Safe Sleep For Your Baby

Safe Sleep For Your Baby

Every year, too many New Zealand babies die suddenly during sleep. Find out about the best ways to reduce the risk. Make every sleep a safe sleep for your baby.

Your child: Safe sleep

Your child: Safe sleep

Key points to remember about safe sleep for your baby

  • P - place baby in their own baby bed in the same room as you
  • E - eliminate smoking in pregnancy and protect baby with a smokefree family or whānau, whare (home) and waka (car)
  • P - position baby flat on their back to sleep - face clear of bedding
  • E - encourage and support exclusive breastfeeding and gentle handling of baby

P - place baby in their own baby bed in the same room as you

Give your baby their own bed (such as a cot, bassinet, wahakura or Pēpi-Pod®).

Place your baby in their own bed for every sleep, including when visiting friends and whānau.

Have your baby's bed in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months.

Have a firm, flat mattress that fits your baby's bed well and has no gaps between the frame and the mattress.

​Have nothing in the bed that might cover your baby's face - no pillows, toys, loose blankets or bumper pads.

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 will help reduce the risk of your baby suffocating while they are asleep.

If you'd like find out more about a Pēpi-pod® or wahakura, ask your midwife.

Image showing mother asleep in bed with her baby. The baby is in his wakakura beside her.Mother and father sleeping with their baby in a Pepi-pod

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

The person looking after your baby needs to be sober and drug-free.

E - eliminate smoking in pregnancy and protect baby with a smokefree family or whānau, whare (home) and waka (car)

Make sure you protect your baby with a smokefree family or whānau, whare (home) and waka (car). If you want to give up smoking:

P - position baby flat on their back to sleep - face clear of bedding

Make sure your baby always sleeps on their back with their face clear of bedding.

When your baby sleeps on their back, they are better able to keep their airway clear and open. 

E - encourage and support exclusive breastfeeding and gentle handling of baby

Your breast milk makes a big difference to your baby's health.

Breast milk helps protect your baby from some illnesses, as a baby and later in their life.

Ask your midwife if you'd like some more support with your breastfeeding.

Mum breastfeeding baby

How can I make every sleep a safe sleep when I'm out and about with my baby?

Car seats or capsules protect your baby when travelling in the car. Don't use them as a cot or bassinet. Car seats and capsules are not safe for your baby to sleep in when you are at home or at your destination.

If you are out somewhere, make sure your baby has a safe place to sleep. Take your wahakura, Pēpi-pod®, portacot or bassinet with you, and use it on a flat surface.

What if I need financial help to get my baby their own bed?

If you need financial help so that baby can have their own bed, you may be able to get some help from Work and Income. For more information visit the Work and Income website or call 0800 559 009.

How can I protect my 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 your 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

For more information, see Positional head flattening in babies.

Safe sleep card 

Thumbnail image of safe sleep poster

The information on this page describes the best ways to protect your baby from dying suddenly in their sleep. It aligns with the National SUDI Prevention Programme: Needs Assessment and Care Planning Guide

Our thanks to Northland District Health Board for the 4 PEPE videos and to the Ministry of Health for the 'Your child: Safe sleep' video.

Our thanks to Change for our Children for the Pēpi-pod® photo.

This page last reviewed 27 May 2019.
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