MyHealth.Alberta.ca Network

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 December 2016, traditional drop-side cribs cannot be advertised, sold, imported or manufactured in Canada. If you have a drop-side crib, consider replacing it. If you continue to use it, make sure it hasn’t been recalled and meets current Canadian safety regulations. Ensure that both sides are in the up and locked position when your baby is in the crib and stop using it if it has any loose or missing parts.
  • 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.

Keep spaces smoke-free. 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).

Share a room with your baby. Room-sharing means that your baby sleeps in the same room as you or another person, but on a separate sleep surface like a crib, cradle or bassinet. It’s recommended that you share a room with your baby for at least the first 6 months.

Room-sharing:

  • keeps your baby close and safe
  • supports the bond between you and your baby
  • makes it easier to learn and
  • respond to your baby’s cues
  • makes it easier to feed your baby, especially at night. If you bring your baby into bed for feeding, put them back in their own crib, cradle or bassinet before you go to sleep.

Do not share a bed, sofa or any other sleep surface with your baby. Bed sharing means that a baby sleeps on the same surface, like a bed or a sofa, with another person. This includes a parent, caregiver, child or even a pet. Bed sharing increases your baby’s risk of SIDS and other sleep-related injuries and death.

Bed sharing also creates risks related to

  • falls, strangulation or suffocation if your
  • baby gets:
  • trapped between a mattress and
  • headboard or footboard
  • wedged against a wall or a person
  • tangled in bedding, pillows or cushions

Twins and other multiples are also safer when sleeping on their own and not sharing a sleep surface. The risk is that one infant may entrap the other causing them to suffocate, in the same way an adult or older child could if they were sleeping together.

If you choose to bed share:

  • Never sleep with your baby on any soft or padded surface such as a sofa, upholstered chair, bed with a soft mattress or bedding, or water or air-filled mattress.
  • Keep bed covers, blankets and pillows far away from your baby.
  • Make sure you and your partner always know when your baby is in the bed with you. Never share a bed with your baby if you or your partner:
    • smoke
    • have used alcohol, cannabis, other drugs, or any prescription, over-the-counter or
    • herbal medicine that makes you sleepy or less able to respond to your baby’s needs
    • are overtired from stress or lack of sleep

If you choose to bed share, make sure you follow all the information provided. Remember that taking these steps may reduce some of the risk, but it does not make bed sharing safe.

Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of SIDS and other illnesses. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is recommended.Taking your baby into bed for feeding or for comfort is risky if you fall asleep. Lying down to feed is an effective feeding position for many moms. However, it’s easier to fall asleep if you’re in this position, especially if you’re tired. To stay awake while feeding your baby in your bed, try wiping your face and neck with a wet cloth or keeping the room lights, TV or music on. Put your baby on their back in their own crib, cradle or bassinet if you feel sleepy. If you choose to sleep with your baby on the same sleep surface or feel you may fall asleep while feeding your baby, follow the recommendations above.

  • 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.

To learn more about creating a safe infant sleep environment, visit the Safe Sleep for Baby videos page. 

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