Sudden unexpected death in infancy, also known as SUDI or cot death, is a risk for babies aged under 12 months. Many of these deaths are avoidable; there are many ways parents and caregivers can help keep tamariki safe when they sleep.
Here are our top tips to make sure every sleep is a safe sleep:
1. Put your baby to sleep on their back
Put your baby to sleep on their back near the end of their cot or bassinet so they can’t wriggle down. Keep their head clear of blankets and their cot or bassinet free from toys or other objects they can suffocate on.
If you’re worried about your baby developing a flat head, turn their head to alternate sides with each sleep.
2. Make sure their sleeping area is safe
Ensure your baby’s mattress is firm, flat and fits their cot or bassinet firmly. Check there are no gaps between the mattress and side of the cot or bassinet and use tightly fitted sheets.
Make sure the gaps between your cot bars are no bigger than 50mm–90mm to prevent your baby getting caught between them.
3. Sleep in their own space
It’s safest for baby to sleep in their own cot, bassinet or other baby bed, such as a wahakura. It’s recommended to keep your baby in the same room as you or the person looking after them at night until they are at least 6 months old.
4. Be smokefree
Second-hand smoke can make your baby sick and increases their risk of dying in their sleep. Make your home smokefree – it’s best for baby, best for you and best for your whānau.
5. Have your baby immunised on time
Immunisation helps to keep your baby healthy and strong. Immunisations are free and can be organised through your GP or Well Child provider.
If possible, breastfeed your baby or support mum to breastfeed. Like immunisations, breastfeeding helps to keep your baby healthy and strong which can help them sleep safely through the night. Breast milk also provides nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby.
7. Dress your baby not their bed
In the cooler months, dress your baby in warmer layers rather than adding more blankets to their bed – too many layers can make your baby too hot. A good rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer of clothing than you would wear to stay warm. In summer, keep their room cool and use lighter layers.