Many of us adults tend to go to sleep and wake up in roughly the same position.
So when looking at your baby monitor or entering your child’s room during the night, you may be concerned if you see your baby has moved around their crib while sleeping.
But is this movement anything to be concerned about?
The good news is it’s perfectly normal for babies to move around a lot in their crib, and for babies to end up sideways or in the corner, or even turn 180 degrees, while in their sleep.
Babies and infants are naturally active while asleep because they spend the majority of their sleep in the REM sleep (also known as the dream cycle).
But as long as you follow safe sleep recommendations, there’s typically no need to worry.
Is It Normal For Babies To Move Around or Turn Over While Sleeping?
Yes, although it may come as a surprise, it’s very normal for a newborn baby, as well as for infants and toddlers, to move around and turn over while sleeping.
One of the main reasons for this is due to a baby’s sleep cycle.
Babies and children (as well as adults) wake up several times per night, and this is usually after a sleep cycle is completed.
We all have the following two different types of sleep:
- NREM: non-rapid eye movement
- REM: rapid eye movement.
According to research, a newborn baby spends more than 50% of their sleep time in this REM sleep cycle, which is much more than the 20% that adults typically spend in this cycle.
And as babies retain their muscle tone and ability to wiggle, stretch and even talk or make noises during the REM cycle, they often move around quite a lot while in this REM cycle.
The amount of movement (or restlessness) varies between children, but it’s most common in babies and toddlers, and will typically decrease as your child gets older.
What To Do If Your Baby Moves In Their Crib While Sleeping
It’s only natural to be concerned if your baby starts moving around a lot or turning 180 degrees in their crib.
Here are some important things you can do to ensure your baby is safe while sleeping, even if they move a lot during naptime and overnight:
Don’t Panic or Worry
As we mention above, it’s perfectly normal for babies of all ages to move around in their crib or bassinet, and sometimes the degree of movement may be surprising.
But there’s no need for parents to worry or panic about this movement, provided you follow safe sleep guidelines and best practices.
But you should only swaddle a newborn baby who cannot roll over yet, so once your baby is able to roll over, you should stop swaddling and may want to consider a sleep sack instead.
Move From Bassinet To Crib
Bassinets are great for newborns and convenient for adults alike, because they are cozy for your tiny baby while being small and protable enough to fit in your bedroom.
For some parents, bassinets therefore make it easier to follow expert guidelines around sleeping in the same room as your newborn for the first 6 to 12 months.
Other Things To Consider
It’s also worth considering whether your baby’s movement may be down to discomfort.
If this could be the case, here are some things to do and check which may help the situation:
- If your house is noisy once your baby is down, keep disturbances to a minimum by playing a relaxing white noise.
- Check your baby is appropriately dressed for sleep in summer and also for winter, and ensure their bedtime clothing has the appropriate TOG rating.
- Consider if your child is currently experiencing any stress.
- Darken their room as much as possible for all sleep including daytime naps, as a dark environment should help your baby sleep better.
Safe Sleeping Tips
Following safe sleep guidelines is a great way to reduce any concerns about your baby’s movement while in their crib or bassinet.
The first thing to remember is to follow the ABC’s of safe sleep:
- Alone: Your baby should always sleep on their own sleep surface.
- Back: Your baby should sleep on their back for every sleep. Don’t move your baby if they roll over to their front, but do put them down on their back for every sleep until they are 12 months old.
- Crib: Up until your baby is one year of age, their crib or bassinet should be empty, which means no pillows, blankets, loveys or soft toys. Pacifiers are ok however, as there is evidence to suggest they can reduce the risk of SIDS.
Other important safe sleep recommendations for newborn babies, infants and toddlers include:
- Use a firm mattress that fits well and use sheets (ideally fitted).
- For at least the first 6 months experts including the AAP recommend that your baby sleeps in the same room as you.
- Your baby should always sleep in their own bassinet or crib, and never in the same bed as an adult to reduce the chances of suffocation, strangulation and SIDS.
- Even when your baby is ready to have a blanket in their crib (when they are at least 12 months old), you should choose the type of blanket wisely and opt for smaller, lighter and thinner blankets as they pose less of a suffocation risk.