The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that the safest place to sleep for children under the age of 12 months is in their own crib. If your toddler is under the age of 12 months, put your toddler to sleep on his or her back, in a crib meeting the Canadian government’s safety standards. For more information on purchasing a safe crib, a safe mattress, and safe bedding, click here.
Back to Sleep
If your toddler is under 12 months of age, put your toddler to sleep on his or her back. If your toddler is turning onto the tummy on his or her own, it is not necessary to force your toddler to return to the back.
Safety and Sleeping
- Put your toddler to sleep on a firm surface for bedtime and all naptimes.
- Mattresses should be firm and fit snugly in the crib. Use a snug fitted sheet over the mattress.
- Place your toddler’s crib away from windows, heat sources, lamps, curtains, blinds, and electrical plugs and cords.
- Do not use sheepskins, pillows, quilts, comforters, stuffed toys, or bumper pads in the crib. These things can stop good air circulation around your baby’s face.
- Do not leave loose objects (including bottles) in the crib.
- Your toddler needs only a blanket‑weight sleeper or a light sleeper and a thin blanket. Your toddler should be warm but not too hot.
- Never cover your toddler’s face or head with blankets. Do not use a top‑sheet until she or he is an older toddler.
- Do not let your toddler sleep on pillows, couches, reclining chairs, air mattresses, down comforters (or other loose bedding) or other soft surfaces. Avoid these soft surfaces even for temporary sleeping arrangements (such as during travel).
- Car seats, seat carriers, and playpens should not replace the crib as a sleeping surface.
- Do not leave your toddler alone on an adult bed or let other children sleep with your baby.
Car Seats are for Travel Only
Car seats are designed for safety when traveling with your baby in a car. Some babies fall asleep while travelling in a car seat. Take your baby out of the car seat once you have reached your destination. Your baby should not be left to sleep in the car seat. Sleeping babies should be placed on their backs on a flat, firm, safe sleep surface.
Bed sharing is when your toddler shares the same sleeping surface with you or another adult. Bed sharing is not recommended for infants under 12 months of age because it increases the chance of suffocation. This risk increases even more if your toddler shares a bed with you (or with any other person) and you:
- Are a smoker, or have been exposed to second‑hand smoke.
- Have been drinking alcohol or using drugs.
- Have taken any medicines that could make you extra sleepy.
- Are very tired, to the point where you would not be able to respond to your toddler.
- Are ill or have a medical condition that might make it difficult to respond to your toddler.
- Have long hair that is not tied back.
- Are obese.
Room sharing is when your toddler sleeps in the same room as you but not on the same surface (for example, your toddler is in a crib beside your bed). Room‑sharing may protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS (formerly known as "crib death") is the sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy child under 12 months of age. There are steps you can take to lessen the risk:
- A smoke‑free home will reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Children under 12 months of age should be put to sleep on their backs on a firm surface. The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that for the first 12 months of life the safest place for a child to sleep is in his own crib.
- When your baby can roll over on his own from his back to stomach, usually at 5-7 months of age, there is no need to continue to place him on his back if he turns over in his sleep.
- Room sharing may protect against SIDS and is safer than bed sharing. Bed sharing is not recommended.
- Breastfeeding may help prevent SIDS.
- Keep your toddler warm, not hot. To check if your toddler is too hot, place your hand on the back of her or his neck. Your toddler should not be sweating.
- Keep the room ventilated and not too warm.
- When awake, give younger toddlers (aged 6-9 months) some supervised tummy time to help develop arm and neck strength.
At some point, you will decide it’s time to move your toddler out of a crib and into a bed. Some 36‑month‑olds still sleep happily in a crib, while some 18‑ month‑olds are already climbing out. If your toddler is trying hard to climb out of the crib, then it’s time to move him or her to a bed.
Bed Safety Checklist
- Choose a bed with a simple design. There should be nothing sticking out, no cut‑outs, and no fancy headboard and footboard.
- Check the joints every few months to make sure screws are tight.
- There should be no spaces between the mattress and the headboard, walls, or other surfaces that could trap your toddler.
- Place the headboard (rather than the side of the bed) against the wall. This position prevents your toddler from becoming trapped between the bed and a wall.
- Choose a bed that is low to the floor. Put protection on the floor (carpet, quilts, and pillows) in case your toddler falls out of bed.
- Use safety rails that you can attach on all sides.
- Your toddler is safest in the lower bunk of a bunk bed set.