Plunket encourages whānau to make every day a safe sleep day

Plunket is proud to support the national Safe Sleep initiative for whānau this Safe Sleep Day, 1 December.

Plunket’s National Advisor for Māori Health, Zoe Tipa, says Safe Sleep Day is a national campaign focused on promoting safe sleep practices for babies, so that every sleep is a safe sleep.

“Every year in New Zealand, more than 40 babies die from Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI – which includes SIDS or cot death) and it is preventable.”

Although the SUDI rates have reduced significantly over the last decades they have not fallen equitably across the whole population, with Maori babies nearly seven times more likely, and Pacific babies are nearly four times more likely, to die from SUDI.  

“Babies spend a lot of time sleeping so it’s really important that parents and whānau everywhere are aware of the things they can do to help reduce the risks of SUDI.”

“Ensuring every baby has a safe sleep, every time they sleep, will dramatically reduce the number of SUDI cases in New Zealand.”

Plunket shares safe sleep messages with whānau year round through its Well Child Tamariki Ora service. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that babies are safe when they sleep, a view that is supported by Safe Sleep Day coordinators, Hāpai Te Hauora.

“Communities need to come together to support parents to incorporate safe sleep practices and in this spirit we celebrate this important day with our colleagues at Plunket.” said Lance Norman CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora.

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching Plunket also wants to remind parents to keep up their safe sleep practices while travelling or at family occasions.

“Research tells us that some families have experienced SUDI when their baby was not sleeping in their usual place of sleep or was staying away from their usual home. So it’s important to ensure that baby has a safe sleep space wherever they are and that other people who are looking after babies are familiar with safe sleep practices” says Tipa.

For more information about Safe Sleep Day events in your area visit

How you can help to protect your baby

The risk of SUDI (including SIDS and cot death) for all babies in all cultures, at all times, can be reduced by:

  • Ensuring your baby sleeps alone in their own bed for every sleep, preferably in the same room as their parent or caregiver. This is especially important if your baby was premature, born small or if there is a smoker in the household.
  • For parents who choose to bring their babies into their bed, the use of sturdy plastic pepipods and flax wahakura (woven bassinet for infants) are a safer option.
  • Ensuring your baby lies flat, level and on their back with their face up. Baby’s breathing works best in this position.
  • Ensuring your baby’s face is clear of obstructions, such as pillows, bedding and toys. Don’t put baby down on soft surfaces such as a beanbag or couch where they can roll into a gap or ‘pocket’ and suffocate.
  • Ensuring there are no gaps between the mattress and their bed.
  • Removing any ribbons, strings, cords etc from bedding and clothing.  Make sure baby’s bed (cot, bassinette, wahakura or pepipod) is away from windows, curtains and blind cords to avoid strangulation.
  • Eliminating smoking in pregnancy and protecting baby with a smokefree whānau, whare and waka. The wider whānau can also provide support to mum by also becoming smokefree.
  • Encouraging and supporting mama to breastfeed – breastmilk is the best food for your baby.

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About Plunket’s support of Safe Sleep Day  

  • On Safe Sleep Day, and every day, Plunket promotes safe sleep message to whānau in their homes and communities as part of the Tamariki Ora Well Child service.
  • Our experience is that preventing SUDI is not only about providing advice, but ensuring that our frontline health workers build a relationship of trust with families to help them overcome barriers to safe sleep – for example, recognising that a number of factors can influence a family’s decision to sleep with their baby.
  • Families can find out where to get a wahakura or pepi-pod locally by connecting with their local Plunket nurse or Kaiawhina.


1 December 2017

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