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Te Rā Mokopuna Ora – Safe Sleep Day

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Te Rā Mokopuna Ora - Safe Sleep Day on 2 December is a national campaign developed by Whakawhetū which focuses on promoting safe sleep practices for babies, so that every sleep is a safe sleep – for every baby.

​Ensuring all pēpi (babies) sleep safely from birth is one of the most important strategies to prevent SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) and will help us all to move closer toward the goal of Mokopuna Ora.  

MidCentral Health Pepi Haumaru – Keeping Babies Safe Coordinator, Jessica Sandbrook said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to share safe sleep information with whanau and discuss some of the exciting positive initiatives coming up within our region.”

Every year in New Zealand about 50 babies die from SUDI - also known as SIDS, or cot death). It’s the main preventable reason for death in children under the age of one.  Babies spend a lot of time sleeping so it’s a great opportunity to share with parents and caregivers things they can do to help reduce the risks of SUDI.  Ensuring every baby has a safe sleep, every time they sleep, will dramatically reduce the number of SUDI cases in New Zealand.

A majority of libraries across the MDHB region will have static displays promoting safe sleep messages, along with a colouring competition for people to participate in.  There will also be an opportunity for people to engage with weavers at the front entrance of Palmerston North Hospital on 2 December between 9am and 3pm.  Public and staff will be encouraged to have a go at weaving a putiputi (flower), or to sit and chat with the weavers about their unique skills and knowledge.

There are two types of sleeping devices used to support whanau to provide a safe sleep space for baby, the wahakura and pepi-pod. Whahakura is a traditionally-based individually hand woven flax bassinet for infants up to 5-6 months.  Pepi-pods are based on the wahakura model and made from 100% polypropylene, and both provide a separate safe sleep space for baby. Traditional cots and bassinettes are also still fantastic safe sleep spaces for babies.

Wahakura have been promoted and distributed in Māori communities around New Zealand through a number of health providers and among whānau since 2007. It also helps facilitate a wider conversation with whanau about safe sleeping and Mokopuna Ora.

The wahakura and pepi-pod encourages safe sleeping, accommodates co-sleeping, increases protection from tobacco smoke, reduces harm from alcohol and drugs, increases breastfeeding, reduces family violence and increases maternal mental health. 

Marama McGrath-McDonald, also MidCentral Health Pepi Haumaru – Keeping Babies Safe Coordinator says: “We must do everything we can to develop further work continuing in our region and keep thinking of innovative and creative strategies to cater for the needs of our communities.”

Development of a new initiative across the region is progressing well with a number of wananga planned for next year to engage with whanau Maori and support local weavers to create wahakura.

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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