Safe sleep

Every year too many New Zealand babies die suddenly during sleep. Many of these deaths can be prevented.

Title: Your Child: Safe Sleep.  Episode 13 of 15.

Title: Raukura & Aaron’s Whānau

[Shots of Raukura and Aaron’s home.]

Carmen (voice-over): Parents can make sure that every sleep for baby is a safe sleep by having good knowledge and sharing it with their whanau, or anybody else that's going to look after their baby.

[Interview with Carmen.]

Title: Carmen Timu-Parata, Well Child Tamariki Ora Nurse

Carmen: Kia ora koutou. Ko Carmen Timu-Parata. Nō Ngāti Kahungunu. I'm a Well Child / Tamariki Ora Nurse. We're at the home of Raukura and Aaron, and we've also come to see baby Rehua for their Well Child visit and to focus on safe sleep environments.

[Interview with Raukura.]

Raukura: My name's Raukura Maxwell. I'm twenty-eight years old, and just had my first son, and his name is Rehua Rex Randall.

[Shot of Rehua in bed.]

Title: Rehua, 9 weeks old

Raukura (voice-over): Rehua has his own cot in our room, next to our bed.

[Interview with Carmen.]

Carmen: We recommend that baby is in the same room as their parents, up to at least six months of age.

[Interview with Raukura.]

Raukura: We thought it was safer to put him in his own cot next to us. One, because it's closer to us so we can hear him, and two, so he's not sleeping with us.

Raukura (voice-over): Rehua has his own cot in our room, next to our bed.

[Interview with Carmen.]

Carmen: When you are looking for a good sleep space for baby, there might be options – for example a bassinet, maybe a cot. Other options may be a wahakura or a Pēpi-Pod.

[Raukura places a mattress in a cot.]

Raukura (voice-over): When me and my partner were talking about where to sleep baby, and what to sleep baby in, we read in our Tamariki Ora book about the best kind of mattress to have. So having a firm mattress that fit the bassinet or the cot, that was really important to us. So we measured up and got new mattresses for both.

[Raukura and Carmen interact with Rehua, who is lying in his cot.]

Carmen (voice-over): It's really important that baby's face is clear of things like extra toys, any bumper pads, pillows, sharp objects or curtain cords.

[Carmen checks the cot.]

Raukura (voice-over): We don't put anything else in the bed but the blanket. We don't use toys or put up mobiles just in case something could fall off and he could swallow it. Even with the bumper, he could suffocate on it. It's just for our peace of mind.

[Raukura demonstrates to Carmen how she puts Rehua to bed.]

Carmen (voice-over): It's really important when baby is sleeping that they're lying on their backs, feet first, at the foot of the bed. Basically, if baby wants to go anywhere or wriggle down, they've got nowhere to go. If you want to go to a party or anything, it's important that you have a safe plan for baby, and that baby has their own safe sleep space, and that whoever is looking after baby, that they're sober when taking care of baby.

[Interview with Carmen.]

Carmen: What we know about breastfeeding is that babies who are breastfed are less likely to die unexpectedly, so it's a really good thing to keep breastfeeding until six months and even beyond that.

[Interview with Raukura.]

Raukura: I chose to breastfeed because it's cheaper and it's free, and it meant that he could get all the colostrum, or what they call "liquid gold".

[Raukura plays with Rehua.]

Carmen (voice-over): For many parents that are getting up for the night feeds, it's really important that you're feeding baby and that you are also placing baby back down in their own bed by themselves, and not in the bed with you. It's really important that wherever baby is the environment is smokefree and they're kept away from any kind of cigarette smoke.

[Interview with Raukura.]

Raukura: My partner and I, we don't smoke, but I have lots of family members who do. So the rule when they walk in our door is, you come in, and if you've had a smoke, wash your hands, wash your face too, and only then can you hold baby. I'm hard on that.

[Raukura wraps Rehua and puts him to bed.]

Carmen (voice-over): One of the most common things to do as a parent or caregiver is to overheat baby by putting lots of clothes on, and that can actually make baby sweat and get quite stressed, so it's important they’re at a comfortable temperature.

Raukura (voice-over): At the moment, it's summer, so it's quite hot in our house. I make sure to just wrap him. We've got a thick wrapping blanket and a thin one. So I put him in a thin one when it's hot at night, and I’ve got a second blanket if I need to.

[Interview with Carmen.]

Carmen: It's really important that every sleep baby has is a safe sleep, and that they actually go back into their own bed by themselves.

Title: Our thanks to the families and health workers who appeared in this video for the Ministry of Health. Find out more about pregnancy and child health on

Visit our pages on keeping baby safe in bed and make sure every sleep is a safe sleep.

Keeping baby safe in bed: the first 6 weeks

Keeping baby safe in bed: 6 weeks to 6 months

Keeping baby safe in bed: 6 to 12 months

There’s no set age at which you should move your child from a cot to a bed, but many children are ready between 18 months and 2 years of age. Find out about Your child’s first bed.

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