Keep Your Baby Safe During Sleep - HE1228

February 2023
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This pamphlet contains key messages about making every sleep a safe sleep to prevent babies from dying suddenly in their sleep.

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February 2023
February 2023
Pamphlet DLE
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Every year, too many New Zealand babies die suddenly during sleep.

Many of these deaths can be prevented.

You can help protect your baby from dying suddenly in their sleep by:

  1. PLACE baby in their own bed for every sleep (and close to parents/caregivers at night)
  2. ELIMINATE smoking in pregnancy, in the whānau and in the home
  3. POSITION baby on their back for sleep
  4. ENCOURAGE and support Mum, so baby is breastfed

This pamphlet describes the best ways to protect your baby from dying suddenly in their sleep. It aligns with the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee publication, Special Report: Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (June 2017)

Make every sleep a safe sleep

Always follow these safe-sleep routines for your baby and your baby’s bed.

Make sure your baby is safe

  • Always sleeps on their back to keep their airways clear
  • Is in their own bed such as a bassinet, wahakura, pēpi-pod® or other baby-safe sleep bed
  • Has a parent/caregiver who is alert to their needs and free from alcohol or drugs

Make sure your baby’s bed is safe

  • Has a firm and flat mattress – to keep baby’s airways open
  • Has no gaps between the frame and the mattress – that could trap or wedge baby
  • Has nothing in the bed that might cover baby’s face or lift their head – no pillows, toys, loose bedding or bumper pads
  • Is close to the parents/caregivers at night for the first 6 months of life

Make sure your baby is healthy and strong

  • Smokefree in pregnancy and after birth – protecting their lungs and airways
  • Exclusively breastfed to around 6 months of age and continues to be breastfed to 12 months of age
  • Immunised on time

Image showing mother asleep in bed with her baby. The baby is in his own bed beside her.If you choose to sleep in bed with your baby, put them in their own baby bed beside you – for example, a pēpi-pod® or wahakura. This may help reduce the risk of your baby suffocating while they are asleep. Information about using a pēpi-pod® or wahakura is available online at and

It is never safe to put your baby to sleep in an adult bed, on a couch or on a chair.

Car seats or capsules protect your baby when travelling in the car. Don’t use them as a cot or bassinet.

Pēpi-Pod® and wahakura are available at no cost for whānau who meet certain criteria. Contact your midwife or the SUDI National Coordination team, email for more information. If you need financial assistance so that baby can have their own bed, you may be eligible for help from Work and Income. For more information visit or call 0800 559 009.

Protect your baby’s head shape

When your baby is sleeping, turn their head so that sometimes they face left and sometimes they face right.

Tummy time while baby is awake will help protect their head shape and make their arms strong.

  • Back for sleep
  • Front for play
  • Upright for cuddles and hugs

More information


Code: HE1228