Creating a safe sleep environment for your baby
Follow the ABCs of safe sleep to keep your baby safe during every sleep. Share these safety tips with everyone who cares for your baby.
On this page
- ABCs of safe sleep
- Safety considerations for cribs, cradles and bassinets
- Safety considerations for playpens
- Unsafe sleep surfaces
ABCs of safe sleep
- Have your baby sleep alone in a crib, cradle or bassinet (including a bassinet attachment for a playpen) that meets current Canadian safety regulations.
- Place your baby's crib, cradle or bassinet in your bedroom for the first 6 months.
- Place your baby on their back for every sleep, including naps.
- When your baby can roll over on their own, you don't need to reposition them onto their back but it is still safest to put them to sleep on their back.
- Don't use sleep positioners, wedges or position devices like towels, rolls or positioning pillows to keep your baby on their back.
- Babies can suffocate on them.
Crib, cradle or bassinet:
- Make sure the sleep surface:
- has a firm, flat mattress with a tightly fitted sheet
- has no gaps between the mattress and sides of the crib, cradle or bassinet
- is placed away from cords, including blind and curtain cords, and electrical cords, like those on lamps, baby monitors and sound machines
Free of soft items:
- bare is best
- no blankets, quilts, pillows, bumper pads, mattress toppers, sleep positioners and toys, as babies can:
- suffocate against soft items
- become wedged between the item and the side of their sleep space
- no blankets over the top of the crib, cradle or bassinet to block out light, as this can:
- cause your baby to overheat
- decrease airflow and smother your baby if it falls on them
Decorate the room, not the crib, cradle or bassinet. Pillows, stuffed animals and soft bedding might make the space look more comfortable to you, but they can increase your baby's risk of suffocation. If you use a blanket for your baby, make sure it is thin and lightweight.
Keep your baby warm, not hot and remember to keep your baby's spaces smoke free. Learn more about reducing the risk of SIDS:
Safety considerations for cribs, cradles and bassinets
The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib, cradle or bassinet that meets current Canadian safety regulations. Assemble and use these products as directed by the manufacturer. Remember to consider age, weight and developmental milestones.
If you prefer to only purchase one of these products, a crib can be used safely for a wider range of ages and weights than a bassinet or a cradle. Follow these guidelines:
- a safe place for your baby to sleep until they can roll over or they reach the manufacturer's recommended weight limit
- a safe place for your baby to sleep until they can push up on their hands and knees or when they reach the manufacturer's recommended weight limit
- a safe place for your baby to sleep:
- until they can climb out on their own or
- when they are taller than 90 cm or
- when they reach the manufacturer's recommended age, height or weight limit
When choosing a crib for your baby, remember:
- Cribs made before September 1986 are not safe and should not be used.
- At this time, major changes were made to crib safety requirements like reducing the space between crib slats. Babies can get their head trapped between slats that are spaced too far apart.
- Cribs that are older than 10 years:
- are more likely to have broken, worn, loose or missing parts
- may be missing warnings or instructions
- may not meet current safety regulations
- Drop-side cribs are not allowed in Canada because babies have been seriously hurt in them.
When using a crib, cradle or bassinet, remember to:
- Check it regularly and do not use it if there are any loose or missing parts or signs of damage.
- Only use parts from the original manufacturer for repairs.
- Don't modify it in any way.
- Check that your mattress is firm and tight-fitting:
- The space between your mattress and sides of your crib, cradle or bassinet should not be more than 3 centimetres;
- Your crib mattress should not be more than 15 centimetres thick.
- Your cradle or bassinet mattress should not be more than 3.8 centimetres thick.
Safety considerations for playpens
When assembled according to the manufacturer's instructions, the bassinet attachments for playpens are a safe option for sleep. They're safe until your baby starts rolling over or reaches the weight limit for the attachment. The change table accessory is not the same as a bassinet attachment. It's not a safe place for your baby to sleep.
Playpens are not recommended for unsupervised sleep because they are not as durable and safe as cribs. If you use a playpen for sleep while travelling or as a short-term solution, remember to:
- supervise your baby while sleeping
- set it up according to the manufacturer's instructions
- position it away from blind/curtain cords and electrical cords
- never add an extra mattress or padding
Always follow safe sleep guidelines and keep your playpen free of soft items, bedding and toys while your baby is sleeping.
Unsafe sleep surfaces
In Canada, more than 9 in 10 infants who died suddenly in their sleep were in an unsafe sleep environment.
Below are examples of unsafe sleep environments.
In-bed sleepers and bedside sleepers
In-bed sleepers (baby sleep products that are placed in your bed) and bedside sleepers that attach to your bed are not safe sleep spaces. They can suffocate or trap your baby.
To be close to your baby, place their crib, cradle or bassinet next to your bed. Be aware of your bedding so it doesn't fall into your baby's crib, cradle or bassinet.
Sharing your bed with your baby can be risky. Bed sharing increases your baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and suffocation.
Learn more about the risks and the situations that make bed-sharing especially unsafe for babies:
Soft products like baby nests, loungers, nursing pillows and cushions are not safe places for your baby to sleep. The soft padded sides pose a suffocation risk.
- leave your baby unattended in these products
- use these products in a crib, cradle or bassinet or in an adult bed for a baby to sleep in
Products that put your baby in a seated or semi-reclined position
Products that put your baby into a seated or semi-reclined position are not safe spaces for your baby to sleep. These products are not designed for sleep. They include:
- car seats
- high chairs
- infant swings
- baby hammocks
Furniture designed for adults and older children
Furniture for adults and older children are not safe sleep spaces for your baby. Injuries and deaths from suffocation, entrapment and falls can happen quickly and quietly, even when a parent or caregiver is in the same room or nearby.
Don't leave your baby alone on:
- adult beds with standard mattresses
- sofas and armchairs
- water beds
- air mattresses
- children's beds
Portable bed rails are not safe for children under 2 years old. You can keep your child safe from falls by keeping the floor area around the bed clear or using a crib mattress on the floor beside the bed.
The top bunk of bunk bed is not safe for children under 6 years.
For more information or to report an injury or complaint, please contact Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety program:
Also visit our Consumer Product Safety web page.
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