Keep Sleeping Babies Safe

July 14, 2014

Huron County, ON – As a public health nurse, Josée Cayer has visited many new parents and infants over her 23 years with the Huron County Health Unit. She’s passionate about parents having the most current information about keeping babies healthy and safe.

Cayer says most parents know that the safest position for their baby is to sleep on their back in a safety-approved crib, cradle or bassinet. “New guidelines recommend providing a safe sleep environment with a firm mattress and no pillows, comforters, quilts or bumper pads. There should be nothing in the sleep environment except a firm mattress and fitted sheet. Extra blankets, soft toys, sleep positioners and other products may add to the risk of suffocation, overheating and SIDS. It’s also recommended for a baby to be placed next to the parents’ bed in their own crib, cradle or bassinet for the first six months of life. This helps to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).”

Cayer also advises:

      • Babies shouldn’t be left to sleep in baby swings, bouncers, strollers and car seats, especially if they’re not supervised. When a baby sleeps in this sitting position, his heavy head can fall forward and it makes it more difficult for him to breathe.
      • Move babies to a safe flat position to sleep or when parents arrive at their destination when using a car seat.
      • Playpens are not designed or tested for safe sleep so they can’t be used for unsupervised sleep. They may be advertised as portable cribs but they don’t meet the same safety requirements as cribs, cradles or bassinets.
      • It’s very important to always place babies on their back for every sleep. If a baby is placed on his tummy, unsupervised, for even just a short time, he is at a much higher risk for SIDS. Family, friends and caregivers may need to be reminded to always place baby on his back for sleep. Supervised tummy time is important to develop healthy muscles and to prevent flat head.
      • Babies are safest when they sleep in a fitted one-piece sleeper that makes them comfortable at room temperature and prevents overheating. Babies don’t need extra blankets because their head can become covered, which can cause them to overheat. If a blanket is needed, a thin, lightweight and breathable blanket may be used.
      • Parents may choose to use a sleep sack which must be the appropriate size for the baby to avoid the risk of the infant slipping in the sack. Sleep sacks must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
      • Swaddling can also pose a risk because babies can overheat. If the blanket becomes unwrapped, the loose bedding can cover the baby’s face. Studies have shown that swaddling can also increase the risk of respiratory infections and hip problems if the blanket is wrapped too tightly and lower baby’s arousal level. Many hospitals no longer endorse swaddling because there is currently no evidence on the safe way to swaddle an infant.

Cayer says, “Parents may be worried that their baby will choke on their own fluids in the back position. Actually, it’s better for babies to lay on their back because there’s a protective mechanism that keeps their airway clear.”

The new guidelines were developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. They also recommend that parents provide a smoke-free environment for their baby and breastfeed at least for the first year of life.


…Creating Healthy Communities Together…


Our media contact is: Sharon Brown, Huron County Health Unit, 519.482.3416 or toll-free 1.877.837.6143 ext. 2224

Our spokesperson is: Josée Cayer, Public Health Nurse. Our media contact will connect you to our spokesperson on this topic.


For more information contact:

Susan Cronin, County Clerk
519.524.8394 (ext 3257)