Safe Sleep and SIDS Prevention

If you are a parent, chances are you’ve spent time worrying about SIDS.

I remember the first time my daughter slept through the night. I woke up feeling wonderfully rested and alert. Then I remembered my baby girl and I panicked. SIDS ran through my mind and I prayed she hadn’t stopped breathing during the night. I shot out of bed so fast that the cat went flying and I ran to my daughter’s bedroom. I threw open the door and ran to the side of her crib to find her sleeping peacefully. Right then and there, I made the decision to stop worrying. Of course, I still thought about it occasionally, but I didn’t fear it like I used to. I knew that we were following all of the Health Canada guidelines¹ and she was as safe as she could possibly be in her crib.

My advice to you, is to take every precaution possible, read the guidelines on safe infant sleep and let go of your fear. Enjoy your new baby and stop worrying about SIDS because you’ve done all you can do to prevent it.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy infant (0-12 months of age) during sleep with no medical explanation. SIDS is a very rare occurrence (0.5 per 1,000 live births in Canada), so don’t let worry and fear take hold of you. Since the Back to Sleep Campaign started in 1994, the rate of SIDS has dropped drastically.

There are plenty of things you can do to lower your baby’s risk:

Start prenatal care as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant.

Have a healthy pregnancy – Take prenatal vitamins, eat a healthy diet and don’t smoke or drink alcohol.

Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke – If you, or anyone in your house smokes, change clothes and wash hands and face before holding the baby.

Put your baby to sleep on his back – This can reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 50%

Breastfeed your baby if you can – SIDS rates tend to be lower for breastfeed babies. If you smoke cigarettes, do so immediately after a feed to allow your body time to eliminate the chemicals from your milk. It is better to breastfeed than formula feed, even if you smoke.

Provide a safe sleeping environment – No soft cushions or pillows, bumper pads, loose blankets or stuffed animals in the crib. Make sure the crib or bassinet mattress fits properly into the frame with no gaps where your baby could become trapped.

Never bed-share if you have taken medication that causes drowsiness (primary or side effect), or consumed alcohol or drugs.

Never co-sleep with your baby on the sofa, reclining chair, or anywhere else he could be dropped, suffocated, rolled on or become trapped.

Does bed-sharing increase the risk?

This is a controversial subject. Some experts say bed-sharing can reduce the risk of SIDS, while others claim it can be dangerous for your baby.

While this is a personal decision and one best made by you and your partner, my professional stance on this subject is that a baby is safest in his own crib or bassinet.

Room-sharing is a form of co-sleeping, and not to be confused with bed-sharing. Room-sharing is when the crib or bassinet is in the parent’s room and can even be directly beside the parent’s bed. The baby and the parents do not share a sleep surface. This is preferred by most parents in the beginning for ease of breastfeeding and peace of mind. Bed-sharing is when the baby is sharing a sleep surface with one or both parents. If you choose to share a bed with your baby, make sure you understand how to do it safely.

If you have any questions about safe sleep, please contact me at 250-552-5080 for a free 15-minute consultation.


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Dani Summer

Certified Sleep Sense Consultant