You will spend a fair amount of time trying to find ways to make your baby comfortable. Since it’s best to put your baby on his back to sleep, you might think he would love that position. However, many babies hate it.
Why does my baby not like lying flat? Lying flat on their back is a new sensation for babies, and many have a hard time adjusting to the strange feeling. Some babies have health issues that make being on their backs painful, and some do not like being left alone. Others simply don’t want to be put down or prefer to sleep on their sides.
From reflux to separation issues, your baby could hate resting on his back for a lot of reasons. Whatever the reason, figuring it out will help you discover how you can help your baby get comfortable.
Baby Uncomfortable on Back: 6 Reasons Why
When people use the term sleep like a baby; you might imagine that it is a deep, peaceful sleep. However, most parents learn when they put their babies on their backs to sleep, it’s anything but peaceful.
1. May Be Uncomfortable Due to Reflux
If your child struggles with reflux, being on his back can make the situation even more uncomfortable.
Until the muscle that keeps your child’s food in his stomach matures, it’s normal for reflux to occur in babies. However, some babies find it very uncomfortable, especially when they are on their backs.
2. May Exacerbate Colic Symptoms
Babies who have colic cry a lot without any obvious reason. They may sound like they are in pain, and putting them down on their own to sleep will not make them react better.
Babies with colic are hard to soothe even when you are holding them, so being alone on their backs can make their screams increase a notch.
3. May Prefer To Be Held in Your Arms
A baby’s favorite place to rest will likely be in your arms. Babies are used to the smell of their parents, and being held releases feel-good hormones that keep babies calm.
When you put your baby down to sleep, it’s normal for them to cry to be held.
4. May Fear Being Left Alone
Your child has never really been alone before. He listened to your heartbeat and your voice and was contained in a tight vessel that carried him to birth.
Being alone in a crib is a completely different experience, and many babies don’t find it to be a pleasant one. This can make them cry from fear.
5. Strange Sensation Compared To Being in the Womb
Being in the womb means being in a small, warm space with sounds and sensations coming from every direction. Your baby is curled up and growing in a place where he feels safe.
Entering the world is a shock, and being put down to sleep without being surrounded by something is another huge change.
Many babies want that womb experience even when they enter the outside world. Fortunately, there are products on the market, like swaddling blankets and sleep sacks, to at least make your baby feel like they are wrapped up tight.
6. May Prefer Being on Their Side
Some babies want to be on their side to sleep. They find this to be a more comfortable position, but it’s not safe for your child to sleep on his side or stomach until he can fully roll over on his own.
Most babies can’t do this for at least the first six months of life.
Best Sleeping Position for Newborn
There is no dispute: the best sleeping position for a newborn is on his back. Putting your newborn to sleep on his back reduces the risk of SIDS, so it’s worth the effort even if your child doesn’t love it.
Should Babies Sleep on Their Stomach?
Babies should not sleep on their stomachs. Even if your baby hates sleeping on his back, you should not put a baby to sleep on his stomach because it increases the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
How To Help Baby Be More Comfortable Flat on Their Back
Though your baby may not love sleeping on his back, there are ways you can make it more comfortable for him.
My babies loved swaddle blankets because they gave them that womb-like feel while still keeping them on their backs.
Swaddling helps babies feel warm and held while still giving you the opportunity to put them down in the crib. (These soft, adjustable swaddle wraps make it easy!)
If your child suffers from reflux, make sure you are burping your child and keeping him upright for a bit after each meal. Putting your child directly on his back to sleep after a meal can make reflux worse and make your baby hate sleep time.
You can also give your child a pacifier so he can self-soothe when he gets uncomfortable. Pacifier use during sleep time can also reduce the risk of SIDS.
How Long Should Babies Sleep on Their Back?
Your baby should sleep on his back until he can fully roll over on his own. This is usually at least the first six months of life.
It’s recommended you put your child to sleep on their back for the first year of life, but some kids roll over independently from front to back long before the one-year mark.
Ask your pediatrician if you are not sure what position is best at a certain age.
Why Do Babies Sleep in Frog Position?
If you find your baby’s favorite way to sleep is on his stomach with his legs pulled up, it’s probably because it reminds him of the womb.
This popular frog position gives many parents grief when they are trying to keep their little ones on their backs.
My oldest also liked to sleep this way because she was breech in the womb and her legs did not extend easily for weeks after birth. Swaddling was our fix for it.
Your baby needs to sleep on his back for many months after birth, but that doesn’t mean he’ll like it. Use the helpful tips given above to make sleeping on their back easier for your little one.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.