Babies can suffer from sudden unexpected death (SUDI), so it's important that pēpi have a safe place to sleep.

Settling a young baby to sleep can be one of the first parenting challenges. Conflicting advice can come from all directions, and a family’s cultural practices will also influence how and where their babies sleep.

Ask whānau:

  • How is pēpi sleeping?
  • What about the parents – are you managing to get enough sleep?

What might help you to get more sleep?

Sudden unexpected death in infancy

Sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) rates are declining in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Pat Tuohy from the Ministry of Health attributes the reduction to “the concerted efforts of health professionals and communities sharing advice about how to keep babies safe while sleeping and making sure that every baby has a safe place to sleep”.

Ask whānau:

  • Do you know what SUDI stands for?
  • Have you been given any information about SUDI?
  • What do you know about making baby’s sleeping place safe?
  • What are the factors that can make a baby more vulnerable and at risk of SUDI?

Keeping baby safe

In the booklet Te Pihinga 1 (page 17), it says that setting up safe places for pēpi to sleep is part of providing a structured and secure world for baby.

  • What have you done about making a safe sleeping place for baby?
  • Where does baby sleep?
  • Why do you think it’s suggested that a baby sleeps ‘face up and face clear’?
  • Are you keeping a smokefree environment around baby?

If parents are sleeping with baby in bed with them, discuss some of the ways this can make pēpi more vulnerable to SUDI. Find out if parents know about the Pēpi-Pod® or wahakura – whichever is appropriate for the whānau.

Discuss how you can access one to make sure their baby is safe when asleep.

Affirm what parents are doing to keep baby’s sleeping space safe. Go over the list below and talk through any points that parents may be unsure about.

  • For the first 6 months, babies are safest when sleeping in their own cot or bassinet in the same room as their parents.
  • If parents choose to sleep in bed with their baby, their baby should be placed in their own bed beside the parents, for example, in a Pēpi-Pod® or wahakura.
  • It is never safe to put a baby to sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair.
  • Put babies on their backs to sleep so they can breathe unobstructed, and make sure there’s no bedding nearby that might cover their faces.
  • Remove suffocation hazards such as pillows, soft toys or loose blankets.
  • Ensure there are no gaps in their bed where they might become wedged.
  • Make sure babies live in a smokefree environment.
  • Ensure the person looking after baby is sober and alert to baby’s needs.

Helpful resources for whānau