Is Your Baby A Side Sleeper? Is This Normal Behavior?

As an adult, you probably have your sleeping position preferences. Some people sleep on their backs, others on their bellies, and some on their sides. Side sleeping feels great, especially if you have someone to cuddle at night. Everyone is different, and how you sleep is your prerogative.

An infant wearing a crocheted beanie while napping peacefully

But what about babies? At that age, sleep safety is a top concern among parents. For instance, is it safe for your baby to sleep on their back? While they still may develop a preference, sometimes, the way the baby lies can put your baby at risk. Sleep-related infant deaths can be avoided. The way a baby lies can either increase or decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, SIDS. When your baby is young, back-sleeping is the safest way to reduce the risk of SIDS. So what happens when your baby refuses to do so? Is it okay, and if not, how can you keep your baby in that position while asleep? Many parents don’t like waking babies from naps, but is it really necessary to wake them if they move or roll over? Let’s find out and look at tips to keep your infant safe at night.

Side Sleeping Babies

As a parent, you know that letting an infant sleep belly down is bad while letting them back-sleep is good. So what happens when it’s a little bit in-between? Is it a gray area, or is it worth stopping? What do you do if you find your little one starts to roll to the side at an early age? You know you need to place your child on their back when you put them down for a nap. But, once they fall asleep, there’s a chance that they’ll move to other positions. Then what?

While the side position itself is not necessarily bad, it can mean that your baby is more likely to roll onto the belly. And that’s not good, especially with a baby as young as three months. Stomach sleeping increases the risk of SIDS in infants. Side sleeping may also cause other problems, including choking, plagiocephaly (flat head), torticollis, and more. Because of all these risks, it is much safer to find ways to stop your baby from rolling over during the night.

Around that age, babies aren’t yet able to roll independently. An older baby who can do so can just roll over to their back if a certain position is uncomfortable. But a young baby cannot do that and risks the chance of a position that can kill them. Sudden infant death syndrome is a real thing and not something that anyone should have to deal with if it can be helped. And while we said that side sleeping isn’t known to cause SIDS, it is known to result in babies taking a stomach sleeping position eventually, and that does increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Some medical conditions make a baby need to side-sleep, but otherwise, don’t risk it. If you feel there is cause for concern, have your child medically reviewed by a professional to see if there is a reason your baby needs to sleep in that position. If your baby keeps rolling over, make sure they are staying on their back as this is the safest position. It is not healthy to have babies asleep on their side if they’re not able to comfortably roll back over. It’s usually pretty easy to roll a baby onto their back without even waking them up.


Is There A Way To Prevent Side Sleepers?

Sometimes, babies get into that sleep position on their own, and you may wonder how you can avoid it. Putting the baby on their back is the best move, but what happens when they keep turning to over? You might find yourself thinking, shouldn’t I just leave my baby alone? No, you shouldn’t. Side sleeping at this age needs to be avoided. Here are things that you can do.


Swaddling is when you wrap a baby in a swaddle, and it mimics the feeling of being in the womb. It’s tight enough to prevent the baby from moving but loose enough, so it isn’t uncomfortable. Swaddling is worth trying if you have a baby who is always moving around. Until your baby reaches an age when he or she is old enough to roll around independently, it’s worth trying. You can swaddle your baby with a blanket or with a sleep sack that comes with a Velcro swaddle piece to go over the top. As the baby gets a little older, you can continue to use the sleep sack as a wearable blanket.

Some babies prefer to sleep on their side. They may resist swaddling until they get used to it. However, with time, your baby will learn to love it, and they will love every bit of it. In this way, babies won’t engage in it since it is not healthy to let 3-month-olds sleep in that position.


When A Baby Starts To Roll

At around 3-4 months, a healthy baby starts learning to roll, and that’s when side or stomach sleeping occurs. When your baby is awake, teaching them to roll is a good thing, and it helps them grow their muscles. However, when they’re asleep, this is when it’s a problem. They may not be strong enough to roll back. The baby’s head is too heavy for them to lift and hold up for very long. That’s one of the reasons rolling over is so tough for infants. It starts to become a bit safer to let the baby sleep on one side once the baby’s head is under better control. But even then, make sure your baby doesn’t stay in one position or face the same way all the time.

Keep them swaddled until then so they can sleep on their back. When it comes to the crib, clear it of any stuffed toys or any objects, and make sure there are no loose bedding like sheets or pillows the baby could become entangled with. Your crib should be clear of anything and have nothing fancy in it. When your baby can roll around, it’s usually safe to let them sleep on their sides. Whatever your baby sleeps in, crib or bassinet, there shouldn’t be anything in their bed with them, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, not even stuffed animals or sleep positioners. A firm crib mattress is also recommended.

It can be frustrating. You can empathize with your baby. You may sleep on your side and have a harder time sleeping on your back, but preventing your baby from side sleeping until they’re old enough to do so is the best way to prevent SIDS. SIDS is no laughing matter; it can strike suddenly, as per its name. While all of the exact causes are unknown, letting a baby sleep on his/her stomach is one reason why SIDS can happen. We know that babies who sleep on their backs in crib or bassinet beds are less likely to experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Allowing the baby who is too young to continue to sleep in that position can turn out badly so place your baby on their back to keep your baby safe at night.

When Does A Baby Master Rolling Over?

Rolling over is the stage that precedes crawling. When the baby rolls, it can be able to move around, and it’s when the baby can sleep well. On average, the baby rolls over between 5-6 months and masters it one month or so later. There are a couple of early birds and some late bloomers in the field of rolling, so don’t think that it’s a big deal if your baby rolls over later or earlier in life. It won’t affect their development. You don’t need to have your child medically reviewed unless they’re getting closer to 1 year or so and still haven’t made this milestone.

Tummy Time Helps

One way to teach your baby how to roll over sooner is through tummy time. This is when you put your baby on their tummy during playtime for a few minutes, increasing as the baby gets older. This builds up your baby’s muscles, and it’s a good idea for any baby of any age. It’s something worth trying as soon as your baby is born. Although at the newborn stage, the baby can’t be on their tummy for too long because of the baby’s head position. Usually, it’s just a few minutes, and then they can grow later on with time. The baby’s head is very heavy for them so they have to work on developing the muscles in their necks and cores so they can hold their head up. When putting babies on their tummy, make sure that you stay right there with them in case they get into trouble and need your help.


It Takes Time

The takeaway is that it takes a while for babies to master rolling, and a side-sleeping position must be avoided. They may roll to their stomach but be unable to roll back. With time, your baby can comfortably roll over, and they can sleep however they want to. When your baby is rolling both ways, that’s a great thing, and it’s something that you can be proud of. Your baby grows quickly, and watching them learn simple things like rolling feels so good. Understand that it isn’t a bad thing once your little one is big enough to go from side sleep to stomach sleep, back to side sleep and on over to back sleeping all on their own. Your baby’s sleep positions are about so much more than just comfort. Side sleeping too early could ultimately cost your baby’s life, so stick to the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on safe baby sleep positions to ensure the health of your baby.


Babies Sleeping On Their Side Conclusion

Your baby should not sleep on their side when they are three months of age. While the position itself won’t hurt them, it risks them rolling onto their stomach, where the risk of SIDS goes up. If you find them asleep on their side, gently roll them onto their back again. Always remember that it is not safe for three-month-old to be asleep in any other position than on their back. Swaddling the baby until they’re big enough to roll independently may be a good move. With that said, you should still check up on your baby when they’re asleep to make sure that they didn’t break out of the position when they are asleep. If you’re feeling very concerned for your child’s safety because of side sleeping, you can call your pediatrician and have your baby medically reviewed. You’ll get to have all of your questions answered about side sleeping so you can feel more at peace when your baby is asleep.

Babies Sleeping On Their Side FAQs

Is It Okay For A Baby To Sleep On Its Side?

Babies should be put to sleep lying on their back, not their stomach or sides, because that is the safest position for them. It is not normal for a three-month-old to sleep on their side or stomach. Children who have been medically reviewed and found to sleep on their sides are at a higher risk for SIDS.

Can 7-Month-Old Babies Side-Sleep?

It is excellent for the baby to remain in the sleep position they choose if they roll over from front to back. If your 7-month-old is able to roll from back to tummy and tummy to back without your help, then side-lying should be just fine.


At What Age Can Babies And Toddlers Stomach Sleep?

Most babies can sleep on their stomachs between 4 and 6 months, in some cases. However, it’s best if they are closer to 9 months or so before they really start tummy sleeping.

How Do I Stop My Baby Sleeping On His Side?

Newborns stay in the same position when they nap. It is not safe for three-month-olds to sleep on their side. The best way to prevent your baby is to lay them on their back. You can also try swaddling too. Many parents also recommend that you lay baby on a firm sleep surface in a safe infant sleeping environment.

Should I Stop Swaddling When My Baby Starts Rolling Over?

Swaddling is a calming routine for your baby. However, you need to stop swaddling once the baby reaches the developmental milestone of rolling over. A swaddled baby will have a hard time rolling back over, which could result in harm.

Should I Roll My Baby Back Over At Night?

Babies start rolling over by themselves when they are around 4 to 6 months of age. It is a natural part of a baby’s growth process, so you need not worry. If they are rolling and side-sleeping before that though, you should move them to a safer position.

Is Side-Lying Breastfeeding Safe?

The side-lying position in breastfeeding is a good choice when you don’t want to sit up at night. But you should remember that it’s important to note that bed-sharing can be dangerous. Medically reviewed cases of co-sleeping situations have been determined to be unsafe.

Should Newborns Sleep On An Incline?

Experts and professionals warn parents never to allow a baby to sleep in rockers, car seats, as well as other products that hold an infant at an incline position. Medically reviewed cases have revealed that it can cut off the baby’s airflow resulting in death.

Can I Let My 6-Month-Old Sleep On His Stomach?

Yes, it’s okay to leave your baby in that position. Because by the time your child can do this, the risk of SIDS is much lower.


Do Babies Sleep Better On Their Stomachs?

Though it is pretty much common, a lot of experts urge parents to put a baby to bed on his/her back and never on his/her belly. After many medically reviewed cases of SIDS, it’s been determined that young babies who back-sleep are much safer.

What Does It Mean If My Baby Sleeps On Its Side?

Why Won’t My Baby Sleep On His Back?

What Is The Best Napping Position For Babies With Gas?

Why Does My Newborn Keep Rolling Over?

Why Does My Child Keep Rolling Over And Waking Up?

Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Rejie Salazar

DISCLAIMER (IMPORTANT): This information (including all text, images, audio, or other formats on is not intended to be a substitute for informed professional advice, diagnosis, endorsement or treatment. You should not take any action or avoid taking action without consulting a qualified professional.   Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about medical conditions. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here a

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