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What If Baby Looks Uncomfortable

I know that I am potentially biased but the sight of a sleeping baby is the most calming and comforting image in the world.

It is how tranquil they look, how warm and cozy they are all snuggled up, the way they hold their arms by their sides, the way their breathing is so shallow, the stillness of it all and the way it just defines the word ‘restful’.

Or at least that’s what it looks like in the cute photos and social media posts.

However, if your Little Darling has started to roll over and can now move more freely around the cot, you have probably very well noticed that they tend to get themselves into some rather funny and uncomfortable looking positions.

I think they get themselves in positions that a professional gymnast wouldn’t even be able to manage. Yet, they seem to sleep like that. I know it is sometimes very funny but it can be a safety concern sometimes. It can also be very frustrating if you know that they are clearly going to wake up uncomfortable and needing your help.

If you have read some of my other blogs then you will know that the key to sleeping through the night is teaching them independent sleep skills that don’t require you to intervene or help. I am asked very frequently what to do if the baby has taken to sleeping in an uncomfortable position. Parents don’t tend to want to wake up their baby by moving them but they don’t want to leave them in an uncomfortable position either.

The answer to this conundrum is not as simple as a yes or no in terms of moving baby.

Sometimes in parenting, you have got to do what you have got to do and it is as simple as that.

If baby has only half mastered the art of rolling and they get stuck or it is unsafe then there is only one option, you need to go and flip them back over.

Every. Single. Time. At least until they’ve figured out how to flip over on their own.

Will that delay their ability to develop their independent sleep skills? Will they wake up grizzly and fussy before going back to sleep? It could but if baby’s face down on the mattress and can’t roll themselves over, you’ve got to intervene, no matter what.

The great news is that this is usually just an issue for a short period of time.

Babies tend to learn how to roll from front-to-back fairly quickly after they’ve learned the back-to-front maneuver, so you don’t need to worry about months of late night adjustments. Spend some time during the day practicing the roll-over and you should see them get the hang of it within a week or two.

If your Little Darling finds themselves in a position where one of their limbs is actually poking through the cot then they could potentially get stuck or even twisted which could lead to them hurting themselves. Again, in this situation, I recommend that you bite the bullet and move them. Do it as quickly and quietly as you can, if they wake don’t engage with them.

The next scenario is that you baby can roll, has not gotten a limb stuck but has just pushed themselves into the side of the cot which just looks very uncomfortable. Do you in this situation go in and move them?

I would say more than likely not for this. Babies tend to get themselves into some awkward positions and as long as their airway isn’t being obstructed, (i.e., head tilted forward, nose and mouth in contact with the mattress) then it's probably best to just let them sleep.

I know it can be a little concerning to see them with their knees practically tucked under their chin, but if they’re uncomfortable, they’ll most likely wake up and rearrange themselves. There’s not usually a need for a parent to intervene.

Remember, safety first, always! But talk to your doctor or midwife about safe sleep positions so you make informed decisions about when you should and shouldn’t move them around in their cot. More often than not, if they’re sleeping peacefully, they’re doing just fine, no matter how awkward they might look in the process.


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