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Safer Sleep for Your Baby

October 11, 2017 by HealthyFamilies BC

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Safer sleep for baby

The sleeping arrangements you choose are very important for giving your baby the safest sleep possible, and thankfully there are many ways to create a safer sleep environment for your little one.

Sleep related infant deaths can be a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS; a sudden and unexpected death in infancy without an explanation. Accidental death during sleep can happen too, such as suffocation as a result of items in the bed, the infant being placed face down to sleep, or the parent rolling onto the baby.

The safer sleep principles in this blog can help make every sleep safer for your baby!

Many First Nations and Aboriginal teachings explain that babies are gifts of life from the Creator. Sadly, sometimes babies leave the circle suddenly and far too early as a result of SIDS. Along with the safe sleep principles in this blog, learn about a new culturally appropriate resource, Honouring our Babies: Safe Sleep Cards & Guide.

Keep in mind these points when planning where your baby will sleep. Talk to your health care provider about how to use them to find a safer sleeping space for your baby that works for your family and respects your cultural traditions.

Safer Sleep Principles

  1. Back to Sleep
    Put your baby to sleep on his/her back for every sleep, whether it's naptime or nighttime.
  2. Firm Mattress Free of Hazards
    To reduce the risk of suffocation, put your baby to sleep on a firm mattress with a tight-fitting sheet and no bumper pads, pillows, heavy blankets, comforters, quilts or toys in the sleep space.
  3. Crib or Bassinet
    Put your baby to sleep in a Health Canada approved crib, cradle or bassinet. This is the safest place for your baby to sleep! You can talk to your health care provider if you're not sure if your crib, cradle or bassinet meets safety standards.

    Plan ahead to make sure that there will always be a safe place for your baby to sleep if you are going away from home. If there is no safe crib, cradle or bassinet at your destination, you can make a portable mattress out of a light blanket and a sturdy piece of cardboard. Wrap the blanket around the cardboard and tape it to the bottom. Place the cardboard inside:
    • A box or carton
    • A washtub
    • A laundry basket
    • A drawer
    safer sleep for babiesIf you use one of these alternative sleeping surfaces, make sure that it is placed on the floor.
  4. Sharing Your Room
    Having your baby sleep on a separate sleep surface in the same room as you for the first six months helps keep your baby safe.
  5. Smoke-free
    Avoiding smoking during pregnancy and keeping your home smoke-free before and after the birth helps prevent sleep-related infant death. Find help for quitting smoking at
  6. Breastfeeding
    Breastfeeding helps prevent sleep-related infant death. Any amount of breast milk will give your baby`s immune system a boost and help keep him/her healthy.
  7. Avoid Overheating
    Babies like to be warm but not hot. For sleeping, you can keep the room temperature comfortable (around 18 degrees C) and use a thin, lightweight blanket, sleep sack or blanket-weight sleeper. There is no need to swaddle or put a hat on indoors.

Some unexpected dangers…

Couches and Chairs
Don't fall asleep with your baby on a couch or recliner. This is not safe.
If you doze off, your baby could slip between your body and the cushions and suffocate, or fall to the floor. Have a baby bed or bassinet ready, or ask someone else to take the baby if you start getting sleepy. It is NEVER safe for a baby to sleep on a couch or chair (alone or with a parent).

Car Seats
Don't leave your baby asleep in a car seat once you have reached your destination. This is not safe.
Car seats are designed for safety when traveling in a car. Take your baby out of the car seat once you have reached your destination and put him or her to sleep in a safe place (like the alternative safe sleep surfaces on the right!).

Adult Beds
Don't leave your baby alone in an adult bed. This is not safe.
Adult beds are not designed to keep babies safe. Even a very young infant can wiggle in to a dangerous position.

Make every sleep a safer sleep, day or night… so you can sleep soundly too.

Author's bio: Today’s blog post is based on expert information from Perinatal Services BC and the Ministry of Health. It is one piece in a three part series raising awareness about sleep related infant death.

Recommended resources

Safer Sleep for My Baby
Healthy Families BC: Baby Safety
HealthLink BC: Safe Sleeping for Babies

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