Safe Sleep Guide For Baby

Are you wondering where your baby should be sleeping and what they should be wearing to ensure safe sleep? Check out our guide to safe cribs & bedding from The Tot Sleep Expert, Lauren Olson.

baby safely sleeping in a bassinet

Once you become a parent, you’ll often receive a lot of conflicting advice (sometimes unsolicited) on where your baby should sleep and for how long.

While these are personal decisions, the most important questions to consider are: Where should your baby sleep? What’s safe for your baby to sleep in? What are the potential dangers?

To help you find the answers to these questions, we’ll go over:

  • The basics of safe sleeping & SIDS prevention
  • Choosing a safe bassinet or crib
  • Tips for choosing safe baby bedding
  • My non-toxic baby bedding picks

Scroll down to learn more:


The basics of safe sleeping & SIDS prevention


First, let’s talk the basics of safe sleep: the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a crib or bassinet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s standards (CPSC) and does NOT have any of the following: Bumpers, stuffed animals, thick blankets or quilts, infant wedges or pillows.

Nearly half of the infant crib deaths reported each year are suffocations caused by pillows, thick quilts and/or overcrowding in the baby’s sleeping space. To ensure a safe sleep environment, be sure to always place your baby on their back in the crib or bassinet on a tight-fitting, firm, flat mattress.

SIDS Prevention Tips

  • Always put down your baby on their back to sleep, not their side or stomach
  • Dress your baby in temperature regulated fitted clothing
  • Keep your baby in a smoke-free environment
  • Provide a separate and safe sleeping environment for naps & night sleep
  • Share a room with your infant for at least six months to reduce the risk of SIDS
  • Keep your baby’s sleeping area hazard-free – this means no blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals, etc.


Choosing a safe bassinet or crib


If you have inherited a gorgeous antique heirloom crib, you’ll need to make sure it meets today’s standards (meaning that you’ll want to decline any drop-side cribs that were deemed “illegal to sell or resell” by the CPSC in 2010). Other less obvious potential hazards you’ll want to look for when receiving a second-hand crib include: cribs made before 2011 (when safety standards were increased), crib slats that are more than 2 3/8 inches apart, protruding nuts/bolts, or cracked, peeling paint that could possibly contain a lead base.

While you may just think it’s older cribs you should be wary of, you should also look into what your NEW bassinet or crib is made with. At The Tot, we only recommend or use products that pass The Tot Safety Test. This means we’ve examined ingredients lists, looked deep into third-party testing and asked in-depth questions about a product’s composition. Even though there are safety regulations company’s need to follow, a lot of not-so-nice chemicals can still make it into production.

When it comes to a bassinet, crib and mattress, you’ll want to make sure it’s free of chemicals such as:


Lead & Other Heavy Metals

Found in: Paints, dyes and metals used in toys, furniture, gear, clothing, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, and ceramics as well as printed diapers.

Why we avoid it: Exposure to heavy metals can cause nerve damage, learning and behavioral problems, reproductive damage and irreversible brain damage.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCS)

Found in: Paints, furniture, rugs, vinyl flooring, cosmetics, nail polish, air fresheners and cleaning products.

Why we avoid it: Volatile Organic Compounds are suspected human carcinogens that can “off gas” into your environment, essentially polluting the air in your home. Exposure can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and skin problems. Higher concentrations may cause damage to the liver, kidney, or central nervous system.



Found in: Wooden toys and furniture, upholstered furniture, clothing and bedding, air fresheners, paper towels, skincare, baby wipes and more!

Why we avoid it: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and very low levels can irritate and burn the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Those with asthma may have exacerbation of symptoms when exposed to formaldehyde.


Known Harmful Phthalates

Found in: Toys, synthetic clothing, skincare, cosmetics and furniture.

Why we avoid it: Many phthalates are known endocrine disruptors associated with asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity, type II diabetes, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.



Found in: Toys, strollers, furniture, rugs, food packaging, building materials, plastic swimming pools and more!

Why we avoid it: PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride, or vinyl, is an incredibly toxic chemical that is harmful to our bodies and to the environment right from the production phase through to disposal. It contains additives like phthalates, lead, cadmium, organotin that are quite toxic and have been linked to asthma, allergies, reproductive problems and cancer.



PFAS (poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a large family of different chemicals that have been shown to cause developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.


Flame Retardants

Flame retardant chemicals have been linked to endocrine and thyroid disruption, impacts to the immune system, reproductive toxicity, cancer and adverse effects on fetal and child development.


Click here to view the full list of chemicals we avoid and why.


Tips for setting up your bassinet or cribs


  • Once you’ve purchased a crib or bassinet, always be sure to read and follow the directions for set-up, use and care.
  • Be sure to also return the included postcard for possible product recalls.
  • Position any mobiles out of your child’s reach.
  • Place the mattress on the lowest setting once your child is able to stand up.
  • It’s really important to ensure that the mattress is sitting against all four corners and that the hardware is in good condition.


Tips for choosing safe baby bedding


First, start with a mattress, organic if possible, like the Pebble Pure Mattress from Nook Sleep Systems which is filled with Coconut Coir, Natural Latex Foam & Organic Wool and free of toxins often found in non-organic mattresses.

Naturepedic also offers a range of excellent non-toxic mattresses for babies right up to big kids. If you’ve already received a mattress as a gift, covering the mattress with non-toxic waterproof protector, like the cover from Naturepedic can help decrease exposure and is slightly more budget-friendly.


We have a fantastic non-toxic mattress guide by Non-toxic Living Expert, Aida Garcia-Toldeo, here.


Once your baby’s sleeping area is up to par, you’ll want to decorate (the fun part!) with a soft sheet. The sheet you ultimately choose should have a tight fit with no loose corners, and be purely organic or at least 100% cotton. The reason why I suggest organic and natural fibers is because synthetic sheets can cause babies to overheat. And when your cotton isn’t organic, pima or guaranteed to be farmed without chemicals, it can potentially contain pesticides or formaldehyde.


You’re almost set – now it’s time to think about what your baby should wear to sleep.


Just like your sheets, you’ll want to opt for non-synthetic materials and avoid anything sprayed with flame retardants. While many regulations require brands to spray sleepwear so it’s compliant with fire safety, there are plenty of safe options that use organic materials in snug-fitting designs that adhere to fire safety guidelines. Some of the brands I recommend are: HART + LAND, Kyte BABY, and Baby Noomie.

Depending on the season, dress your baby in one extra layer of clothing than what you wear at night, and keep the room temperature at between 68 and 72 degrees.

For example, your child could wear a onesie underneath a cotton muslin swaddle or organic cotton pajamas with a Halo SleepSack on top for the older infants.



Once your baby is rolling, you’ll want to drop your swaddle or talk to your pediatrician about other options.


For more information see my article on How to Dress Baby for Bed.


Non-toxic baby bedding picks


A woman putting a baby in the nuna sena aire travel crib


Below are just a few of my favorite safe baby bedding products available from The Tot!



Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Luxe Plus Ivory Linen


Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Luxe Plus – Ivory Linen






Nuna Sena Aire Mini Travel Crib in Champagne


Nuna Sena Aire Mini Travel Crib 



Available in more colors




Baby Letto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib Natural AW19




Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib w/ Conversion Kit



Available in more colors




MDB Ashbury Convertible Crib


Million Dollar Baby Classic Ashbury 4-in-1 Convertible Crib w/ Conversion Kit



Available in more colors




Nook Sleep Systems Non-Toxic Crib mattress


Nook Sleep Systems Pebble Pure Crib Mattress


Ranging from $419 to $429

Available in more colors




Naturepedic Organic Classic Lightweight 2-Stage Baby Crib and Toddler Mattress


Naturepedic Organic Breathable 2-Stage Baby Crib Mattress






Naturepedic Breathable Crib Protector Pad


Naturepedic Organic Breathable Crib Protector Pad






Coco Beans Field of Dreams Fitted Crib Sheet


Coco Beans Fitted Silk Crib Sheets – Field of Dreams







Malabar Baby Fitted Crib Sheet - Grey Brush Stroke


Malabar Baby Fitted Crib Sheet – Grey Brush Stroke






Olli + Lime XX Fitted Crib Sheet


Olli + Lime XX Fitted Crib Sheet






HART + LAND Organic fitted crib sheet


HART + LAND Organic Fitted Crib Sheet – Stripe






Gooselings Touch the Sky Crib Sheet


Gooselings Touch The Sky Fitted Crib Sheet



Available in more colors and prints




Petit Pehr Happy Days Crib Sheet


Pehr Happy Days Organic Cotton Fitted Crib Sheet






Olli + Lime Black Triangle Crib Sheet

Olli + Lime Triangle Fitted Crib Sheet






Halo Organic Sleepsack Swaddle

Halo Organic SleepSack Swaddle






Kyte BAby Sleep Bag Slate


Kyte BABY Solid Sleep Bag



Available in more colors




HART + LAND Sleep Bag Simple


HART + LAND Baby Bamboo Sleep Bag – Simple Stripe




Available in more colors



Mushie Swaddle Blanket Organic Cotton - Rose Vanilla


Mushie Organic Cotton Swaddle Blanket



Available in more colors





Malabar Baby Organic Swaddle Set - Fly Me To The Moon


Malabar Baby Organic Swaddle – Fly Me To The Moon (Set of 2)



Available in more prints




hart + land baby/toddler pima cotton footed bodysuit pj - bugs


HART + LAND Baby/Toddler Pima Cotton Footed Bodysuit PJ – Bugs




Available in more prints




Baby Noomie Snap Footie in Blue Tie Dye


Baby Noomie Baby Pima Cotton Snap Footie – Tie Dye Blue



Available in more colors





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