Safe Sleep for Infants
As most parents know, there are plenty of opinions out there on the best way to put your baby down for naps or bedtime. But the safest method for putting your baby down to sleep is more than just a matter of personal preference. Research has shown that some methods carry serious risks, including accidental injury, suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, you can lower these risks by making sure your baby has a safe sleep environment.
Canadian experts on child health and sudden infant death agree that the safest place for a baby to sleep during the first six months of life is on his or her back, in a crib in your room (which should be smoke-free). Having your baby close to you will make night time breastfeeding easier, and may help reduce the risk for SIDS. It’s also safer than having your baby in bed with you, since bed-sharing has been shown to increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS.
Below are current recommendations for a safe infant sleep environment:
- Don’t bed-share. Sharing an adult bed, sofa or other soft sleeping surface with your baby increases the risk of SIDS. Your baby is also at risk of becoming trapped, smothered or suffocated.
- Place your baby to sleep in your room, in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets current Canadian safety regulations. Your baby’s mattress should be firm, flat and fit snugly in the frame. Strollers, swings, bouncers and car seats are not intended for sleep.
- Place your baby on his or her back to sleep. While babies should spend some supervised time every day on their tummies (to help develop their neck muscles), at naptime and bedtime they should be put on their back.
- Keep soft materials out of your baby’s crib. Don’t use sleep positioners, or place bumper pads, comforters, stuffed animals, pillows or other items in your baby’s crib or bassinet.
- Make sure your baby’s room isn’t too warm. Put your baby in light sleepwear that’s comfortable at room temperature. If a blanket is needed, use only a thin, lightweight and breathable one, or a wearable blanket.
- Keep your baby away from tobacco smoke. Make your baby’s room and your house smoke-free, and choose a non-smoking caregiver. Don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
This article has been developed by the EOHU, and is supported by the Children's Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and Valoris for Children and Adults of Prescott-Russell.
Safe Sleep for Your Baby (booklet)
Safe Sleep for Your Baby (website)
Safe Sleep for Your Baby (video)
Public Health Agency of Canada, et al. 2011. Joint Statement on Safe Sleep: Preventing Sudden Infant Deaths in Canada.
Canadian Paediatric Society. Safe Sleep for Babies.