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National Safe Sleep Day aims to protect babies

December 4, 2013

National Safe Sleep Day aims to protect babies

New Zealand’s first National Safe Sleep Day on December 6 has attracted an overwhelming community response, according toWhakawhetu, the National Māori organisation for sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) prevention.

Whakawhetu has worked closely with its partner organisations TAHA and Change for Our Children, to bring this initiative to life and the organisations hope that Safe Sleep Day will become an annual event.

Director of Change for Our Children, Stephanie Cowan, believes that Safe Sleep Day can make a positive difference for our families.

“If everyone understands what safe sleep is and how to achieve it, then together we can make a real difference to reducing SUDI.”

Too many babies are dying while they sleep and many of these deaths could have been prevented. Unintentional suffocation in the place of sleep is the most common cause of death for infants under the age of 12 months. Every year 60 Kiwi families lose their babies in this way. The National Safe Sleep Day aims to turn this around.

Many babies will be saved by following the simple P.E.P.E message:

• PLACE baby in his or her own baby bed, face clear of bedding, in the same room as a caregiver

• ELIMINATE smoking in pregnancy, and protect baby with a smoke free whanau, whare and waka

• POSITION baby flat on his or her back to sleep, face up towards the heavens

• ENCOURAGE and support mum, so baby is breastfed

Teuila Percival, Director of TAHA Well Pacific Mother and Infant service understands how important these messages are for Pacific families.

“As with all communities, keeping their babies safe is so important to Pacific mums. They will benefit from following the P.E.P.E messages,” she says.

Safe Sleep Day is all about encouraging local community groups to bring the safe sleep messages to their families in fun and entertaining ways. For example, the Taonga Education Centre in Clendon, Auckland will be holding a morning tea for their teen parents group, which will also be the launch of their Pēpi-Pod sleep space programme. At Enderley Park in Hamilton safe sleep messages will be a focal talking point at their Christmas in the Park event. While a number of groups from Te Tai Tokerau, Tamaki Makau rau, and Waikato are holding weaving wananga, focusing on weaving wahakura - a woven basket for baby to sleep in.

“We’ve provided free resource packs of stickers, posters and balloons across the country. But it’s the wonderful diverse ways that Safe Sleep Day is being celebrated that will make it a success. All credit goes to our fantastic communities across New Zealand who want to make a positive difference,” says Kathrine Clarke, National Director from Whakawhetu.

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