Make a safe sleeping environment for your newborn.
The most important thing about sleep for babies is to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and prevent accidental death due to infants being trapped between two surfaces or suffocating during sleep.
Remember, babies less than six months of age are not expected to sleep through the night. Their normal sleep cycle is shorter. They will wake up in the night.
Safe sleep tips
- Back to sleep. Put your baby to sleep on their back for every sleep, whether it's naptime or nighttime.
- 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.
- Crib or bassinet. Put your baby to sleep in a Health Canada approved crib, cradle or bassinet. This is the safest place for a baby to sleep. Plan ahead to make sure that there will always be a safe place for your baby to sleep, even when you are travelling or are away from home.
- 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.
- Smoke-free. Avoiding smoking during pregnancy and keeping your home smoke-free before and after the birth helps prevent sleep-related infant death.
- 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 them healthy.
- 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’s no need to swaddle or put a hat on indoors.
- 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’re getting sleepy. It is NEVER safe for a baby to sleep on a couch or chair (alone or with a parent).
- 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 them to sleep in a safe place.
- 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.
Sharing a bed with your baby can be risky. If you think you might ever share a bed, or even if you don’t plan to do so, here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure your bed is as safe as possible for your baby:
- Do you or anyone in your household ever smoke? Smoking increases your baby’s risk of sleep-related death, especially while bed sharing.
- Have you or your partner recently drunk any alcohol? Heavier sleep after drinking alcohol increases the risk that you will roll over onto your baby, which can cause suffocation. It’s best to have another adult on hand to help with your baby if you have drunk any alcohol.
- Did you smoke when you were pregnant? Smoking during pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of sleep-related death, especially while bed sharing.
- Have you or your partner recently used any drugs or taken any medicine that might make you sleep heavily? Heavier sleep increases the risk that you or your partner will roll over onto your baby, which can cause suffocation.It’s best to have another adult on hand to help with your baby if you have taken any drugs or medicines that make you less alert.
- Was your baby born premature (before 37 weeks) or small-at-birth (weighing less than 2.5 kg or 5.5 lbs at birth)? Premature and small-at-birth babies have an increased risk of sleep-related death when sharing a bed, even with parents who don’t smoke.
If you answered YES to any of those questions, then bed sharing is especially risky for your baby. Your health-care provider can help you develop a safer sleep plan for your baby.
Bed sharing and breastfeeding
Most mothers who breastfeed their baby in bed will naturally sleep facing their baby with their knees drawn up under the baby’s feet and arm above the baby’s head. This protects the baby from moving down under the covers or up under the pillow. If you have never breastfed and/or do not naturally sleep in this position with your baby, it is safer for your baby to sleep on their own sleep surface in your room.
- Baby is far away from any pillows and duvets/blankets.
- Baby sleeps on their back.
- Baby is not swaddled.
- The mattress is on the floor to reduce the risk of falls. The mattress is firm and clean (no waterbeds, pillow tops, feather beds, or sagging mattresses).
- Baby sleeps on the outside of the bed, not between parents.
- There is space around the bed so your baby cannot get trapped between the mattress and the wall or bedside table.
- Both parents are aware that baby is in the bed and are comfortable with this decision.
- If either parent has long hair, they tie it back so it can’t get tangled around the baby’s neck.
- Other children or pets aren’t sharing the bed with the baby.