Choosing a safe crib

Choosing the right crib is one of the most important decisions you will make to ensure your baby sleeps safely. Children have been hurt or have died in their cribs because of unsafe designs.

Do not use a crib made before 1986. 

Check the label on your child’s crib to see when the crib was made. Cribs made before 1986 are dangerous. In the last 10 years, 37 children have died because of unsafe cribs. All but one of those cribs was made before 1986.

Use this checklist to examine your crib.

  • Be sure the space between crib bars is no more than six cm (2 3/8 in.) apart.
  • The part supporting the mattress should be attached permanently to the crib frame.
  • The crib shouldn’t have any corner posts that could catch on your child’s clothing.
  • Make sure your crib has no loose, missing or broken parts.

Make sure the crib mattress fits tightly within the crib. 

The mattress in the crib needs to be firm and no more than 15 centimetres (six inches) thick. The mattress must fit tightly against all four sides of the crib. If you can fit more than one finger between the mattress and each side of the crib, then the mattress is too small. Your child can get wedged between the mattress and the side of the crib.

Do not use a crib that does not have a label or is homemade. 

These cribs may not meet current safety standards.

Using your crib safely

The safest place for your baby to sleep or nap is alone in a crib. 

Do not let your baby sleep on an adult bed, couch or any soft surface (either alone or with another person). Soft surfaces increase the risk of suffocation. When you are away from home and the crib, place your baby on the floor to sleep.

Put your baby to sleep in a crib next to your bed for the first six months. 

Close-up of a baby smiling and standing in a crib

Products made for children sleeping in the same bed as the parents are not recommended by Health Canada. These products present a risk of suffocation and entrapment. Instead, use a crib or cradle that meets current safety standards next to your bed.

After placing your baby on their back in the crib, always lock the sides of the crib in the upright position. 

This prevents your child from getting out of, or falling out of, their crib.

Keep your baby’s crib away from windows, as well as curtain or blind cords.

Children can fall out a window or get caught in curtain or blind cords, which are common strangulation hazards to your child. Read more about preventing blind cord strangulations.

Provide a safe crib environment that has no toys or loose bedding (use only a fitted sheet). 

Do not put large stuffed toys, pillows, bumper pads and thick comforters into your baby’s crib. These items, usually used to soften the bed, can suffocate your child. When your baby reaches five months old or can push up on their hands or knees, the toys strung across the crib (like mobiles) should be removed because the items can get caught on parts of the crib and strangle your child.

Make sure your baby doesn’t have a bib, necklace or anything tied around their neck when in the crib. 

These can get caught on parts of the crib and strangle your child.

Move your child into a low bed when they reach 90 cm (35 in.) tall. 

When your child reaches this height, usually around two years of age, they can climb out of their crib. It’s important at this time to switch to a low bed to prevent them from injuring themselves.

bunk bed

Bunk beds

In Canada, more than 300 children are injured due to bunk beds each year. While there are no safety standards for bunk beds in Canada, Health Canada recommends purchasing bunk beds that meet the U.S. standards.

Buy a bunk bed that meets current U.S. standards. Look for an “ASTM F1427–96” label on the box of the product. 

This design will help reduce the chance of your child’s head, neck and limbs from being trapped in the bunk bed. This is especially important for children under six.

Ensure your top bunk bed has guard rails on all four sides, even if the bed is placed against a wall. 

A fall from the top bunk is the most common bunk–bed injury. Children who fall from the top bunk are two times more likely to be admitted to the hospital than children who fall from the lower bunk.

Assemble and use bunk beds as indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Damaged parts, or beds put together incorrectly, can lead to serious injuries such as falls, suffocation, strangulation and entrapment. Ropes or cords attached to the bunk beds can become a strangulation hazard. Check the bed regularly for hazards and damage.

Keep children under six off the top bunk. 

Children under six are the most likely to be injured. They can become trapped in parts of the bed and they are more likely to fall off the top bunk.

Put carpet under the bunk bed. 

Research shows that carpet around bunk beds can decrease the risk of head injury from a fall. Keep the area surrounding bunk bed clear of furniture, toys and other sharp objects.

Sleepwear

Dress children in flame-resistant sleepwear. 

  • Put children to bed in flame-resistant sleepwear, rather than T-shirts and day clothes. Most day clothes, loose-fitting cotton and cotton-blend sleepwear don’t meet the flammability requirements for sleepwear.
  • If you prefer cotton and cotton blends, make sure the sleepwear is a snug-fitting style, such as polo pyjamas or sleepers. Snug-fitting clothing is less likely to catch fire than clothing with flowing skirts, wide sleeves or large ruffles.
  • Research also indicates that sleep sacks can be a safe choice for infants. They are designed to keep infants warm and remove the potential risk of a blanket covering the head.  
Close-up of a girl smiling while sleeping in a bed

Check for product recalls on children’s sleepwear. 

Health Canada – Consumer products and safety website lists products, including children’s sleepwear, which have been recalled by the manufacturer due to concerns with safety. Visit their website or call 1-866-662-0666 for more information on safe sleep for your child, including information on bunk beds and cribs.

Top