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Using a wahakura
A wahakura is a sleep device for pēpi woven from harakeke (flax) and fitted with a mattress. This provides pēpi their own safe sleep space while bed-sharing, letting mother and pēpi be close, something whānau value highly.
It helps to protect pēpi against accidental suffocation caused by a parent or caregiver rolling onto their baby, or the baby being smothered by blankets.
The process of making a wahakura connects whānau to traditional Māori matauranga (knowledge) and tikanga. There are various types of wahakura - waikawa and whiri. Wahakura raranga (plaiting) and whiri (braiding) weaving techniques ensure it stays strong, the base stays flat, and so that the sides won’t collapse.
Guidelines for wahakura change according to the region where they’re made.
You’ll need a 20-25mm foam mattress with a cotton cover, and you need to make sure there are no gaps between the inner wall of the wahakura and the mattress. The National SUDI Prevention Programme's national safe sleep device guidelines (PDF) provides a summary of guidelines for weaving a wahakura.
Using a Pēpi-Pod®
The Pēpi Pod® is made from polypropylene, a food-grade plastic that can be fitted with a mattress and bedding. Like the wahakura, they’re designed so you can share a bed with your baby, while keeping baby safe from accidental suffocation.
Where to get wahakura, Pēpi-Pod® and similar safe sleep devices
Weaving a wahakura is not an easy task and requires a lot of practice. Your local DHB’s safe sleep coordinator may be able to put whānau in touch with reputable weavers who work to safety specifications.
You can buy Pēpi Pod® and similar safe sleep devices on Trademe.
If you’re planning to share your bed with your baby and don’t have a safe sleep device for your pēpi ask your midwife, doctor, or Plunket nurse or Tamariki Ora nurse for help to get one.
Many infant health care (Tamariki Ora) providers will have wahakura/pepi-pods that you can borrow/hire for six months.
If you’re on a low income, you might be able to get help from Work and Income to buy a baby bed. Click the link below and look under 'help with costs for the baby.'