Babyproofing the nursery

Your baby’s room should be bright and well ventilated. It should also have a window. When it’s cold out, the room should be kept around 20°C (68°F). At that temperature, if your child is sweating it’s because he has too many covers on.

When it’s cold out, the humidity should ideally be kept between 30% and 45%.

Wood and vinyl floors are best because they are easier to keep clean than carpeting which absorbs moisture from the air and traps dirt. If you have carpet, vacuum regularly to eliminate dirt and dust mites.

Blinds

Cords used to operate blinds should be kept out of your child’s reach because they are a strangulation hazard. Blind and curtain cords in the nursery and throughout the house should be secured high up so your child cannot reach them. The best way to keep your child safe is to remove any window blinds with cords. Many stores sell cordless blinds.

Install your baby’s crib away from the window. Make sure your child cannot reach the blinds by climbing on furniture or anything else near the window.

The sale of blinds containing lead has only been regulated since 2009 in Canada. Low-cost PVC mini-blinds from China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Mexico made before 2009 may contain lead, which can cause lead poisoning and neurological problems in children. Health Canada recommends throwing out such blinds to avoid this type of problems.

Securing blind cords

Illustration: Maurice Gervais

Crib, cradle, and bassinet

The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib that meets Canadian safety standards. This type of bed can be used until your child is over 90 cm tall or is able to climb out of the crib, whichever happens first.

Cribs made before September 1986 do not comply with Health Canada’s Cribs, Cradles, and Bassinets Regulations and should not be sold or used. Since December 2016, this regulation has prohibited the sale, import, and manufacturing of drop-side cribs. Neither new nor secondhand drop-side cribs should be used.

You should regularly check the crib to make sure it is in good condition. Make sure all the parts are secured and undamaged. The mattress must be firm and fit the crib. There should be no more than 3 cm (316 in.) between the mattress and the sides of the crib.

Do not use removable S or Z hooks to secure the mattress support as they are unsafe. It is illegal to sell cribs with these types of hooks.

Make sure the base of your baby’s crib is securely in place. It should not move. The side slats should not be more than 6 cm (38 in.) apart.

Be wary of hand-me-down cribs and cribs from consignment stores, flea markets, and garage sales.

If you are thinking of using a bassinet or cradle instead of a crib during your baby’s first month, make sure the products you choose meet Health Canada’s regulations. Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions before using them.

Bunk beds are dangerous because children can fall out of them. Children under the age of 6 should not use them.

For more information, consult the pamphlet Is Your Child Safe? Sleep Time at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/alt_formats/pdf/pubs/cons/child-enfant/sleep-coucher-eng.pdf. You can also contact Health Canada toll-free at 1-866-662-0666 or by email at cps-spc@hc-sc.gc.ca.

Bedding

The only bedding your baby needs is a fitted sheet and a blanket. It is best to thoroughly wash and rinse them before use.

Do not use bumpers, crib skirts, pillows, positioners, and stuffed toys as they present a suffocation hazard.

These items should also be avoided when your child starts to move around in his crib because he could use them to climb out and could hurt himself if he falls.

Wash bedding regularly with hot water to kill dust mites, which feed on dead skin and live in warm, moist beds.