In Canada, between 2015 and 2020, approximately 7 in 10 infants who died suddenly and unexpectedly in their sleep were sleeping on a surface not intended for sleep such as an adult bed, a couch, a playpen, infant chair, car seat or stroller. Sleep-related deaths can happen any time in otherwise healthy babies.
Being a parent or caregiver to a baby, or to multiple babies, can be both rewarding and difficult. It can be even tougher when you are sleep deprived yourself. The guidelines highlighted through Safe Sleep Week are tools to help parents and caregivers make decisions that will help protect their babies and their own health and well-being.
In collaboration with Baby’s Breath Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and Parachute Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are promoting Safe Sleep Week, taking place March 13-17, 2023. Through this year’s theme, Protect Your Baby’s Breath, the Government of Canada aims to increase awareness of product-related threats to breathing during sleep, particularly for babies under four months of age.
Research tells us that the safest place for babies to sleep is in a smoke-free environment on their back, on a firm, flat surface, such as in a crib, cradle or bassinet, that is free of soft items, such as blankets, stuffed animals and crib bumper pads. Manufacturers design baby products, such as strollers, car seats, swings, and bouncer/rocker chairs for play and travel, and not for sleep. Health practitioners advise that sleeping in a seated or semi-reclined position can cause babies’ heads to fall forward and block their airways. If a baby drifts off while playing in a bouncer, a rocker chair or swinging in a swing, it can be tempting to leave them undisturbed. However, it is safest to move them to a safe sleep space, such as on their back in a bassinet or crib.
You can find additional guidance and resources on safe sleep for infants in Health Canada’s Setting up a Safe Nursery for your baby and Safe Sleep on the Go and in PHAC’s Safe Sleep for Your Baby brochure.
For evidence-based information on safe sleep for infants for health care providers, Health Canada, PHAC, the Canadian Pediatric Society and Baby’s Breath Canada have published a Joint Statement on Safe Sleep: Reducing Sudden Infant Deaths in Canada.
For this year’s Safe Sleep Week, protect babies by following Health Canada and PHAC’s safe sleep guidance for every sleep – nighttime, nap time, every time.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.