Many parents know that the safest way to put their babies to sleep is on their back. However, as the baby grows and learns how to roll, they acquire different and funny sleeping positions.
For instance, have you ever caught your baby sleeping with the head tilted back? It is very common for older babies, say four months and above, to sleep in this position, which is a significant concern for many parents.
Because of the fear of SIDS, most parents monitor their babies and position them on their back, but they will end up turning back to the head tilted position.
According to discussions on various mom forum groups online, some babies cry less when they are put down after adopting this sleeping position. This leaves the parents confused because what seems like a dangerous sleeping position seems enjoyable and comfortable for the baby.
If you landed this article trying to figure out why your baby sleeps with your head tilted back, take a deep breath because it is a common sleeping position, and there is nothing wrong with your little one.
Reasons Why Baby Sleeps with Head Tilted Back?
Now that many babies sleep with their heads tilted back, it is only fair to look at some reasons why babies choose this position. Below are some reasons why:
Baby has more control over their body
Most babies adopt this sleeping position from four months because they have developed muscle strength on the neck, shoulders, and head. Some babies adopt this position after the first successful rollover. Just like adults who can control their bodies and choose different sleeping positions, the same case applies for babies. If your baby enjoys this position, no matter the number of times you try to turn them, they will go back to it.
The tilted head opens the airway more
Some babies take this position if they are experiencing breathing difficulties for whatever reason. Tilting the head to the back opens their airways more, allowing the baby to breathe easier. This position prevents the possibilities of Positional asphyxiation, where babies die from suffocation because they tilted their heads on the sides blocking the airways.
A way of dealing with silent reflux
Most parents associate acid reflux with spitting up. However, some babies experience silent reflux, and therefore they tilt their heads to the back to get rid of the pain and acid. What a blessing to have your baby deal with reflux this way because it means you do not have to put them on medication or deal with the crying.
From the three points above, it is clear that there is no need for alarm when your baby decides to tilt its head back all night. However, if they seem to cry and struggle in this position, make sure to consult with your doctor.
It is okay for your baby to tilt their heads to the back while sleeping, but you should be concerned if your baby’s head is tilted.
If you realize that your baby’s head is tilted on the side or they prefer facing in one direction all the time, they might be suffering from Torticollis. It would be best to take them to the doctor immediately for diagnosis.
Torticollis is a condition that makes a baby hold their neck or head on the sides at a tilted position. You might notice that your baby only leans towards one shoulder, or they only turn to one side during tummy time.
During the early stages, this condition causes the baby’s head to flatten on one side and might result in permanent face deformity, difficulty in head movement, and unevenness if left untreated.
Causes of Torticollis
Head tilt happens from the shortening of the neck muscles connecting the breastbone and the collarbone from the head. As a result of the short neck muscles, the baby’s head is forced to rotate or tilt on one side.
In most cases, this muscle shortens due to birth injuries, bone problems, unusual positions during birth, or inheritance.
Symptoms of Torticollis
The symptoms of infant Torticollis depend on whether the baby was born with it (congenital Torticollis) or they acquired it after birth (acquired Torticollis) as discussed below:
If your baby is born with Torticollis, you will notice its symptoms mostly from 6 weeks, when the baby can control the neck and head. The symptoms may include:
- Head tilted to one side
- Limited motion of the neck and head
- Flattening of the head or face on one side
- Your baby might prefer breastfeeding from one side only
- A lump on the baby’s neck
Symptoms of acquired congenital Torticollis
If the baby acquires Torticollis after birth, you might notice the following:
- Head tilted to one side
- Limited head and neck motions
- Recurring episodes of head tilting accompanied by vomiting, drowsiness, or irritability
Treatment for Infant Torticollis
Each type of Torticollis requires different forms of treatment. The good news is irrespective of the type, Torticollis is treatable at its early stages. Therefore, if you notice that your baby’s head is titled or rotates to one side only, seek medical help immediately.
After observation and possibly an x-ray, your doctor will determine the type of Torticollis your baby is suffering from and recommend the correct exercise programs to help stretch the neck muscles.
What To Do When Baby Sleeps with Head Tilted Back?
There is no need to force the baby’s head straight unless they take the chin-neck position, blocking the airways. Babies are flexible, and as long as they can roll over, they can sleep in whatever position they want.
What’s more, if your baby is spitting up, it is safe for them to sleep with the head tilted back than sleeping straight. If you were planning to seek professional help, there is no need. As long as you have all safe sleeping practices in place, do not interfere with your child’s sleeping position.
It is okay for the baby to sleep with the head tilted back as long as they are comfortable. While it might look uncomfortable to you that their head is tilted far back, the baby is okay, and there is no need to panic.
Some specialists argue that the baby tilts their heads subconsciously to keep their small and delicate airways entirely open to prevent suffocation. Therefore, instead of worrying, celebrate that your baby is safe.
See also Why Baby Holds Arms Back When Held