There are two main myths about SUDI that cause some parents to avoid the safety advice.
One myth is that there is more risk from choking if a baby sleeps on their back. This is not true. Babies gag and swallow in all sleeping positions. It is a reflex to protect their breathing.
The windpipe is above the food tube when babies lie on their back. In this position, the gagging reflexes are stronger and it’s easier for babies to keep their airways safe.
To sleep your baby on their side is false protection. It doubles the SUDI risk and babies can turn onto their front, where the risks are six times higher.
The second myth is that sleeping on the back causes flat heads. This is not true either. Babies’ heads change shape due to pressure on a soft skull when the head rests on the same spot. This can happen in all sleep positions because babies have heavy heads and sleep a lot.
You can avoid a flat head by varying the resting spot of the head and having plenty of upright time and tummy time when your baby is awake. Tummy time in the first 6 weeks can be time across your knee after feeding. Check that your baby can turn their head easily to look both ways when lying flat.
It’s false protection to avoid putting babies to sleep on their back as a way to prevent flat heads.