A look at the reasons why babies love sleeping on their parents’ chests and what you can do if your baby only falls asleep in this position.
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The first few weeks with a newborn baby can be very exhausting for new parents. You may feel like you are never going to get a good night’s sleep again. And a lot of parents are tempted to do chest sleeping with their baby because it is the only way they can get some rest.
But what is it about this position that makes babies so content? Skin-to-skin contact, familiarity, and security are just a few reasons. But If you find that your baby only falls asleep on your chest, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. Keep reading to learn more!
The Power of Skin to Skin Contact
Having your baby on your chest for prolonged periods of time allows for skin-to-skin contact. This type of contact has been shown to have a plethora of short and long-term benefits for both babies and parents.
For babies, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to help regulate their heart rate and breathing. It can also help them to maintain a more stable body temperature. And research has shown that babies who have skin-to-skin contact are more likely to breastfeed successfully.
For parents, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to help reduce stress levels. It can also help to promote bonding between parent and child. This can explain why you love having your baby sleep on your chest as well!
Seeking the Familiarity
Another reason babies love to sleep on their parents’ chests is that they are comforted by your scent, your warmth, and your familiar sounds.
Remember, all your baby has ever known is being carried inside a warm body surrounded by sounds of heartbeats, digesting, and rhythmic breathing. And suddenly, all that warmth and those calming sounds are gone. So it’s no wonder that your baby is seeking out the familiarity of your chest. When you put your baby on your chest, they feel as though they are back in the womb and this can be very comforting for them.
A Sense of Security
There is a reason why wearing your baby is often referred to as “wearing your heart on your sleeve.” When you have a baby close to your chest, they can feel the comforting thump of your heartbeat. And this can provide them with a sense of security and calm.
Allowing your baby to be in close contact with you can also help to reduce their stress levels. This is because the hormone oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone,” is released when we are close to someone we love. Oxytocin has been shown to have a calming effect and can help reduce stress levels.
This position also contributes to the development of a healthy attachment between parent and child. On your chest, your baby feels loved, safe and secure, and this can help to promote a strong bond between the two of you.
Potential Reflux Issues
While letting your baby nap on your chest is enjoyable and beneficial for both you and your baby, it should not substitute for putting your baby on their back for nighttime sleeping which is the safest sleep position for babies.
If your baby absolutely abhors lying on their back for sleeping, it may be due to reflux issues. Many babies suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause them a great deal of discomfort when they are lying down.
If this is your baby’s case, make sure to bring it up with your baby’s doctor. They may be able to offer some suggestions on how to deal with reflux issues and make your baby more comfortable.
Is It Safe for Your Baby to Sleep on Your Chest?
There are many (good) reasons why your baby loves sleeping on your chest, but it is important to note that this position is not recommended by health specialists. Moreover, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) strongly discourages bedsharing because it can increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
The main concern with letting your baby sleep on your chest is that there is the potential for your baby to roll off and get stuck in a compromising position. This can obviously be very dangerous as it can pose a suffocating risk.
Your baby can sleep on your chest. Just make sure to stay awake and to always keep airways free
So if you are going to do chest sleeping with your baby, make sure you follow all of the AAP’s guidelines for safe sleep and only let your baby sleep on your chest for short amounts of time while making sure you are wide awake! If you don’t trust yourself to not fall asleep while holding your baby, it may be best to place your baby in a crib or another safe sleeping arrangement.
The few times I let my daughter sleep on my chest during the early weeks, I was aware of the horror stories of babies accidentally rolling off their parent’s chest. So I would make sure each time to make coffee and keep my mind engaged, and I only did it while I was wide awake and chipper (never during the nights).
Safer Things to Try!
If you’re having a hard time putting your baby to sleep in their bassinet or crib, you could try swaddling them. This is an age-old technique that can be very effective in getting babies calm and feeling safe. It mimics the way your baby was restricted in the womb and can help to ease their anxiety.
You can also try using white noise to soothe your baby. There are many white noise machines on the market that can do the trick, or you can even try downloading a white noise app on your phone.
Snuggling with your newborn is one of the joys of parenthood, just do it safely and take in all those precious newborn cuddles while you can. Before you know it, your baby will outgrow the need to be on your chest all the time and will be off exploring the world on their own two feet!
My only caution is to watch out for habits, and pay attention to the sleep associations your baby is developing. If you find that your baby only falls asleep on your chest and nothing else will do, then you may want to talk to your pediatrician about it.
The purpose of this article is informative and educational only. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babycious may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content.