Safe sleeping and car seats

Kaya Turner having a safe moe (sleep). Safe sleeping is an important part of baby’s health. A wahakura or pēpi pod are the best options if you would like baby to sleep in bed with you.
May 20, 2020

Top Tips

Family Start Community Support Worker Megan Wall has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to creating healthy and safe routines for your whānau and pēpi (baby). Safe sleeping and car seat use are two of the areas that the Family Start team commonly advise whānau on. Planning and preparation go a long way. Here are their top tips.


If you want to have baby in bed with you, use a wahakura or pēpi pod.

While the Family Start team understand and respect different cultural views, co-sleeping is regarded as unsafe for babies. Risks include baby accidentally suffocating from being rolled on or being under blankets or injury through falling out of the bed.

If either parent smokes, baby is exposed to carbon monoxide. This can increase the chance of Sudden Unexplained Death in Infancy (SUDI). What we used to term “cot death.” Aside from this there are a number of other health complications baby can experience from being around second-hand smoke.

You can protect baby by having them in a wahakura or pēpi pod when they are in bed with you. These can be sourced through a midwife or Well Child provider.

Make sure you get the right sort of cot (and that isn’t a portacot). You may not want to have baby in bed with you and don’t have access to a bassinet. Good news is it’s safe for baby to sleep in a cot from birth.

The cost of a new cot can be a stress for families and Megan suggests thinking about this early on in pregnancy and looking to purchase one that grows with baby. “You can get some that go from birth through to their first bed. These cots you can adjust the height of the mattress and take the sides down when needed. They will last for years.”

Portacots may appear an affordable option however they aren’t safe for long term use. “Portacots just aren’t designed to be used ongoing. The mattresses that come with them aren’t to that standard and do not breathe like a proper cot one.”


Hire a capsule

Car seats are all about keeping pēpi safe while traveling and if you don’t have the correct sort you won’t be allowed to leave hospital with your new precious bundle. The first seat you will need is a capsule which is rear facing and the right size for baby. However, you’ll find that baby will grow out of this seat in a matter of months which is why Megan suggests hiring one in the short term from somewhere like The Baby Factory.

Another thing to remember is that capsules are only for traveling and not for sleeping in at home. “We get it. The last thing you might want to do is wake Bubba up but the position the capsule holds them in can affect their breathing when sleeping for long periods.”

Buy the next car seat

The next car seat you need is the one that is best value to buy. “You want a seat that can adjust to fit baby best as they grow. One with suitable padding and that can go from rear facing to front facing,” explains Megan. Best practice says that it is safest in an accident for your tamariki to be in a rear facing position until they are 2 years old.

Beware of second-hand car seats

You need to be aware of the risks of buying car seats second hand. “You don’t want a seat that’s been in an accident and you need to check expiry dates.” The general safe lifetime for a car seat is ten years.

Seek advice to have your seat properly fitted Regardless of whether you are hiring or buying if you need help fitting the seat properly, ask for it. The Baby Factory are a great source to help with this.

Family Start support whānau from pregnancy until tamariki are 5 years of age. Contact 06 835 1840 and ask for Family Start if you would like to access this free service.

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