enough to flip back and forth, the sleep position guidelines really have little relevance.  She will have the ability to move around to adjust for any increased carbon dioxide.  

I have had worried parents who tell me they are constantly turning their babies over at this age, often many times a night.  No reason to do this.  

She will turn her head if she needs to.  

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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