Every year far too many New Zealand babies die suddenly during their sleep. Many of these deaths can be prevented.

What is safe sleeping?

SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) is a term which refers to the unexpected death of an infant through unintentional suffocation and previously unidentified illnesses in the babies affected. Currently approximately 44 babies are lost every year as a result of SUDI.

SUDI is preventable and the risk factors for our babies can be significantly reduced. ‘PEPE’ is a framework developed by SUDI prevention advocates. It is based on the best available evidence about how to prevent SUDI:

Place baby in their own baby bed in the same room as their parent or caregiver.  

Eliminate smoking in pregnancy & protect baby with a smokefree home.

Position baby flat on their back to sleep – face clear of bedding.

Encourage & support breastfeeding and gentle handling of baby.

Bedding and clothing

Use bedding and clothing with natural fibers, place baby in more than layer than yourself. Keep the room 18 degrees minimum and used sleep sacks rather than blankets overnight. Sleep sacks are brilliant, a great way to keep baby warm and reduce the need for lots of blankets.

Safe sleeping in bed.

You can sleep baby safely in a wahakura (woven bassinet for infants) or pēpi pod to protect vulnerable babies from accidental suffocation. Every sleep needs to be a safe sleep, whether it be in a cot, pēpi pod or wahakura

Don’t let baby sleep in their car seat for long periods.

“I think the biggest thing is the not leaving babies sleeping in capsules” says Claire McGowan who runs the non-profit organisation ‘Cheeks In Seats’. “We want to ensure babies sleep flat and car seats put them into an unnatural position. Where possible when travelling or using a car seat babies should be taken out and laid flat to kick around/stretch out for a good 20-30 minutes before being put back into their seat”.

Sleeping in a cot.

“My big points are sleeping on their back and sleeping in their own bassinet or cot” states Cherie Richards from ‘Just Love Sleep’. “Smoke free environment, firm flat mattress, empty cot (no pillows, toys, loose bedding) and keep them in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months”.

Help with becoming smoke free.

A smoke free environment is so important for baby. If you would like help to quit smoking or further information about quitting smoking during pregnancy please visit Quitline.

 National Safe Sleep day on December 7 2018 is an event which empowers our communities and organisations across Aotearoa to promote safe sleeping practices and reduce the SUDI rate in our communities.