Tiny lives safer in separate baby bed

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 06/12/2013
Callum Scott-Kerr and Rebecca Cox
MARTIN de RUYTER/Fairfax NZ
SWEET DREAMS: Callum Scott-Kerr and Rebecca Cox with their 2-day-old baby at Nelson Hospital yesterday. Today is Safe Sleep Awareness Day.

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The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board wants parents to know that making sure their babies are sleeping in a safe place is just as important as putting them in car seats before travelling.

Today is Safe Sleep Awareness Day, which aims to help people prevent the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) by making sure their babies are sleeping safely.

Operations manager assistant director of midwifery Debbie Fisher said it could be easy to think babies were always safe when they were asleep because they looked so peaceful, but it was worth moving them to their own bed as they were safer there.

A board spokesperson said New Zealand had the highest rate of SUDI in the OECD, with between 50 and 70 deaths each year.

Paediatrician and child and youth mortality review committee chair Dr Nick Baker said sharing beds was a common practice for many families, but it was safer for babies to have their own place to sleep. The NMDHB quoted research showing that 86 per cent of deaths due to unintentional suffocation occurred when the baby was not in their own baby bed.

"We understand that a lot of families want to be close to their babies, want to hold them and protect them, for some it is simply done because the house is too cold and baby may be warmer next to parents," said Dr Baker. "But bed sharing with baby is increasingly recognised as dangerous for our pepi [babies]."

He said having their own sleeping space to protect babies from SUDI was especially important if the baby had been exposed to smoking during pregnancy, as smoke exposure reduced the baby's "drive to breathe".

Their airways were easily compromised during bedsharing, rolling on their tummies from a side position or from being smothered by bedding or wedged as he said they did not fight to live as well as other babies.

SAFE SLEEP

The most important things you can do to protect your baby while they sleep are: P. Position. Place the baby flat on his or her back to sleep, face up. E. Eliminate smoking. Do not smoke while pregnant and protect your baby with a smoke-free family environment, house and car. P. Place. Put the baby in his or her own baby bed with their face clear of bedding. E. Encourage and support the baby's mother so that the baby is breastfed.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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