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Consumer Product Safety

Consumer Information Bulletin - Safe Sleep Practices for Infants

It is recommended that caregivers always follow the ABCs of Safe Sleep:

A is for alone.
B is for back to sleep.
C is for sleeping in a crib.

The issue

The safest place for an infant to sleep is alone in a crib. Cradles and bassinets meeting Canadian safety regulations are also safe places for an infant to sleep when used as directed by the manufacturer (for age and weight limitations). Infants and young children should never be placed to sleep on unsuitable surfaces, such as a standard bed, water bed, air mattress, sofa, futon or armchair.

It is not safe for babies to sleep unattended in a seated or semi-reclined position in products, such as carriages, strollers, car seats, infant swings, bouncers or recliners. When asleep, the baby's head can fall forward and make breathing difficult. A baby should be moved to a crib, cradle or bassinet for naps and overnight sleeping, or, if travelling, once a destination is reached.

An infant's sleep surface should always be firm, flat, and free of soft bedding. Infants do not require additional covers as infants' movements may cause their head to become completely covered, which may cause the infant to overheat. If a blanket is needed, infants are safest with a thin, lightweight, and breathable blanket.

Sleep-related hazards include:

Bed sharing

Bed sharing is when an adult or another child sleeps on the same surface as an infant.

  • Caregivers may believe that bed sharing will reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); however, there is no evidence of this. Research shows that the risk of SIDS is higher if the person sharing a bed with an infant is a smoker, very tired, or under the influence of drugs or alcoholFootnote 1.
  • Infants can become entrapped between objects such as the sleeping surface, the body of the parent or caregiver, the wall and other objects.
  • Infants sleeping on an elevated surface can fall and be seriously injured.
  • Infants can suffocate in soft bedding materials, such as pillows or comforters.


Since playpens do not meet the same safety requirements and are not as durable as cribs, they are not recommended to be used as an unsupervised sleep surface.

  • Supervise children at all times while they are in a playpen.
  • If a change table or bassinet accessory is provided for the playpen, never put a baby in the playpen while the accessory is still attached to the playpen.
  • Do not add blankets, pillows or an extra mattress to a playpen. The use of these items could lead to suffocation.
  • Check that the playpen floor pad is firm. Floor pads that are too soft or worn down in any area could create a suffocation hazard.

Cribs, Cradles and Bassinets

A crib that meets current Canadian safety regulations is the safest place for an infant to sleep. A crib can be used until there is a possibility that the child could climb out on their own or when they are taller than 90 cm. A cradle is also a safe place for an infant to sleep until they can push up on their hands and knees or they reach the manufacturer's recommended weight limit. A bassinet is a safe place for an infant to sleep until they can roll over or they reach the manufacturer's recommended weight limit.

  • Do not use a crib made before September 1986 as it does not meet current safety regulations. Also, cribs older than 10 years are more likely to have broken, worn, loose or missing parts, and to be missing warnings or instructions.
  • Check the crib, cradle or bassinet regularly before using it and do not use it if any parts are loose or missing, or if there are any signs of damage.
  • Do not modify a crib, cradle or bassinet in any way. Always follow manufacturer's instructions for assembling and using the crib, cradle or bassinet. Only parts obtained from the original manufacturer must be used for repairs.
  • Avoid the use of soft objects in the crib, cradle or bassinet, such as pillows, plush toys, sleep positioners, comforters, bumper pads, lambskins and similar products as they can pose a suffocation risk.
  • Check that the crib, cradle or bassinet mattress is firm and tight-fitting. The space between the mattress and the sides of the crib, cradle or bassinet should not be more than 3 cm. The crib mattress should not be more than 15 cm thick. The cradle or bassinet mattress should not be more than 3.8 cm thick.
  • Do not place cords, straps or corded baby monitors, in or near a crib, cradle or bassinet, as they could become wrapped around a child's neck.
  • Keep the crib, cradle or bassinet away from windows or patio doors where a child can reach a blind or curtain cord and strangle.

General Safe Sleep Tips

  • Infants should be placed on their backs to sleep.
  • Never allow an infant to sleep on the same surface as an adult or another child.
  • Baby sleep products intended to be placed in the adult bed or attach to the adult bed are not recommended by Health Canada. These products present a risk of suffocation and entrapment. Instead use a crib, cradle or bassinet next to your bed. Do not use bed-side sleepers with the sides lowered.
  • Infants and young children should not be placed to sleep in hammocks. Infants placed on soft bedding, including hammocks, can become wedged in positions in which they cannot breathe.
  • Never place a child younger than 2 years of age on a bed fitted with a portable bed rail. To keep younger children safe if they fall out of bed, keep the floor area around the bed clear, or use a crib mattress on the floor beside the bed.
  • Children under the age of 6 should not sleep on the top bunk of bunk beds.

For more information

For further information or to report an injury or complaint, please contact Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety program at 1-866-662-0666 or email, or visit the Consumer Product Safety (CPS) section of Health Canada's Web site at


Footnote 1

Canadian Paediatric Society

Return to footnote 1 referrer