Baby crib basics

When it comes to crib bedding, less is more.

By Susan Spicer
Baby crib basics

Your baby’s crib looks so cozy with its matching quilt and bumper pads. However, according to Health Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), that coordinated bedding has to go for the sake of crib safety.

And as for those adorable stuffed animals that have begun to populate your baby’s nursery? They need to stay out of the crib too.

According to the CPS and Health Canada, for the first six months of life the safest place for your baby to sleep is on her back, in a crib that meets current safety standards, in your room.These measures lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The CPS also recommends that babies sleep in an uncluttered crib without heavy or puffy bedding. Why? Soft materials can cause suffocation if baby’s face gets jammed against them, obstructing her airway, or increase the risk of SIDS by trapping stale air around the baby.

But if you put your baby in a crib without blankets or bumper pads, how can you make sure she’s both safe and warm? Read on for more cribs safety tips:


The CPS recommends babies sleep on a firm, flat surface with only a light blanket. Dress your baby in a sleeper if you’re concerned about her getting cold.


BJ Campbell found swaddling, as she was taught in the hospital, worked well with her daughter in the early months. (For a video on how to swaddle your baby, check out But around three months, Campbell’s daughter starting to wriggle out of the swaddle, so Campbell opted for a sleep sack (a zip-up bag that baby wears like a vest, with holes for the arms and neck). The drawback with zippered sleep sacks is that they need to fit properly, and that means you may need several throughout the first year. As for the crib itself, make sure it meets Health Canada’s crib safety standards, which can be found by going to their website,, and searching “crib safety.”

Bumper pads

Between 1987 and 2001, 23 incidents involving bumper pads were reported to Health Canada, including one strangulation death, one suffocation death and three near-suffocations. Banning these items is largely preventive: The researchers concluded that the bumper pads didn’t do any good and while injuries or deaths related to their use were rare, they were preventable by eliminating the pads.

The researchers also voiced the concern that that bumper pads may impede the flow of fresh air to the baby, causing her to breath carbon dioxide.

However, it’s worth noting that bumper pads are a crib safety concern primarily for younger babies. “After six months, it’s pretty clear that the risk of a baby getting trapped in a bumper pad is extremely unlikely, as long as it’s properly installed with all ties securely fastened and loose ends out of reach,” says Denis Leduc, associate professor of paediatrics at McGill University in Montreal and past president of the CPS. “A six-month-old who can roll from tummy to back has the head control and the neck muscles to be able to move away from the bumper pad.”


Pam Balicsak used bumper pads when her daughter Alise was six months old because Alise moved around so much that she would hit her head; the bumper pads also stopped her from waking up. Some parents have opted to use “breathable” mesh bumper pads, which are designed to allow the free flow of fresh air.

Minimizing the risk of SIDS

Since the implementation of the Back to Sleep campaign, the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has declined significantly. Babies should always be placed on their back to sleep until they can roll over on their own and choose their own sleep position.

Recent research also shows that maternal smoking during pregnancy or exposure to second-hand smoke during infancy raises the risk of SIDS. Don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.

This article was originally published on Oct 05, 2012

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