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Pēpi-Pods program promotes safe sleep for newborns

Thursday 9 March 2017

A baby girl lies in a pepi-pod.
Portable sleeping spaces Pēpi-Pods can reduce the risk of suffocation for sleeping babies.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander newborns will sleep more safely and soundly under a new Queensland Government ‘safe sleeping’ initiative to distribute Pēpi-Pods to new mothers.

The safe sleeping education program will roll out in Indigenous communities, and will include the distribution of 600 Pēpi-Pods for young mothers aged 15-25 years.

The Pēpi-Pod, a safe sleep enabler for newborns up to five months old, provides physical protection for a baby in situations where there is a high risk of suffocation.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the program aims to reduce the high rates of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), which is alarmingly four times higher amongst Indigenous infants.

“Safe sleeping arrangements are absolutely vital and provide a starting point to keep babies and young children safe at home," the Premier said.

“Pēpi-Pods have made a real difference in helping reduce infant mortality in New Zealand by up to 30 per cent over the last four years, so I’m pleased that hundreds of young Indigenous mothers right here in Queensland will be able to use them, in conjunction with education and health support."

The Pēpi-Pod is a portable sleeping space designed for babies up to five months, which includes appropriate bedding.

The pod can help keep babies safe when they sleep in places where the risk of suffocation is higher like on an adult bed, couch or shared bed.

Professor Jeanine Young from the University of the Sunshine Coast introduced the program as a trial in 2014 in collaboration with Queensland Health and New Zealand’s Change of our Children social innovation organisation.

Professor Young said babies thrive when they are kept close to their mothers, as is valued in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and that there has already been strong support from health services participating in the study.

An education and awareness program, including antenatal workshops, will be rolled out in conjunction with the Pēpi-Pod Program through local community-controlled health networks.

The aim of the program is to spread safe sleep messages within individual social networks, turning safe sleep advice into safe sleep action.

Last updated: 23 August 2017