Baby equipment safety

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Learn how to effectively keep your baby safe when using baby equipment, including change tables, cribs, strollers, carriers/slings, playpens and more.

Key points

  • Always make sure that the equipment you purchase for you baby meets national safety standards.
  • Make sure that pacifiers and toys are sturdy, will not break apart and have no detachable parts.
  • Baby bath rings or seats are not recommended for use and baby walkers and drop-side cribs are banned in Canada.

Some parents buy just a few essential pieces of equipment for their baby, such as a crib and a stroller. Others purchase the whole kit and caboodle: bassinet, change table, playpen, baby sling or carrier and more. Here are a few safety considerations when choosing equipment for your baby.


Your baby’s crib is one of the most important purchases you will make. If you buy a new crib labelled with the initials of your national safety association, you can be quite confident that it meets national safety requirements. However, you need to be especially diligent about safety concerns if your baby will be using a “previously enjoyed” crib. In Canada, crib safety standards changed in September 1986, so you should only use a crib that was manufactured after that date. Drop-side cribs are banned in Canada. When choosing a crib, make sure it meets the following safety requirements:

  • slats spaced no more than 6 cm (2 3/8 inches) apart, so your baby’s head cannot squeeze through
  • no missing or cracked slats
  • a snugly fitting mattress with no more than one finger width between the edge of the mattress and the side of the crib – gaps between the crib and mattress should be no larger than 3 cm (1 3/16 inches)
  • the part supporting the mattress should be attached permanently to the crib frame
  • corner posts that are no higher than 1.5 mm (1/16 inches), to prevent your baby’s clothing from getting entangled on the posts
  • headboards and footboards that do not have cutouts where your baby’s head can become entrapped
  • screws and bolts that are secure and tightly fastened

Place the crib away from blinds or curtains and ensure cords are out of reach to prevent your baby from becoming entangled in them. When your child reaches 90 cm or about three feet in height, or can climb over the sides of the crib, they should be moved to a bed.

Do not put stuffed toys, pillows, bumper pads, or thick comforters into your baby’s crib. Make sure your baby does not have a bib, necklace, or anything tied around their neck. These items can suffocate your child or become caught on parts of the crib and strangle your child.  

Bassinets and cradles

A bassinet or cradle should have a sturdy bottom, a wide base, and no protruding staples or other hardware that can harm your baby. The mattress should be firm and fit snugly. The legs of the bassinet or cradle should be sturdy and strong. If the legs can fold, they should have locks to prevent folding while in use. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure not to use the bassinet or cradle if your baby is above the height or weight requirement of the device.

Change tables

Change tables need to have safety straps to prevent falls. Choose a table that has easily accessible drawers and shelves. Always strap your baby into the change table and never leave them on the table unattended.


A wooden playpen should have slats spaced no more than 6 cm (2 3/8 inches) apart. If there are staples, they should not be missing or loose.

If you choose a mesh playpen, make sure that the openings in the mesh are no more than 7 mm (~1/4 inches) wide and that there are no tears, holes, or loose threads. The mesh should be securely attached to the floor plate and top rail. Be sure to lock the sides of the playpen securely in place and remove any change table accessory or bassinet attachment before placing your baby in the playpen.

Playpens are not designed for unsupervised sleep. If you use a playpen for sleep temporarily while travelling, be sure to place the playpen on the floor—in the same room that you will be sleeping in—and away from hazards like windows, blind cords, patio doors, lamps, electrical cords and small objects.


Make sure that your baby’s stroller has a wide base to prevent tipping. The brakes should securely lock the wheels. The seat belt should be securely attached to the frame and the buckle should be easy to use. Always use the seat belt when you take your baby out in the stroller.

If your stroller has a shopping basket, make sure it hangs low in the back, directly over the rear wheels, or under the seat for stability. If your stroller does not have a shopping basket, do not hang items on the stroller, as this could cause tipping.


When choosing a pacifier, make sure that its shield is large and firm so it will not fit in your baby’s mouth. The shield should contain ventilation holes so your baby can breathe if it does get into their mouth. Make sure that the pacifier nipple does not have any holes or tears and that the nipple cannot easily break off in your baby’s mouth. Do not attach strings or cords to the pacifier, and never hang a pacifier around your baby’s neck. If you use a pacifier clip, use one with a short ribbon (less than 22 cm [8 1/2 inches]).


Rattles, squeeze toys, and other toys should be removed from your baby’s crib while they sleep, to prevent suffocation. If you do wish to use a toy in the crib while your child is awake, make sure it has no small parts that could be considered a choking hazard and no strings longer than 18 cm (7 inches). Always read and follow all age labels and safety messages. Remove crib gyms when your baby is able to pull or push up on their hands and knees.

When using toys and rattles outside the crib, make sure they are made of sturdy construction and will not break apart easily. Avoid toys and rattles that have small parts that can detach and become lodged in your baby’s throat.

Baby carriers and slings

Using a baby carrier or sling safely depends on the age of your baby and whether they have developed good head control. Always follow the product instructions. Before wearing a carrier or sling, check for wear and tear, and make sure the fastenings are secured tightly.. Also check that the leg openings are small enough to prevent your baby from slipping out, but large enough to prevent chafing.
Be careful when placing your baby in the carrier and removing them. It can help to have someone assist you while you are doing this. While your baby is in the carrier or sling, their positioning is important to ensure they do not fall or suffocate. Follow the product’s instructions and use the CHECK system: 

  • Chin off chest – make sure baby’s chin is not resting on their chest, as this can make it hard for them to breath. 
  • Have your baby in view at all times – check their breathing and temperature often; do not use your jacket or blankets to cover baby’s face while they are in the carrier. 
  • Evenly support their back – keep their back supported and in a neutral position; this includes having their legs straight and not bunched against their chest.
  • Close enough to kiss – while in a carrier or sling that keeps baby on your chest, make sure baby is high enough that you can kiss the top of their head by tipping your head forward. 
  • Keep carrier tight – ensure the carrier/sling is secured properly against you; check your baby often. 

Purchasing a carrier or sling

Choose a carrier or sling that fits you and your baby well according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Check for product recalls from Health Canada and check that your sling or carrier meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) safety standards. 

Do not use a carrier when you are: 

  • jogging, running, biking, or in a vehicle as carriers are not designed to protect your baby during these activities.
  • cooking or carrying hot objects, food, or beverages to avoid burns or scalds. 

Safety considerations for older babies

If your baby is less than four or five months of age, they are still too young for many front-facing baby carriers and high chairs, and they probably will not need gates or a toy chest yet. Safety considerations for these items will become important as your baby gets older.

  • Gates: Make sure that the slats are spaced closely enough that your baby’s head cannot become stuck between them. Also make sure that the gate is strong enough and secured tightly enough to resist the strength of a child. You should choose a gate that's meant for the area in which it will be used, such as a hallway, a doorway, or at the top or bottom of stairs.
  • High chairs: The chair should have a wide, stable base and a tray that locks securely. If this is a folding chair, it needs to have an effective locking device so that the chair will not collapse when in use. Ensure that the chair has an easy-to-use child restraining strap, and that any such straps are separate from the tray itself. When using the chair, always buckle in your baby to prevent them from sliding under the tray and falling or being strangled.
  • Toy boxes: Toy boxes without lids are preferable. If you choose a toy box with a lid, make sure it does not have a latch, which could trap a child inside. A spring-loaded lid is safer than a free-falling lid, to avoid head injuries. Make sure that the toy box has ventilation holes in case your baby gets trapped inside.

Baby-proofing your home 

Other considerations to take include: 

  • Anchor large pieces of furniture to the wall to prevent them from tipping over—this becomes especially important as children grow and become more mobile. 
  • Never place babies in their carriers or car seats on furniture, including change tables, couches or chairs. 
  • Use cord winders to wrap up window blind cords. 
  • Use electric outlet covers over all unused electrical outlets. 
  • Do not hang or use anything in the baby’s space that has a cord over 18 cm (7 inches). This can pose a risk of strangulation. 
  • Ensure a working smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector are present on every floor of your home. 

Baby equipment to avoid

Baby bath rings or seats, baby walkers, and drop-side cribs are not safe for your baby. Baby walkers and drop-side cribs are banned in Canada; it is illegal to import or sell them, even second-hand. If you have one, Health Canada recommends that you destroy it and throw it away so it cannot be used again. 

Used equipment considerations

While many products can be safely purchased second-hand, be sure to check that the product is in good condition with no missing or broken parts. Check if there are labels that explain how the product has been tested for safety, and how the product is designed to be used. 

  • Check for product recalls using Health Canada’s recall website
  • For some products, knowing the history of the product can impact its safety. For example, car seats that have been in collisions should not be reused, and cribs purchased before 2016 may have drop sides, which are now illegal in Canada. 

Find more information on used products, see Government of Canada – Buying second-hand products

Last updated: May 14th 2024