Why are we so passive about the deaths of our babies?
Every year, sixty New Zealand babies die sudden unexpected deaths as they sleep. Most babies are well and most deaths are preventable. Would we accept 60 deaths a year of healthy people from any other age group or for any other reason? We are shocked as a nation when children die at the hands of their carers, when teens are cut down by dangerous driving, when young ones take their own lives. And so we should be. Is it the loss of life that shocks us or the circumstances?
We legislate to protect our children from drowning and from harm when they travel in cars. Yet we are casual about the safety advice of 'face-up, face clear, smokefree' to protect a baby as they sleep. For babies, unsafe sleep is the single greatest threat to their lives. Sudden unexpected deaths in infancy (SUDI) are silent. They do not make the headlines and are invisible to the community at large. The burden of loss is borne by the baby's family.
Time to say goodbye
Now is the time we say goodbye, not to our babies, but to our apathy about their vulnerability, our tolerance of their deaths. It is time to farewell our ambivalence about sleep positions and our reluctance to challenge unsafe practices. It is time to move on from infancy being a stage of development shrouded with risk, and time to welcome a new era of 'survive and thrive' for babies and 'hope and confidence' for parents.
The new era
In the new era of protection, every baby is safe every time and in every place they sleep. They are safe to take their rest, have their dreams and wake, because every family knows what makes them vulnerable and every family acts to be sure they are safe. To create this reality we need to align a nation with the principles for protecting a baby's life and enable families to act to protect them. This is the purpose of the Essentials effort.
Safe Start is the overall programme of Change for our Children for promoting a safe start to life. Baby Essentials is our professional education and Through the Tubes our current focus on preventing the group of deaths due to accidental suffocation. Safe Sleep is the term we use to focus our community resources.
A Talk Card to help shape discussions about what is essential for protecting a baby's life
technical support for Safe Sleep Champions
Transform(No 34) Communique New
''Through the tubes' Talk Card for discussions
about preventing suffocation New
Smokefree Pregnancy Presentation (with voice over) It matters where you grow
Six Principles picture Presentation
Baby Essentials Presentation
Presenter's Slide Guide and Handouts
Baby Essentials User's Resource Kit
Baby Essentials Talk Card and Guide
Baby Essentials Pocket Prompts
Baby Essentials Online (updated 2013)
Knowledge Match-up Cards
Introduction to Safe Sleep resources
Safe Sleep Leaflet, Cot Card and Poster
Safe Start Education Resource
'Yes you can! leaflet
Safe Sleep for Babies prepared by Auckland University to explain infant airways risk.
ISA, ISPID and APACT Presentations