why is my baby breathing fast while sleeping

The Benefits and Safety of Baby Sleeping on Tummy on Your Chest: A Comprehensive Guide

Is it safe for a baby to sleep on their tummy on someone’s chest?

Sleeping on the tummy on someone’s chest is generally considered safe for babies, as long as certain precautions are taken. This position can provide a sense of security and closeness for both the baby and the person holding them. It can also promote bonding and help soothe a fussy or colicky baby. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with this sleeping position.

One of the main concerns with this sleeping position is the risk of suffocation or accidental smothering. Babies have limited head control and may not be able to move their head if their airway becomes blocked. This is why it is crucial to ensure that the baby’s face remains uncovered and unobstructed while they are sleeping on someone’s chest.

Potential risks:

  • Suffocation: If the baby’s face becomes pressed against the person’s chest or clothing, it can restrict their breathing.
  • Accidental smothering: There is a risk that the person holding the baby may unintentionally cover their nose or mouth, obstructing their airflow.
  • Heat buildup: Sleeping in close contact with another person can lead to overheating, which increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

Tips for safety:

  • Ensure that the baby’s face remains uncovered at all times by keeping a clear space around their nose and mouth.
  • Avoid using pillows, blankets, or other soft bedding materials that could potentially cover the baby’s face.
  • Make sure both you and the baby are in a comfortable and secure position to minimize the risk of accidental movements that could compromise the baby’s breathing.
  • Keep the room temperature at a comfortable level to prevent overheating.

What are the potential risks associated with a baby sleeping in this position?

Suffocation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Sleeping on the tummy on someone’s chest can increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS for babies. This position can restrict their airways, especially if their face becomes buried in the caregiver’s clothing or bedding. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against placing babies to sleep on their stomachs due to the increased risk of these serious outcomes.

Neck Strain

Sleeping on a caregiver’s chest may also cause strain on a baby’s neck muscles. The weight of their head resting on the caregiver’s chest can lead to discomfort and potential muscle strain over time. It is important to ensure that the baby’s neck is properly supported and not placed in an awkward or strained position while sleeping in this position.


Tips for reducing risks:

– Always place your baby to sleep on their back, as recommended by the AAP.
– Use a firm and flat surface, such as a crib or bassinet, for your baby’s sleep.
– Avoid loose bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, or any other items that could potentially cover your baby’s face.
– Keep the room at a comfortable temperature to prevent overheating.
– Regularly check on your baby while they are sleeping to ensure they are safe and comfortable.

It is crucial to prioritize your baby’s safety during sleep and follow established guidelines to reduce the risk of accidents or harm.

Are there any benefits to having a baby sleep on their tummy on someone’s chest?

While there may be some perceived benefits of having a baby sleep on their tummy on someone’s chest, it is important to weigh them against the potential risks mentioned earlier. Some caregivers believe that this position promotes bonding and helps soothe a fussy baby. The warmth, heartbeat, and gentle movements of the caregiver can provide comfort to the baby.

However, it is essential to note that these benefits can be achieved through other safe sleep practices as well, such as skin-to-skin contact while the baby is lying on their back or being held in a safe position. It is crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of your baby over any perceived benefits of this specific sleeping position.

At what age is it generally considered safe for a baby to sleep on their tummy?


It is generally recommended that babies sleep on their back until they are at least one year old to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This is because sleeping on the tummy increases the risk of suffocation and overheating. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to always place infants on their back for sleep, even during naps.

Tummy Time

However, supervised tummy time is important for babies’ development. Tummy time helps strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles, promotes motor skills, and prevents flat spots on the back of their heads. It is recommended to start tummy time when the baby is awake and alert, usually around 2-3 months old. Gradually increase the duration as the baby becomes more comfortable.

Safe Sleep Environment

When babies reach the age where they can roll over independently from back to tummy and vice versa, usually around 4-6 months old, they may naturally choose different sleeping positions during the night. It’s important to ensure a safe sleep environment by removing any loose bedding or soft objects from the crib and ensuring that there are no hazards nearby.

How can I ensure that my baby is comfortable and secure while sleeping in this position?

Firm Mattress

To ensure your baby’s comfort and safety while sleeping on their tummy, it’s crucial to provide a firm mattress. A firm surface helps prevent suffocation or indentations in which a baby’s face could become trapped.

No Loose Bedding or Pillows

Avoid using loose bedding such as blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals in your baby’s crib when they are sleeping on their tummy. These items can pose a suffocation risk and should be kept out of the sleeping area.

Proper Temperature

Maintaining a comfortable room temperature is important for your baby’s sleep. Make sure the room is not too hot or too cold, as extreme temperatures can disrupt their sleep and increase the risk of SIDS.

Are there any specific precautions or guidelines I should follow when allowing a baby to sleep on their tummy on my chest?


When allowing a baby to sleep on their tummy on your chest, it’s crucial to maintain constant supervision. This position may increase the risk of accidental suffocation if you fall asleep or become unable to support the baby properly.

Avoid Soft Surfaces

Ensure that you are lying on a firm surface when allowing your baby to sleep on their tummy on your chest. Soft surfaces like couches or beds with pillows can increase the risk of suffocation if the baby rolls off your chest.

Safe Positioning

Position your arms securely around the baby to provide support and prevent them from rolling off your chest. Avoid using blankets or pillows that could cover their face while they are in this position.

It’s important to note that while some parents find comfort in having their baby sleep on their chest, it is generally recommended for babies to have their own safe sleeping space, such as a crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper, following safe sleep guidelines.

Can sleeping in this position affect a baby’s breathing or cause suffocation?

When a baby sleeps on their tummy on someone’s chest, there is an increased risk of restricted breathing and suffocation. This position can potentially obstruct the baby’s airway, especially if they are unable to lift their head or move themselves. The pressure from an adult’s chest can also restrict the baby’s ability to breathe properly. Additionally, if the adult were to accidentally roll over during sleep, it could further increase the risk of suffocation for the baby.

To ensure a safe sleeping environment for your baby, it is recommended to follow the guidelines provided by pediatricians and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP advises that babies should always be placed on their back to sleep until they reach one year of age. This position has been proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related incidents.

Risk Factors:

  • Soft bedding or pillows around the baby
  • Baby being placed on an adult’s chest while sleeping
  • Inability of the baby to lift their head or move themselves

Tips for Safe Sleep:

  1. Always place your baby on their back to sleep
  2. Use a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in their crib or bassinet
  3. Avoid placing any soft objects, blankets, or pillows near your baby while they sleep
  4. Create a comfortable and safe sleeping environment by maintaining a moderate room temperature and using appropriate sleepwear for your baby

What alternative sleeping positions are recommended for babies, especially during different stages of development?

As babies grow and develop, their sleeping positions may change. It is important to adapt their sleeping position based on their age and developmental milestones. Here are some alternative sleeping positions recommended for different stages of a baby’s development:

Newborns (0-3 months):

During the first few months, it is safest for newborns to sleep on their back. This helps reduce the risk of SIDS. Place your baby in a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress and avoid using any loose bedding or pillows.

Infants (4-6 months):

Once your baby starts showing signs of rolling over independently, they may naturally prefer to sleep on their side or tummy. In this case, you can continue placing them on their back initially but allow them to find a comfortable position during sleep.

Crawlers (7-12 months):

As babies become more mobile and start crawling, they may move around during sleep. It is still recommended to place them on their back initially, but if they roll onto their side or tummy during the night, it is generally considered safe as long as they have the ability to move freely.

Tips for Safe Sleep Positions:

  • Ensure a firm mattress with a fitted sheet in the crib or bassinet
  • Avoid using loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals until your baby is at least one year old
  • Keep the sleeping area free from hazards such as cords or strings that could pose a strangulation risk
  • Regularly check that your baby’s head remains uncovered during sleep

Are there any specific circumstances where it might be more appropriate or beneficial for a baby to sleep on their tummy on someone’s chest?

While it is generally recommended for babies to sleep on their back in a safe sleeping environment, there may be specific circumstances where allowing a baby to sleep on their tummy on someone’s chest could be considered appropriate or beneficial. These circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare professional and evaluated on an individual basis.

Examples of Specific Circumstances:

  • Babies with certain medical conditions that require close monitoring and positioning
  • Babies who are experiencing severe reflux or gastrointestinal issues that are alleviated by being held upright
  • Babies who have difficulty settling or calming down without close physical contact

Important Considerations:

If you find yourself in a situation where your baby needs to sleep on their tummy on your chest, it is crucial to ensure the following:

  1. Stay awake and alert while your baby is sleeping in this position to monitor their breathing and safety.
  2. Ensure that the adult’s chest is clear of any obstructions that could restrict the baby’s breathing.
  3. Discuss this sleeping arrangement with your healthcare provider to assess the potential risks and benefits specific to your baby’s situation.

How can I gradually transition my baby from sleeping on their tummy on my chest to other sleeping positions?

If you have been allowing your baby to sleep on their tummy on your chest but wish to transition them to other sleeping positions, it is important to do so gradually. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Create a Safe Sleep Environment:

Set up a crib or bassinet with a firm mattress and fitted sheet in your baby’s room. Ensure that the sleeping area is free from any loose bedding, pillows, or stuffed animals that could pose suffocation risks.

2. Start with Naps:

Begin by encouraging your baby to take naps in their crib or bassinet during the day. This will help them become familiar with the new sleeping environment and position.

3. Use Transitional Objects:

Introduce a special blanket or stuffed animal that your baby associates with comfort and security. Place this object in their crib or bassinet to help them feel more at ease during the transition.

Tips for Transitioning:

  • Provide gentle reassurance and comfort to your baby during the transition process
  • Offer soothing techniques such as swaddling, white noise, or gentle rocking to help your baby relax in their new sleeping position
  • Be patient and understanding as it may take time for your baby to adjust to the change

Remember, it is essential to prioritize your baby’s safety and follow recommended sleep guidelines throughout the transition process.

In conclusion, while it may be comforting to have a baby sleeping on your tummy on your chest, it is important to prioritize their safety by following the recommended guidelines for safe sleep practices.

How long can babies lay on their stomach on your chest?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends holding your baby against your skin immediately after birth for up to an hour as it is a significant and beneficial bonding experience. It is still considered safe to continue skin-to-skin contact after this time, with the exception that you must be awake.

What does it mean when a baby falls asleep on your chest?

Infants are naturally inclined to fall asleep while breastfeeding. This behavior is considered normal and is primarily influenced by a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK induces a feeling of fullness and drowsiness in babies, and it is released in their digestive system as soon as they begin sucking.

Why is my baby sleeping on my chest but not in the crib?

If a newborn refuses to sleep in their crib or bassinet, it may be because they have become accustomed to falling asleep in a different location. Some common places where they may fall asleep include being held in your arms, on your partner’s chest, or in a car seat.

Is it OK to let baby sleep on your chest?

While having a baby sleep on mother’s (or father’s) chest whilst parents are awake has not been shown to be a risk, and such close contact is in fact beneficial, sleeping a baby on their front when unsupervised gives rise to a greatly increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) also known as cot death.Dec 11, 2017

What to do when your baby will only sleep on your chest?

One possible reason why your baby might prefer sleeping on your chest is because they are accustomed to the sound of your heartbeat. If the mother is the one holding the baby, they have been sleeping with the sound of her heartbeat for many months. Therefore, using a white noise machine that produces a heartbeat sound might be beneficial. While it may not be a guaranteed solution, it could provide some assistance.

Should I let baby sleep on me?

It is considered safe to have your baby sleep on you as long as you are awake, according to Dubief.

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