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My daughter is usually comfortable only when held up, after 30 minutes of leaving her on the crib (with much luck) she starts crying and she never gets fully calm by her own, except when sleeping on her belly. If we lay her down looking up she wakes up after an hour, best case scenario, but she can easily sleep 4 or 5 hours facing down.

I know downward sleeping is not safe for a child her age, but I wonder if she is next to me and I'm working or watching a movie would that also be a problem? What would be the alternative to get her to sleep facing up for longer stretches?

  • It's probably worth thinking about why her sleep is not good when on her back and then seeing if you can do anything about that. From your description, it sounds like she might have silent reflux. – stuart10 Sep 21 at 15:43
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Research has found that babies this young being in deep sleep is actually more dangerous and may contribute to SIDS. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513387/) So its actually safer for her to not sleep too deeply.

To encourage her to sleep better on her back though, you can try swaddling her. Some babies like their arms up instead of down as they'll be in a traditional swaddle. You can look at zipped swaddles that let babies sleep with their arms up, yet have their torsos wrapped tight and cozy.

My personal favorite is the LoveToDream swaddle. Babies are also able to bring their hands to their mouth for soothing themselves.

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  • +1 for dispelling the myth that long, deep sleep always means good sleep. – Pam Sep 18 at 10:01
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    I'm not sure that your linked article says quite what you say it says. It seems to me to say that both REM and deep sleep present "challenges" to a sleeping infant's breathing. It doesn't seem to characterize one as "more dangerous" than the other, nor does it seem to say "less deep sleep" is safer. As a layperson I could imagine that the importance of arousal from sleep as a safety mechanism would mean deep sleep would be harder to arouse from, but in the article you linked they seem more concerned with certain infants' difficulty in arousing from REM sleep instead. – Dan Getz Sep 18 at 14:08
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I'm not going to address the wider question, but you are not going to notice if your baby stops breathing unless you are actively watching their chest move, and possibly not even then. Here is one harrowing account from a father who's son died in his lap while he did email.

Staring at your baby's chest for hours on end is unlikely to work either: studies have found that people who monitor CCTV for crime can't actually pay attention for more than about 20 minutes before their minds wander. You might be a bit more motivated than a minimum-wage security person, but it doesn't get around the fact that human brains aren't set up to do this.

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    "Here is one harrowing account from a father who's son died in his lap while he did email." Did he ever get to do the Big Data exploration of the causes of SIDS that he proposed in that article from 2002? Putting his name into Google Scholar doesn't show him as the author of any scientific papers. – nick012000 Sep 17 at 2:56
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    @nick012000 No. Bob Cringely (real name Mark Stephens) is a tech journalist with a somewhat chequered history. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_X._Cringely – Paul Johnson Sep 17 at 8:53
  • I don't know about the linked account, but this happened to someone I know. They were on the sofa watching TV, their child sleeping on them... and just didn't wake up :(. Please don't think this can't happen, because you've only seen evidence of it once. – djsmiley2kStaysInside Sep 17 at 11:08
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On the assumption that through the other answers you've accepted belly-sleeping to be a bad idea, you'll be looking for alternatives. My kids slept really well in "cocoonababy" sleep nests. These days "sleep nests" are everywhere, but most of them are flat with a soft surround. The ones we had were shaped so that the baby doesn't have to completely flatten their body to be fully supported.

I believe this idea was developed in French maternity hospitals - the thinking being that a baby has been curled up since it was 3 cells big, and so asking it to suddenly lie completely flat is a bit much for them to take (although I can't corroborate any of that).

There are no pillows, and a baby can't roll out of these nests (even when getting a bit too big for them) - I'm by no means an expert, but they looked pretty safe to me. That said, they weren't on the "explicitly allowed" list when we used them. Things may have changed, but back then there was no maternity nurse or post-natal health care worker that would ever have happily agreed to their use, much less recommended them (the advice was always "lie on their back on a flat mattress"). You should evaluate carefully for yourself, as noted in other answers, issues during sleep can be serious and hard to spot.

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