babies need to sleep on their back

Back to Sleep is the Only Way for Infants

Dear Mr. Dad: Our baby boy was born just a month ago and, although we were told at the hospital to put him down to sleep on his back, my wife says that it’s safer for him on his tummy because it will keep him from choking. Who’s right? Please help.

A: You are. In their first year, babies should go to sleep on their back, period.

In 1994, after looking at a huge amount of research on sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) that identified tummy sleeping as a major risk factor, the government (along with the American Academy of Pediatrics) launched the “Back to Sleep” campaign. The SIDS rate immediately dropped by more than 50%. I remember exactly when this happened, because my two older kids were born in 1990 and ’93 and I felt fortunate that they survived.

Sadly, your wife is far from alone in wanting to put your baby to sleep on his tummy. A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that while 77% of mothers “usually” put their babies on their back to sleep, only about 47% said that they “always” do. African-American moms and those who didn’t finish high school were the most likely to put their babies face down. I’m puzzled (okay, actually offended) that this study completely excluded fathers.

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Armin Brott

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Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.

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