Sleep safety for infants and toddlers


We want to keep your child as safe as possible at St. Jude. Using the right bed for her age helps keep your child safe. Read below to find out which bed is best. It also gives other important safety tips.

What bed is best for my child?

If your child is 24 months or less, she will sleep in a crib. The experts at St. Jude believe this is the safest place at her age.

If your child is 25 to 36 months old, a doctor or other St. Jude team member will choose the best bed size. This depends on:

  • How tall your child is,
  • If your child is potty trained, and
  • If your child uses a crib or regular bed at home.

When should I use the side rails on the crib?

Always. The side rails should be up and locked as soon as you put your child in the crib. Keep the side rails up all the time she is in it.

Your child can climb out and fall when a side rail is down. The fall can be serious and even cause death. A child can climb out if you turn your back or walk away for just a second. Children, even babies, move fast! So, always keep the side rails up.

Safe sleeping for babies and toddlers

Here are some other important tips for safe sleeping.

  • Use a crib until your child can pull herself up to standing. She should also be 3 feet tall or more.
  • Take toys, pillows, and blankets out of the crib when you put your child in. They could cover your child’s face and stop her breathing.
  • Always keep your baby’s face uncovered during sleep.
  • Use clothing instead of blankets to keep your child warm in bed. If you are not sure what your child should wear, ask a nurse or doctor.
  • If you do use a blanket, put your child’s feet at the foot of the crib. Tuck a thin blanket around the crib mattress. The blanket should only come up to your child’s chest.

A crib is best for your child because:

  • The mattresses are harder than adult mattresses. This lowers the chance your child will smother in the mattress. “Smother” means to die when something covers your mouth and nose. This stops breathing.
  • Your child is less likely to fall out of bed.

St. Jude baby and toddler sleep policy

  • If your child needs to be on a monitor or other medical equipment, she must sleep alone in a crib or bed.
  • Your child may not sleep on a bedside chair, sofa, or floor mattress.
  • Your child’s immune system might be weaker in the hospital. She should sleep alone to lower the risk of getting an infection. (See “Do you know… How to prevent infection.”)

How can I help my child learn to sleep alone?

  • Put your child in the crib when she is sleepy, but still awake. She will learn to go back to sleep on her own.
  • Keep night feedings short and boring. Avoid playing with your child. This gets her too excited to go back to sleep easily.
  • Do the same routine every night. For example, it might be bath, massage, rocking, stories, or soft music. Put your child in the crib while she is sleepy but not asleep yet. Say good night and leave the room.
  • Your child might cry for a moment. But after she gets used to the routine, she will calm down and go to sleep quickly.
  • If your child is still crying in 5–10 minutes, go in and comfort her. Let her know you are close by. Stay just one (1) or 2 minutes. Stroking her body or legs slowly can help calm your child.
  • When your child wakes up at night, give her a few minutes to go back to sleep by herself. If she keeps crying, go in and comfort her. But do not bring her to your bed.


If you have questions or concerns about sleep safety for babies and toddlers at St. Jude, please talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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