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An important part of establishing good sleeping habits is the sleep environment — where your child sleeps, the kind of crib or bed, the type of mattress, and so on.

Creating a safe sleep environment will also reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome SIDS , which is when a baby younger than one year of age dies unexpectedly while sleeping. Putting your baby to sleep on his back reduces the risk of SIDS.

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The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that babies under one year of age sleep on their backs in cribs that meet Canadian Government safety standards. Adult beds are not safe for babies. Many large-scale studies have shown that bedsharing can put babies at greater risk for entrapment and suffocation. If you want your baby to be near you during the night, you can put a crib in your room, next to your bed.

Preferably stick to tighter fitting bed clothes such as a baby grow or sleep suit as loose pajamas have the risk of coming loose and suffocating your toddler. Research suggests that, for babies under a year old, those who always use a dummy and babies who never use a dummy may be at lower risk of cot death than babies who usually use a dummy but failed to do so during their last sleep. What must my baby wear while asleep?

This is called cosleeping. Many mothers find that this makes night-time breastfeeding easier.

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  • This type of sleeping arrangement may also further reduce the risk of SIDS. Foam wedges or towel rolls to keep babies on their side should not be used. Infants should never sleep on pillows, air mattresses, waterbeds, cushions, soft materials or loose bedding.

    large baby cot Large baby cot

    Even when you are travelling, your baby must have a safe place to sleep. A baby should sleep in a room that is quiet, dark and at a slightly cool temperature. Keep your baby away from cigarette smoke.

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    Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, and babies who continue to be exposed to smoke after birth are at an increased risk of SIDS. Never nap or sleep with your baby or let your baby sleep alone on a couch, sofa or armchair.

    This increases the risk of suffocation.

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  • Place your baby to sleep on his back on a firm, flat surface. Establish a calming bedtime routine that is consistent and predictable. Try to keep nap times and bedtime the same every day, even on weekends. Set aside 10 min to 30 min to do something special with your baby before bed.

    Allow infants to fall asleep on their own so that they can learn to comfort themselves. Footnotes This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

    May be reproduced without permission and shared with patients and their families. Also available at www.

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