Our 3-Month Old Keeps Rolling onto her Tummy at Night. Should we do Anything About This?

I get a lot of questions about newborns/infants and sleeping. While most of them relate to methods and scheduling, here’s a unique question about a 3-month old who insists on rolling onto her tummy:

Hello Dr. Pip…Hope you are well. As you know, Ellison has been/is sleeping 11-12 hours a night since she turned a month old, which is great, and she will be 3 months old on Wednesday 9/3. I have a question: Last night she kept flipping over on her stomach, made a little noise, we flipped her back over, she then flipped again, we flipped her over, and this happened like 5 times. I have now been watching her sleep on the monitor now for a little (6 am, she is sound asleep), on her stomach, and her head is to the side and breathing fine, and she is still sleeping.

Any recommendation/input on this new stage of them sleeping that way? Is that ok at this age, or must we go in everytime?

Thanks in advance!

– Michael

Hi Michael:

It is very common for children to start rolling over and trying to sleep on their stomachs when they are around 4 months old. For this reason, I like to get them out of all sleep aids by 2 months of age (swaddles, Merlin’s Magic Blanket, etc.).

If she is rolling over on her own, there is not much you can do about it. You just want to ensure her sleeping environment is safe. Specifically, make sure there is nothing in the crib that she could suffocate on, such as blankets and stuffed animals.

We obviously want to avoid SIDS, which is why we recommend that infants sleep on their backs. However, once they start rolling over, it’s hard to stop them. You roll them onto their backs and they roll back onto their stomachs – before you even get to the door! Then you turn them on their back again, and they almost immediately roll back onto their stomachs.

If this is the situation you are describing, I would let your daughter stay on her stomach. This is one of the reasons I encourage parents to practice “tummy time” with their newborns. I want them to build their upper body strength so they can roll over if they need to.

However, if you are still nervous, there is a device called the Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor that is helpful. It is essentially a pulse oximeter and will alert you if there is a desaturation in the oxygen levels in her blood.

Thank you for reaching out!

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