01 September 2010
It is a commonly held belief in this country that the safest sleeping position for babies is laying the baby on its stomach while positioning the head on the side. This way, when the baby regurgitates, as babies are wont to do, it is believed that it will not choke. “This is a safe sleeping position,” Dr. John Mary Sseremba of Luwum Street Clinic agrees. However, websites like www.righthealth.com, www.netdoctor.co.uk and www. safekids.co.uk/Safesleepingfor babies point to research that has been done showing that a baby sleeping on its stomach is unsafe. According to these websites, research shows that when a healthy baby is put to sleep on their stomach, the baby is put at a risk of suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or cot death.Putting a baby to sleep on their stomach is considered dangerous because it results in the baby breathing the same air since they are too close to the beddings as opposed to being out in the open air. This implies that they do not get enough oxygen, which could cause death. If the baby sleeps on a mattress that is too soft and yielding, it is put at a risk of suffocating.There is also the possibility that the microbes on the mattress could interfere with the baby’s breathing if it sleeps on its stomach.As a result, health experts advise that healthy babies sleep on their backs. Fears of the baby chocking on vomit or regurgitated food are allayed by the experts when they point out that a baby can turn its head when it vomits so that it does not choke.A Ugandan mother will perhaps point out that when the baby sleeps on its stomach with the head on the side, then they are not too near the beddings and thus the baby is not at a risk of either suffocation or having their breath interrupted by as many microbes as would have been the case if the baby slept with their face pressing against the mattress. Sleeping positions for babies is a contentious matter but as some websites pointed out, cot deaths in some countries have been reduced through putting babies to sleep on their backs.Dr. Sseremba cites another safe sleeping position: putting the baby to sleep on its side with one arm under. It should be noted that the research that advised that it was best for the babies to sleep on their backs point out that when a baby is sick, it is best to ask a doctor for the best sleeping position for this baby.Whichever sleeping position you decide for your baby, these are some of the things that should be done so to ensure safe sleeping. The mattress should be firm; no toys should be placed in the bed, the mattress should not be covered with loose plastic sheets as these can cause suffocation, the baby’s covers, preferably bed sheets and a blanket as opposed to a duvet, are brought only halfway up to the cot, the baby’s head is left uncovered; as it sleeps it uses the head to regulate temperature and no adult pillows should be used in the cot.