Sleeping safely

Essential information to rememberFor her own safety, your baby should sleep on her back, in her own crib.

Photo: Aurélie Maheux-Dubuc

Starting from birth, your baby should sleep on her back. Once she begins turning over on her own, you can let her sleep in the position she prefers without any danger.

Your baby should always sleep on a firm mattress and in a crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets Canadian government safety standards (see Crib, cradle, and bassinet). Aside from a tight fitted sheet, there should be nothing on the bed (e.g., comforters, pillows, bumper pads). If you think your child needs to be covered, use a light blanket or a sleep sack suitable for the child’s height. Make sure your baby isn’t too hot.

Sharing your room

Recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society

The Canadian Paediatric Society and Health Canada recommend that babies sleep in their own beds in their parents’ bedrooms for the first six months of their lives. It is the safest place for a baby to sleep.

If you are unable to sleep well when you’re in the same room as your baby, you could have her sleep in a secure crib in another room (see Crib, cradle, and bassinet). The quality of your sleep is very important.

Do you sleep with your baby?

Every year there are reports of deaths of babies who were sharing a sleep surface with their parents.

To avoid an accident, never sleep with your baby

  • on a couch or similar furniture (eg., upholstered chair)
  • if you have been drinking, taking medication that makes you drowsy or using drugs
  • if you are extremely tired (more than usual)

In these cases, it is much safer for your baby to be in her crib.

To safely share your bed, make sure that you

  • Always lay your baby on her back
  • Use a firm mattress (no soft surfaces or water beds)
  • Remove soft bedding and other items (e.g., pillows, comforters, stuffed toys)
  • Leave enough distance between the mattress and wall that your baby can’t get stuck
  • Never let your baby sleep alone in an adult bed

Sleeping away from home

Essential information to rememberWhen you go for walks, your baby will be safest and most comfortable sleeping on her back in a stroller.

Photo: Mélanie Safi

Your baby must sleep in a safe place, even when you are away from home. Never, under any circumstances, put your baby to bed alone in an adult bed and don’t use pillows. If you don’t have a crib, a blanket placed directly on the floor can act as a temporary safe bed for a baby who is less than 6 months old. Using a mattress placed on the ground or a playpen are two other potential solutions for putting your baby to bed when you are travelling. If using a playpen, do not add mattresses or padding.

A car seat should be used only for transporting your baby in the car. Car seats and baby seats should not be used in place of a crib as they are not a safe place for sleeping.

If you use a stroller when you go for walks, your baby will be safest and most comfortable sleeping on her back. The back of the stroller should fold down flat or almost flat, and your baby should be properly strapped in. Some parents prefer using a secure baby carrier for walks (see Baby carriers).

Information to which you should pay special attentionBe careful; your infant is not safe in her baby carrier if you are sleeping or lying down while wearing the carrier.