Safe Sleep Day raises awareness of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy - SUDI

23 November 2017

Very sadly around 44 babies are lost every year in New Zealand as a result of SUDI. To help promote safe sleep messages and prevent SUDI, national Safe Sleep Day is being held on Friday 1 December.

Beki Madden, Taranaki DHB Maternity Unit’s safe sleep champion said, “Safe Sleep Day raises awareness of the things parents can do to ensure their baby has the safest sleep possible, and aims to reduce the number of babies that die as a result of SUDI in Aotearoa.”

SUDI is a term which refers to the unexpected death of an infant through unintentional suffocation and previously unidentified illnesses in the babies affected. Babies at risk of SUDI are those that are exposed to smoking and/or use of drugs or alcohol (especially in pregnancy), babies born before 37 weeks or weighing less than 2500gms (5lb 8oz).

“These babies are more vulnerable to SUDI as they have received less oxygen during pregnancy which then affects the area of the baby’s brain that controls breathing once they are born,” said Ms Madden.

Safe sleep steps that parents/caregivers can follow include:

  • Placing baby in their own bed. If co-sleeping is desired, consider placing baby safely in a wahakura (woven bassinet for infants) or pepi pod.
  • Eliminate smoking during pregnancy and protect baby with a smokefree whānau, whare and environment. The wider whānau can also provide support to mum by also becoming smokefree.
  • Position baby flat on their back to sleep.
  • Encourage and support mum to breastfeed where possible.

It is not safe for a baby to sleep in or on an adult bed, on couches, chairs or in other places that run a high risk of accidental suffocation. It is safest for a baby to sleep in its own separate, protected space. Pepi pods and wahakura provide this while still being able to be close to parents in the home or in a makeshift setting when away from home.

This year Taranaki DHB is promoting safe sleep in the community and thanking those that have supported at-risk families by providing handmade woollen blankets for pepi pod/wahakura.  The DHB has teamed up with Taranaki Health Foundation and are hosting a free Teddy Bear’s Picnic at Brooklands Zoo at 11am.

All parents & children and the blanket makers are welcome. Some food and refreshments will be provided, however parents are also encouraged to bring snacks for their children.


For more information please call:

Greer Lean
Communications Advisor
027 801 9084


Last updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017

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