Keeping Your Baby Safe
Keeping your baby safe includes having a safe home, choosing safe baby equipment, and knowing how to keep your baby safe.
Your baby will sleep a lot in the first month. These tips will help your baby sleep safely. They may protect your baby from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib, cradle or bassinet beside your bed. It is not safe for your baby to sleep on a couch, waterbed, or in a bed with another adult or child. See page 107 for information crib safety.
- Lay your baby on her or his back to sleep, not on the tummy or on the side.
- Remove pillows, comforters, quilts, toys, stuffed animals, bumper pads, plastics, and mattress wrapping from the crib.
- Use a firm mattress and a fitted sheet.
- Keep your baby warm but not hot. If your baby is sweating, this means your baby is too hot.
- Step outside to smoke. Ask friends and family not to smoke in your home. Keep smokey clothes away from baby.
- Breastfeed/chestfeed your baby.
- Keep emergency phone numbers near your phone.
Safe Sleep for Your Baby
Is Your Child Safe? Sleep Time
If you borrow baby furniture or equipment, make sure it is safe. Health Canada has information on the safety of baby products. Go to www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/reports-publications/consumer-education/your-child-safe/sleep-time.html or call 1-866-662-0666. The Canadian Safety Standards Association (CSA) regulates some types of baby furniture and equipment. The CSA symbol shows that the equipment is safe for use in Canada.
- Not be used for unsupervised sleep.
- Be in good repair.
- Have a sturdy floor with a thin foam pad.
- Have secure hinges that cannot pinch
- Have sides made of very fine mesh with no rips.
- Be made after 1986 and must not be a drop side crib, prohibited since 2016.
- Be put together carefully. Follow the instructions.
- Be sturdy. Make sure the crib is built with screws and bolts, not with hooks or clamps.
- Have a secure support system for the mattress.
- Have a firm mattress that fits snuggly. The mattress is too small for the crib if you can fit more than 2 fingers between the mattress and the side of the crib.
- Have no pillows, toys, or bumper pads in them.
- Baby swings, bouncers, strollers and car seats are not for unsupervised sleep. Sleeping in a sitting position can cause your baby’s head to fall forward which can make it hard for your baby to breathe. For this reason, it is important to move your baby to a crib, cradle, or bassinet to sleep, or when you arrive at your destination.
Baby Seats must
- Have a wide and sturdy base.
- Have safety straps.
- Have a non-slip base.
- Always be set down on the floor, never on a table.
High Chairs must
- Be far away from the stove and from kitchen counters.
- Have a wide and sturdy base.
- Have a safety belt.
- Have no sharp edges or parts on the tray and the back of the chair.
- Must be sturdy.
- Must have brakes that work.
- Should be the right size for your child’s height and weight.
- Do not carry extra children in the stroller.
- Make sure to use the belt system.
- Do not use pillows or blankets as padding.
No walkers are safe. They are banned in Canada because they are not safe.
Moss Bag and Cradle Board
The moss bag has many uses. It helps in the healthy development of First Nations children. The pregnant woman usually creates a moss bag while the baby is growing in the womb. While she is making the moss bag she is thinking positive thoughts about her baby and putting all her good wishes for the baby into the creation of the moss bag. The moss bag gives the feeling of security felt in the womb.
Creating the moss bag strengthens the bond between the mother and the unborn child. It puts positive energy into the bag. This protects and nurtures the baby while they are snuggled inside. The moss bag gets its name from a bag with moss in it. Before the days of cloth and disposable diapers First Nations people used moss bags made out of animal hide. Spagnum Moss was placed between the baby’s legs and all around the bottom. When the baby peed, the moss would absorb the urine and not cause irritation to the skin. The baby was taken out and fresh moss was then placed in the bag again.
Today, we place our baby in the moss bag with their diaper on. There is no need for moss, but placing the baby in the bag is still beneficial. When a baby is wrapped in a moss bag they become calm. By securing their arms, legs, and full body, they are comforted. When the baby is wrapped snug in the moss bag we then can place the baby into a cradle board.
We place our babies in a cradle board (also called a Tikanagan in Algonquin/Cree/Anishinaabe languages) after they have been wrapped in a moss bag. We place the baby inside the moss bag and then attach and secure the bag to the cradle board. The board secures the baby and creates a feeling of safety, like being in the womb. It relaxes the baby, allowing them to sleep or to watch quietly what is going on around them.
A cradle board is a bonding tool that keeps babies close to their mothers. The board allows the baby to develop in a healthy way. They have a chance to use their eyes more. They use other senses to explore the environment around them when they are snuggled and wrapped securely and are unable to use their hands. Their sense of sight and hearing sharpen early. Also by looking around, the baby has to use his/her brain to try to figure out what they are seeing.
Children brought up on a cradle board tend to wait and look over situations before reacting. Babies do not spend all of their time in a cradle board, and most parents see when their babies are ready to get out of the cradle board. Cradle boards are decorated with designs and special items so that the child’s spirit will be happy and protected. Great care goes into creating a cradle board. This reflects the great care for the baby.
There are teachings that go with the use of a moss bag and/or the cradleboard.Ask a knowledge keeper or an Elder for a teaching.
Information for parents on car seats to reduce children’s injuries and deaths.
Health Canada Consumer Product Safety
Is Your Child Safe?
If your baby was born at a hospital or a birthing centre, the nurses will check that you have a baby car seat before you go home, however you must know how to use it safely.
- Check the car seat to make sure it has a label showing that it meets the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS).
- Check the car seat’s label to make sure it is less than 10 years old.
- A car seat is not safe if it was in a car crash or dropped from a height of 1 metre (3 feet) or more.
- Make sure the car seat comes with instructions and that it has all of its parts. Call the company that makes the car seat if something is missing.
- Make sure the car seat does not have a safety problem. Call Transport Canada at 1-800-333-0371 to find out.
Make sure the car seat is in good condition:
- The plastic has no cracks or chips.
- The frame is not warped, rusted, or has broken rivets.
- The harness straps are not cut, frayed, or have broken stitches.
- The seat padding is not ripped.
- All the harness buckles work properly.
Information about choosing and installing car seats.
Information about safety in the car for children.
Using a car seat
Car seats for babies must face the back of the vehicle. When your baby has reached a certain age, weight, or height, you may need to use another car seat. Read the instructions to find out how to use your car seat. Check to see if there is a car seat clinic in your community to help you learn how to use your car seat safely.
Ask your midwife, nurse practitioner, nurse, or doctor for information.
- Make sure the car seat fits well in your vehicle.
- The safest place for the car seat is in the middle of the back seat of the vehicle.
- The harness straps and buckles are supposed to be snug around your baby. No more than one finger should fit between the harness strap and baby’s collar bone.
- The chest clip should be at level of your baby’s armpit.
- Read the instructions for your car seat to find out how to position the carry handle.
When your baby comes home, here are some important safety tips:
- Never leave your baby unsupervised, except in a crib, cradle, or bassinet that meets current Canadian regulations.
- Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, at naptime and night time.
- Always support your baby’s head. Your baby’s neck muscles are weak.
- When changing your baby’s diapers or clothes, or bathing your baby, always keep one hand on your baby at all times. Do not turn away or leave the room.
- Never leave your baby alone in a bathtub.
- Test the water before you put your baby in the bath. It should feel warm, not hot. Test the water temperature on your wrist or elbow.
- Do not prop a bottle in your baby’s mouth. Your baby could choke. This also puts baby at risk for problems like early dental caries and aspiration infection.
- Be sure toys are sturdy and washable with no small parts.
- Keep small objects out of your baby’s reach.
- Tap water should be no hotter than 49°C (120°F). Water heaters can be adjusted in your home to be safer
- Never hold your baby when you are drinking something hot, like tea or coffee, or cooking.
- Avoid smoking near your baby. Smoke outside, away from your baby. Ask friends and family to smoke outside.
- Keep emergency phone numbers where you can see them quickly.
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and a fire extinguisher in your home.
The best way to keep your baby safe is to stay close to your baby.
If your baby is crying or fussy:
- Try feeding your baby.
- Check to see if your baby needs a clean diaper.
- Check to see if your baby is too hot or cold.
- Carry or gently rock your baby.
- Take your baby to a quiet room and turn off the lights.
- Softly sing or talk to your baby.
- Read to your baby.
- Give your baby a warm bath or massage.
- Show your baby bright colourful objects.
- Take your baby for a walk outside.
Some babies cry more than others. Sometimes nothing you do will calm your baby. If you are feeling upset because your baby won’t stop crying:
- Put your baby in the crib and leave the room.
- Ask someone to hold your baby while you take a break.
- Call a friend, family member, or someone you trust to talk about your feelings.
Never shake a baby or child.
This can cause brain damage or death.
It’s okay to walk away.
If your baby is crying and you are very frustrated, it’s okay to put your baby in a safe place and take a break for 10 minutes to calm yourself down.
It is important to calm yourself before trying to calm your baby. If your baby continues to cry, get medical advice. Your baby may be sick or hurt.