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Side or tummy sleeping: is it safe for my baby?

You’re cheering her on during tummy time, camera in hand, waiting for her to complete that first roll. But what happens next? Is it safe for your baby to be flipping in her sleep like a little acrobat? Be prepared with everything you need to know about when your baby wants to sleep on their side.

In This Article

What’s happening?

Is it Normal?

How to be ready?

Common Questions from New Parents

newborn sleeping on side

What’s happening?

At 4 to 6 months old, putting your baby to sleep will hit an exciting new milestone: that first roll. Chances are, she’ll want to practice her new skills at bedtime and naptime, which can make settling more difficult, which can impact your baby’s sleep routine. And once they do nod off, you may find baby stomach sleeping .

Baby Sleeping On Side - Is it normal?

Side sleeping is a completely normal sleeping position for baby - but more than a little nerve-wracking for mom and dad.

Until your baby has mastered a complete roll, the sleeping position should be sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Babies who can roll independently can start safely tummy or side sleeping.

What to expect—and how to be ready

Baby Rolls - Learning to roll over

Babies can show signs of rolling over as early as 3 months old or as late as 7 months old. Once your little one begins this new trick, she’ll want to try it all the time and it can lead to increases the risks.

How to be ready: Once rolling starts, swaddling stops. So at first signs of rolling, you’ll want to start transitioning her out of the swaddle into a sack. The Zen Sack™ is reversible and gently weighted to help babies sleep longer, making the transition seamless.

Babies sleep - Baby rolls to side or stomach during sleep

You know back is best, but while your baby is still learning to roll or already an independent roller, you should follow safe sleep practices to reduce the risk of SIDS and keep things safe when your baby sleeps.

How to be ready: Brush up on the ABC’s of safe sleep:

  • Alone
  • Back-sleeping
  • Crib or bassinet

Becoming a tummy sleeper

Once she’s an independent roller, your baby might prefer to sleep on her side or stomach sleeping all the time. other than back sleeping.

Bottom line: It’s still safest to lay baby down on their back for nap time and bedtime. Putting your little one to bed on their stomach isn’t safe at any time in the first year of life — and placing them in a side-sleeping position is unfortunately a quick way to get to the stomach. Tummy time is for when your baby is wide awake and ready to exercise with you. - Heathline

If during the baby's sleep they can roll from back to tummy and back again on her own, it’s safe to leave baby sleeping.

How to be ready: Make sure you’re keeping the crib clear so she doesn’t roll into or onto anything. Always dress her in a reversible, gently weighted Zen Sack™ so she can roll to her heart’s content.

Your Safe Sleep Checklist: tummy sleeper edition 

Tummy sleeper edition
baby sleeping on side schedule

New mom sleep hacks you’ll love

Michelle was getting nervous as her daughter was learning to roll over and moving around a lot in her sleep.

The Zen Sack™ gave her daughter some added comfort, so she spent more time staying on her back and Michelle spent less time worrying.


Other Resources

Healthychildren.Org: Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play

American Academy of Pediatrics: Practice Tummy Time


Commonly asked questions about tummy sleeping

You might also like...

ABC's of safe sleep

4-Step Swaddle Transition Plan

When can I stop worrying about SIDS?

4 month sleep regression 

Sleep Training Guide: How to sleep train

Ask the Experts: Co-sleeping 

Christina Alario

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  • Hi there we have the Zen sack. My daughter starts each night on her back but eventually rolls to her tummy and side. How would be the best way to use this sack? Is it safe to put it on her front ways if she rolls over?

    Aili Lehrfeld on

  • My baby was such a great sleeper the first 2 months. But once he turned 3 & 4 months old, he was waking every 2-3 hrs, if not sooner. I tried every sleep sack imaginable. I came across the zen sack and was so hesitant about ordering it. I read all the reviews & just knew that I wouldn’t get the same results. Day 2 of the zen sack & he slept NINE straight HOURS. I was so amazed. Now I can’t even imagine him sleeping without it. However, I do believe that the zen sack along with sleep training is what helped him so much! I’ll definitely be ordering another one!!!

    Torrie on

  • It’s been 5 days and my baby’s sleeping has improved so much! Last night he went down at 7pm and didn’t wake up until 5am! Before he was waking several times during the night. So glad I decided to try this!

    Shannon Ziegelmeier on

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