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Choosing a Crib and Mattress

January 26, 2018 by HealthyFamilies BC

newborn baby on mattress sleeping on back


According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, the safest place for a baby to sleep is on their back in his or her own crib.  

Here's some advice on choosing a crib and mattress for your newborn.

  • Choose a crib that meets the federal government regulations for cribs and cradles. Cribs built before 1986 do not meet these regulations and are not safe.
  • When you assemble the crib, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check that there is less than six cm (two inches) of space between the vertical slats (bars) on the sides, head and foot of the crib.
  • Use a crib mattress no thicker than 15 cm (six inches) that fits the frame tightly. If you can stick two fingers between the crib and mattress easily, the fit is too loose; your baby could get stuck between the mattress and the bars.
  • The mattress should be firm. If it’s worn or has a tear, it’s dangerous. Don’t use it.
  • The mattress support should hold firmly and be checked often. You can do this by shaking the mattress support, thumping the mattress from the top and pushing hard on the support from underneath. Make sure all screws, locks and clamps are tight.

Babies don’t need much bedding. To ensure your baby is safe and comfy:

  • Use either a quilted crib pad (one side is waterproof) or a mattress cover under the sheet to protect the crib mattress.
  • Don’t use plastic sheets.  They can interfere with breathing.
  • Use a fitted sheet over the crib mattress.
  • Do not use sheepskins, pillows, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys or bumper pads in the crib. These items can prevent good air circulation around your baby’s face.
  • A sleeper and a light blanket or a blanket-weight sleeper should be enough to keep your baby comfortable.
  • Top sheets are not recommended until your child is an older toddler. Babies can get tangled in a top sheet.
  • Never cover your baby’s face or head with blankets.

A co-sleeper is a type of crib that attaches to the side of an adult bed. These may pose a danger of suffocation, as infants have been trapped between the edge of the mattress and the side of the co sleeper.

Babies are safest when put down to sleep on their backs, in a crib or bassinet that meets Canadian safety standards, with no quilts, pillows, stuffed toys or other soft material in the crib.

Warning about Dropside Cribs
Drop-side cribs are not recommended. Effective December 29, 2016 the sale or advertisement of drop-side cribs is banned in Canada. This includes the resale of used drop-side cribs.

If you do use a drop-side crib, ensure that it has double locks that prevent the crib from collapsing or folding.

Resources and Links:

HealthLink BC: Crib Safety


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