my little man is 3.5 months and still has a strong startle reflex in his sleep and won’t stay asleep without being in his sleeping sack (only a head hole). However he is super restless in his sleep and can easily roll over onto his tummy. Twice in the last few days I have found him face down in his cot asleep with his face out to the side but i worry about his breathing being obstructed. Do you have any suggestions on keeping a safe sleeping environment with the startle reflex? Unfortunately even the armless sacks don’t keep him settled.
Red Nose states it is essential to discontinue wrapping and have arms free as soon as baby starts showing signs that they can begin to roll, usually between 4-6 months although sometimes later or earlier for some infants. Babies are at a significant risk if they roll onto their tummy whilst wrapped. Most babies will have the startle reflex disappear around 3 months of age (so hopefully this will soon for your son too). As baby is rolling you should be transitioning him to a sleeping bag with arms free, fitted arm and neck holes. Some babies tend to delay rolling onto their tummy’s when placed inside a safe baby sleeping bag. If you choose to use blankets ensure baby is placed with feet at the base of the cot, blankets are lightweight and securely tucked in at the base and sides of the cot mattress.
Give baby extra tummy time to play when awake and supervised as this helps baby to develop stronger neck and upper body muscles which in turn enables them to roll back over.
As babies grow and develop they become very active and learn to roll around the cot. At this time, continue to put them on the back at the start of sleep time, but if you have observed them awake being able to roll from their back to their tummy and back again multiple times over a few weeks then you continue to place them on their back for sleep but if they roll over onto their tummy you can allow them to find their own position of comfort.
It may be helpful to speak with your local child and family health nurse for settling strategies during this transition. You can also contact maternal child and health nurses by phone such as those at Tresillian in NSW, https://www.tresillian.org.au/contact-us
For more information about rolling please see: https://rednose.com.au/article/what-do-we-do-now-that-a-baby-has-started-to-roll-over
For more information about safe baby sleeping bags please see: https://rednose.com.au/article/benefits-of-using-a-safe-baby-sleeping-bag
For more information about blankets and bedding please see: https://rednose.com.au/article/bedding-amount-recommended-for-safe-sleep