It’s not just the baby’s waking hours that come with risks and dangers. During sleep time, you can also do a lot to minimize the risks and protect your baby. Here are some steps you can take to create a safe sleep environment for your child, whether they’re a baby, toddler, or older child.
Sleep safety for babies in cribs
The safest place for a baby to sleep is alone in a crib. The crib can be in your baby’s room, or you can place your baby to sleep in a crib, cradle, or bassinet beside your own bed. Known as room-sharing, this may be particularly appealing to mothers who breastfeed and want their baby to be near them without sharing the same bed surface. It can be dangerous, however, to have an infant sleeping in bed with you and/or your partner.
Buying a crib
- Cribs, cradles, and bassinets sold in Canada must meet current safety regulations. This includes items sold at second-hand stores and online second-hand retailers.
- Cribs made after 1986 meet today’s standards for safety, but it’s still best not to use a crib that’s more than 10 years old.
- Look for the label to show when the crib was made. If it does not have a label, it may not be safe.
- Before you buy a crib, cradle, or bassinet, check the recalls and safety alerts database.
- Make sure your crib has no loose, missing, or broken parts.
- Make sure the crib mattress fits tightly within the crib. If you can fit more than one finger between the mattress and each side of the crib, the mattress is too small.
Safe sleep practices
- The safest way for your baby to sleep is on her back in her own crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets Canadian safety regulations.
- Other than a firm mattress and a fitted sheet, there should be nothing else in the crib, cradle, or bassinet with your baby.
- Keep your baby’s crib away from windows, curtains, or blind cords.
- Remove any bibs, teething jewelry, or anything with ties from your baby before putting him/her the crib.
Sleep safety for toddlers: introducing a bed
- You should move your toddler to a toddler bed or a mattress on the floor as soon as they try to climb out of the crib.
- Make sure the bed or mattress is low to the floor.
- Make sure there are no large gaps between the mattress and the bed frame.
- Keep all furniture away from windows and tie up blind cords.
- A window screen will not keep your child from falling out.
- Keep beds and other furniture away from windows.
- Attach heavy furniture like dressers and bookshelves to the wall using safety straps or screws.
- Store bedroom products like lotions and creams up high and out of reach.
- Check your toddler’s room often for any small parts from toys or other items that could be choking or strangulation risks.
Sleep safety for older children
Older children have outgrown some of the sleep safety risks they faced as babies, and might be ready for a full-size bed. If you’re considering a bunk bed for your older child, there are new safety issues to consider.
- In Canada, more than 300 children are injured due to bunk beds every year. Although there are no safety standards for bunk beds in Canada, Health Canada recommends buying bunk beds that meet current standards—look for the “ASTM F1427” label on the bunk bed.
- Children must be at least 6 years old before they can use the top bunk
- Only one child should be on the top bunk at a time.
- Use the bunk bed as intended—children should always use the ladder when getting on or off the top bunk.
- Only play under a top bunk bed if the lower space is designed by the manufacturer as a play area.
- Never tie anything to the bed. Cords, sashes, or ropes can strangle a child.
- For more information on bunk beds, visit Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety page on “Bunk Bed Safety”.
- For questions on product safety or recalls, visit Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety site.
- For more info on safe sleep for infants, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), please visit Health Canada’s “Safe Sleep for Your Baby”.
- Check for product recalls on children’s sleepwear on Health Canada’s Consumer Product Safety website.