Why? The short answer is he sleeps better that way. The long answer is that I don’t think that the Back to Sleep campaign is really all that.
Yes, the numbers of babies who passed away from SIDS declined in the years after Back to Sleep was introduced, but that could be from more accurately diagnosing the cause of death. It used to be that any unexplained baby death would be ruled as SIDS, and now we’re more sophisticated. The ongoing research indicates that true SIDS (vs. suffocation, which is not SIDS) may be the result of a defect in the baby’s brain stem—“the portion of the brain that controls breathing and arousal from sleep doesn’t work properly.” – Mayo Clinic.
The rise of torticollis and other medical issues can be linked to the start of the Back to Sleep campaign. We have none of the other SIDS risk profiles: we don’t smoke or drink, we breastfeed, we aren’t African American or Inuit, no family history, I’m not a young mother, we have a new firm baby mattress in a crib with no loose items or fluffy quilts/stuffed animals, the baby was full term and of average weight. Basically, the only risk factor among the dozen listed, is that he’s a baby.
It happened with my first child. One sleepless night, in a fit of desperation and my mom’s voice echoing “babies love to sleep on their tummies”, I put him to sleep on his stomach. He slept marvelously for 3 whole hours. It was blissful. After that, I wouldn’t put him tummy down unless I was truly desperate for a little shut eye—only a couple times. As soon as he started rolling over independently, I always put him tummy down (I figured if they can get that way by themselves, they can start out that way.)
And my youngest child? I started him out as a tummy sleeper. I just did it. I feel like I’m getting away with something. He happily shuts his eyes and goes to sleep because he’s not hitting himself in the face with his arms accidentally (my kids won’t stay swaddled.) During the day, his stronger neck muscles are plain to see. A belly full of milk and a warm mattress, he’s my best sleeper yet, with a nice round head.
So yes, I put my kid tummy down.
The short answer is he’s happier and sleeps better that way—and so do I.