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Growth and Development, Newborn

Safe sleep for baby’s first year

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Research tells us that you can lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and prevent other sleep-related injuries and deaths in babies up to 1 year old by doing these important things:

Put your baby on their back to sleep, every sleep

Always put your baby on their back to sleep for their first year. This lowers their risk of SIDS. Even when your baby can roll over on their own, put them on their back to sleep. If they roll over, you don’t have to move them back.

Back to sleep, tummy to play

When your baby is awake and with you, place them on their tummy to play several times every day. Tummy time helps prevent flat areas on their head. It also helps with your baby’s development and makes their body stronger to be able to roll, sit, and crawl.

​Use a crib, cradle, or bassinet that is free of clutter

A safe crib, cradle, or bassinet helps lower the risk of SIDS and prevents your baby from being trapped, suffocated, or strangled.

A safe crib, cradle, or bassinet has:

  • a firm, flat mattress that’s in good condition and fits snugly into the frame
  • a tight-fitting bottom sheet for the mattress
  • no stuffed animals, toys, pillows, or bumper pad​​s
  • no other items such as heavy blankets, quilts, sheepskins, or positioning devices like wedges or rolls

Health Canada has more information on safety standards for cribs, cradles, and bassinets.

Keep your baby warm, not hot

Babies are safest when the room temperature is comfortable for an adult wearing light clothing. A baby who is too warm is at a higher risk of SIDS. 

If the room is cool, choose a warmer sleeper rather than over-dressing or over-bundling your baby. Babies don’t need extra blankets. 

If you use a blanket, make sure it:

  • is light-weight
  • is firmly tucked under all 3 sides of the mattress
  • reaches only to your baby’s chest

Keep spaces smoke-free and vape-free before and after birth

Help your baby be healthy by not smoking or vaping. Use or exposure to smoking or vaping during and after pregnancy  increases the risk of SIDS.

Make sure no one ever smokes or vapes around your baby. A baby exposed to second-hand smoke or vape both before and after birth is at a higher risk of SIDS.

For help to cut back or quit smoking or vaping, go to Alberta Quits.

Breastfeed your baby

Breastfeeding may lower the risk of SIDS and other illnesses. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of life.

Share a room with your baby

Room-sharing means that your baby sleeps in the same room as you or another person, but on a separate sleep surface, like their own crib, cradle, or bassinet.


  • keeps your baby close and safe
  • supports the bond between you and your baby
  • makes it easier to learn and respond to your baby’s cues
  • makes it easier to feed your baby. At night, if your baby is brought into bed for feeding, they are safer when they are put back in their own crib, cradle, or bassinet after feeding, before you go to sleep.

Don’t share a bed, sofa, or any other sleep surface with your baby

Bed-sharing means that a baby sleeps on the same surface, like a bed or sofa, with another person. This includes a parent, caregiver, child, or even a pet. Bed-sharing increases a baby’s risk of SIDS.

Babies can also fall, be strangled, or suffocate if they are:

  • trapped between a mattress and headboard or footboard
  • wedged against a wall or person
  • tangled in bedding, pillows, or cushions

If you choose to bed-share:

  • never sleep with your baby on a soft or padded surface such as a sofa, upholstered chair, bed with a soft mattress or bedding, or a water-filled or air-filled mattress
  • keep bed covers, blankets, and pillows far away from your baby
  • make sure that you and your partner know when your baby is in bed with you
  • never sleep with your baby if you or your partner:
    • smoke
    • have used alcohol, cannabis, other drugs, or any prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal medicine. These can make you less able to respond to your baby’s needs.
    • are overtired from stress or lack of sleep

If you choose to bed-share, taking all of these steps may reduce some of the risk, but it does not make bed-sharing safe.

Can playpens be used for sleep?

Playpens shouldn’t be used for unsupervised sleep. T​hey don’t meet the same safety requirements as cribs, cradles, and bassinets.

Is it safe for babies to sleep in car seats?

Car seats keep babies safe during travel and shouldn’t be used for sleeping. It’s not safe for babies to sleep in a seated position. Plan ahead. When you get to where you’re going, take your baby out of the car seat and put them on their back to sleep on a safe sleep surface.

To learn more about safe sleep for your baby’s first year, go to

Current as of: June 21, 2023

Author: Healthy Children and Families, Alberta Health Services