Safe sleeping for your baby

Creating a safe sleep environment will help reduce the risk of SIDS and other causes of sleep-related injuries and deaths.

Here are some simple things you can do to protect your baby in her first year:

Always put your baby on her back to sleep, every sleep, whether it is naptime or nighttime, or if you are at home or away from home. This is the safest position for baby’s sleep.

  • Safe sleeping

    If you have questions or concerns about your baby sleeping on her back talk to your health care provider.

Choose a safe place. Babies need a firm, flat, uncluttered surface for sleeping to reduce the risks of SIDS, being trapped or smothering. The safest place is a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets Canadian government safety standards and that is put together and used according to manufacturer's instructions.

A safe crib (cradle or bassinet) is one that is in good condition and has:

  • a firm, flat mattress that fits snugly into the frame, has no rips or tears and is:
    • no more than 15 cm (6 inches) thick for a crib
    • no more than 3.8 cm (1½ inches) thick for a bassinet
  • a tight-fitting bottom sheet
  • slats that are no more than 6 cm (2 3/8 inches) apart
  • a sticker saying it was made after September 1986 (Health Canada advises against using cribs over 10 years old)
  • no pillows, bumper pads, plastic mattress covers, heavy blankets, quilts, sheepskins, toys, stuffed animals or positioning devices (e.g., wedges or rolls)

Cradles and bassinets have weight limits. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

  • Crib safety

    As of 2016, drop-side cribs cannot be sold, imported and manufactured in Canada.
  • Find crib, cradle and bassinet standards at Health Canada.

Car seats are meant for keeping babies safe during travel. They aren’t meant to take the place of a crib, cradle or bassinet. When you get to your destination, take your baby out of the car seat to sleep.

Keep your baby warm, not hot. Overheating increases the risk of SIDS. Babies are safest when the room temperature is comfortable for an adult wearing light clothing.

  • If your home is cool, choose a warmer sleeper for your baby.
  • If you use a blanket, make sure it’s lightweight, firmly tucked under the end of the mattress and reaches only up to your baby’s chest.

Make your baby your roommate. Room sharing for the first 6 months helps protect your baby from SIDS and keeps her close without the risks of bed sharing. Room sharing means you sleep in the same room as your baby, but your baby is in her own crib, cradle or bassinet.

Clear the air. Babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy, and babies exposed to second-hand smoke before or after birth, have a higher risk of SIDS.

  • Protect your baby by staying smoke-free and keeping her away from second-hand and third-hand smoke before and after birth.
  • Make sure nobody smokes around your baby, at home, during travel or with other caregivers.
  • If you use tobacco, think about cutting back and quitting. Smoke outside, away from your baby. Make a habit of washing your hands and changing your outer clothing (e.g., shirt or jacket) before holding and cuddling your baby.
  • Want to quit?

    For help quitting smoking, visit AlbertaQuits or call toll-free at 1-866-710-QUIT (7848).

Breastfeed. When you breastfeed your baby you protect her from illness and reduce the risk of SIDS.

Sleep separately. Bed sharing increases your baby’s risk of death or injury. Bed sharing means a baby is sleeping on the same surface as another person, child or pet. These surfaces, including beds and other soft surfaces (e.g., sofas, upholstered chairs), aren’t safe for babies to sleep on, either alone or with someone else. Babies can fall, be strangled or suffocate if they get trapped in cracks or under bedding, pillows, cushions or another person.

The highest risk for babies is when they are sleeping with:

  • another person on a sofa or other soft, padded surface
  • one or more people on any surface (including beds) if either person:
    • is a smoker or if mom smoked during pregnancy
    • has taken alcohol, drugs or any medicine that decrease a person’s ability to respond
    • is overtired (e.g., from stress or lack of sleep)

Babies are safest sleeping in their own crib. If you don’t have a crib, cradle or bassinet for your baby:

  • put your baby on her back to sleep on a firm, flat surface
  • avoid soft surfaces (e.g., sofas and upholstered chairs, water-filled, air-filled, pillow-top or sagging mattresses and loose bedding)
  • prevent falls—never leave a baby alone on a raised surface

In addition, make sure:

  • your baby can’t get trapped between a mattress and headboard, footboard, wall or anything else
  • you and your partner know where she is at all times
  • her head remains uncovered
  • blankets and pillows are kept far away from her
  • the room temperature is comfortable so she doesn’t get overheated
  • all other children and pets are kept out of the bed

Taking these steps might reduce risk, but it does not make bed sharing safe. Bed sharing is not recommended by Alberta Health Services, the Canadian Paediatric Society or the Public Health Agency of Canada.

  • Questions about safe sleep

    Talk to your public health nurse or call Health Link toll-free in Alberta at 811 if you:
    • are unable to room share
    • don’t have a safe crib, cradle or bassinet
    • have questions about bed sharing
    There are agencies that can help you get the equipment your baby needs.

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