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National Safe Sleep Day – make every sleep a safe sleep

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‘Make every sleep a safe sleep’ is Southern DHBs message to parents with young babies on National Safe Sleep Day - Te Rā Mokopuna on Friday (6 December).

Each year approximately 44 babies die in New Zealand as a result of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI), and Southern DHB is reminding parents of safe sleep practices to protect their children and reduce the chance of SUDI.

“Many of these deaths can be prevented through safe sleep practices, a smokefree environment, breastfeeding and immunisation,” says Southern DHB Health Promotion Advisor, Kathleen Eade.

“The aim of this day is to raise awareness about SUDI, with the vision of reducing the rate in which it occurs in our New Zealand families.”

Southern DHB’s Public Health South coordinates the Southern Safe sleep programme* which involves training agencies who work with infants and their whānau to share the ‘Safe Sleep’ and ‘Strong Baby’ messages and offer a Pepi-Pod  (a safe sleep space) for their baby to sleep in for as long as the baby needs it. 

Evidence shows that SUDI affects the most vulnerable infants, with exposure to smoking coupled with co-sleeping the biggest risk factor. Following the ‘Safe Sleep’ and ‘Strong Baby’ messages provided in the programme can decrease the risk of SUDI and provide the baby with the best chance to wake from every sleep.

Safe Sleep                                           Strong Baby

On back                                               Smokefree (in pregnancy and in household)

Own space                                          Breastfed

Face clear                                           Immunised

Carer near                                          Handled gently

Andrea Jerry, Māori Health Te Huinga Tahi Kaiawhina (cultural support) at Southland Hospital has been an integral player in ensuring Southland Māori babies receive a safe sleep space when they are born and says the response she has had with whānau has been excellent since issuing nearly 70 Pepi-Pods since mid-May this year.

“It’s exciting that we are contributing to potentially saving a baby’s life each time a whānau is provided with a Pepi- Pod. It is also a great opportunity to promote the taonga (treasure) of breast feeding and stop smoking referral opportunity to Nga Kete.”

Wahakura (a traditional flax bassinet) will be introduced as another safe sleep option as part of the programme in 2020 for at risk babies.   

For more information on Safe Sleep

  • Speak to your midwife, Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse, doctor or practice nurse
  • Ring PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 
  • Visit the Ministry of Health website
  • Contact the Southern Stop Smoking service - Referral from hospital, GP, health professional or self-referral. Freephone 0800 925242. Email:

*The Safe Sleep programme supports babies that have experienced smoking in pregnancy or in the household, birthweight is <2.5 kg, born < 37 weeks, are of Maori or Pacific descent, the mother is < 24 yrs old or has experienced a previous SUDI.  Other factors such as no available sleep space, intent to bed share and maternal mental health are also taken into account. 

*Photograph of Andrea Jerry, Maori Health Te Huinga Tahi Kaiawhina with a Pepi-pod and wahakura

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