Safe Sleep and Your Baby

Updated July 22nd, 2018

Why baby’s sleep space is important

Parents are often surprised to learn that 1-2 infants die unexpectedly in their sleep every month in Manitoba.  This can be due to suffocation, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or other causes. The best prevention is to provide a safe sleep space for your baby for every sleep and nap.

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Follow these six safe sleep tips until your child is one year old:
1. Choose a safe sleep space
  • Choose a crib, cradle or bassinette that meets Canadian safety regulations. The mattress should be the right size, firm, clean and flat. See Health Canada’s Is Your Child Safe? Sleep Time.
  • Other safe sleeping spaces include a sturdy box or carton, a “baby box”, a drawer or laundry basket.  To cover the bottom:
    • cut a piece of firm cardboard that fits the inside of the sleep container
    • wrap a light blanket around the cardboard and tape it to the back
    • place the wrapped cardboard in the container to use as a firm sleep surface
Safety tips:
  • Avoid soft surfaces or bulky bedding.
  • Nothing extra in the crib such as pillows, bumper pads, sheep skin, toys, quilts or sleep wedges.
  • Never let your baby sleep on an adult bed, sofa or armchair or in a car seat. These are unsafe for sleeping.
2. Baby sleeps in room with parent or caregiver
  • It is safest for your baby to sleep in:
    • her own sleep space AND
    • in your room for at least the first 6 months, ideally for the first year.
  • Sharing a bed with your baby (often called bed-sharing or co-bedding) is not recommended as it puts the child at risk of suffocation, SIDS, strangulation and falls. For information on safer bed-sharing, click here.
 3. Place baby on back for every sleep
  • Place baby on her back to sleep for every sleep. That means no sleeping on side or tummy.
4. Avoid overheating
  • Choose one piece sleepers that are the right thickness for the room temperature.
  • If you find the room temperature comfortable, your baby will too.
  • Avoid extra blankets as they can cause overheating and suffocation.
  • If using a sleep sack, choose one with fitted neck and armholes and no hood.
  • If using a blanket,
    • look for one made of light breathable fabric
    • place baby in crib with feet at bottom of crib
    • tuck blankets under baby’s armpits and tuck in firmly on both sides and at bottom end of crib.


5. Breastfeed baby
  • Any amount of breastfeeding can help protect your baby from SIDS.  Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months can lower the risk of SIDS by up to 50%.
  • If you breastfeed your baby in bed, it is safest to return him to the crib for sleep.
6. Keep baby smoke free before & after birth
  • This is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of SIDS. Smoking is responsible for one in three SIDS deaths.
  • Avoid smoking during pregnancy.
  • It is best to keep your home or anywhere your baby sleeps or spends time smoke-free. Exposure to smoking in early infancy increases the risk of SIDS
  • The risk of SIDS increases when the mother smokes; this is even higher when the father also smokes.
  • SIDS risk increases with:
    • the number of smokers in the home
    • the number smokers in the same room as the baby
    • the number of cigarettes smoked
    • and daily hours the baby is exposed to smoke.
  • No smoking at all is best for you and your baby, but lowering the amount of cigarettes you smoke can lower the risk.
  • If you smoke, it is best to do it outside, and then change your clothes and wash your hands before handling your baby.
  • In Manitoba it is illegal to smoke in a car when children under 16 are present.
  • Are you thinking about quitting smoking? Talk to your health care provider or contact Smokers’ Helpline (phone 1-877-513-5333)

SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) How to keep your sleeping baby safe: AAP Policy Explained