Sleep safe baby

Plunket is encouraged by a recent slight decline in the number of babies dying suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Any decline is good news. We believe the years of safe sleep information promoted by Plunket and other community organisations are taking hold. Families are increasingly aware of how important it is to breastfeed their babies, not to smoke around their babies, keep their faces clear, make sure their babies sleep on their backs, and how risky it can be to sleep with your baby, ” said Plunket Clinical Advisory Manager Karen Magrath.

Today is Safe Sleep Day. The latest infant mortality statistics uses data from 2008-2012. It shows the number of SUDI deaths (Sudden Unexplained Death of an Infant) dropped from 61 in 2008 to 38 in 2012. [figures from NZ Mortality Review Report 2013]

“There will be a mix of reasons why fewer babies are dying. Fewer people are smoking and fewer are smoking in their cars and homes. There is also a growing use of portable safe sleep beds (Pēpi-Pods and wahakura - flax baskets). Most importantly, families tell us they are getting a consistent message about how to keep their babies safe while they are sleeping.”

Plunket says this is good news - but that we need to all stay focused, and no one can afford to become complacent.

“We still have a very high rate of SUDI in New Zealand compared with other developed countries and this rate is particularly high among Māori. Six of every ten babies who die suddenly and unexpectedly are Māori. In the Hutt Valley – it is almost nine in every ten babies.”

“Families and community agencies need to keep working together to prevent as many SUDI deaths as we can, by making sure every sleep is a safe sleep. We can do this in a wide range of ways, from supporting people to quit smoking, through to raising funds to make sure the most vulnerable families have access to baby sleeping pods and the safe sleep education that is provided with them”

Last year, in response to the very high death rate among Māori babies in Lower Hutt, Nāku Ēnei Tamariki based at Kōkiri Marae and Plunket Area Manager Tina Syme joined forces. After consulting the community, they decided to raise funds to provide Pēpi-Pods and safe sleep information and support to local at-risk families. So far Plunket has raised enough funds to help 180 families this way, with plans to source funding to support at least another 100. Pēpi-Pods cost $100 each.

“Around the country, families are responding very positively to the community agencies and DHBs who are providing the safe sleep pods and education. We very hopeful, that over time, it will help further reduce the number of babies who die suddenly and unexpectedly,” said Karen Magrath. “Today, on Safe Sleep Day, we’re calling on families to make sure every sleep is a safe sleep.”

For more information contact:

Jen Riches | Media Manager | 021 405 842 |

About Plunket

For over a century Plunket has supported New Zealand parents to nurture healthy, happy kiwi babies.

Plunket is a not-for-profit organisation and is New Zealand’s largest provider of services to support the health and development of children under five.

Plunket is dedicated to working with parents and communities to ensure that New Zealand children get the best start in life. Plunket’s services help families nationwide, through over 300 branches, mobile clinics and a free phone service PlunketLine, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (0800 933 922).

Plunket services are available free to families in New Zealand with children aged 0 to 5. As registered nurses with a postgraduate qualification, Plunket nurses are able to offer high standards of expertise and a range of services to families.

For more information visit

About BNZ – Principal Sponsor

Bank of New Zealand is proud to work hand in hand with Plunket to bring young New Zealand families support when they need it most.

BNZ is proud to have been a part of New Zealand since 1861 and looks forward to supporting another organisation that has been integral to our country's upbringing.

Tags: 0 Comments Posted by Jen Riches on 5 December 2014

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