Safety briefing card - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Safety briefing card

Why are we providing pēpi-pods?

For safety reasons. Babies need a safe place to sleep.

If a sleeping baby cannot get enough oxygen to breathe they may suffocate and die.

Babies are not little adults, they are babies and need to be cared for in ways that protect them as they develop.

How do babies suffocate?

Oxygen can be stopped from reaching a baby’s lungs in 4 ways:

  • a covered face,
  • pinched nose,
  • ‘chin to chest’ position of the neck,
  • pressure on a tiny chest.
Position is extremely important:
  • Babies have short necks, loose jaws and large tongues filling their mouths.
  • Babies also have big heavy heads with a third of their head behind them.
  • Babies only breathe through their noses.

Because of these things, pillows or being propped can push a baby’s head into a chin to chest position and narrow or cut off their airway, limiting or stopping baby breathing.

If babies develop with not enough oxygen and too much bad gas (carbon dioxide), they get used to this and treat it as normal instead of a danger.

Which babies are at risk?

Are some babies more vulnerable (at risk) than other babies?

All babies are vulnerable to suffocation if they get into certain situations, some babies more so.

Babies who are under 6 months of age and babies who have been weakened by any of the following things may be more vulnerable to suffocation in certain situations:

  • smoking in pregnancy,
  • prematurity,
  • low birth weight,
  • obesity in pregnancy,
  • smoking in households, or
  • babies who sleep in unsafe sleeping positions or situations.

A ‘safe space’ is not enough. Babies also need ‘safe care from a parent’.

Rules of protection for babies in pēpi-pods

On the back, clear face
Only baby in this space
Breastfed, Smoke free
Sober carer close by me
Own space, gentle care
Drugs and drinking nowhere near

When must pēpi-pods be used?

Baby can be placed in the pēpi-pod for daytime and night time sleeps. Keeping baby close in their own safe sleeping space:

  • Whenever baby sleeps in or on an adult bed – during the day and the night.
  • When you are away from home visiting family and friends and there is no safe place for baby to sleep.
  • When doing work around the home baby can be in the pēpi-pods safe and close.
  • When having family time baby can be in pēpi-pod on the couch or in a safe place nearby.
Safe place

Make sure the pēpi-pod is always in a safe place when baby is in it.

  • Make sure the pēpi-pod is placed on a flat, level surface.
  • The pēpi-pod must never be propped on an angle when baby is asleep inside.
  • Make sure pēpi-pod is in a safe place when baby is in it.
  • Think about where the pēpi-pod is placed and the risks in that place.For example: pets, young children, things falling into the pēpi-pod, hot sun, heaters etc.
Settling baby using the pēpi-pod
  • Babies may need help to fall asleep.
  • Place baby in their pēpi-pod when you decide it is time for sleep.
  • Wrap baby firmly using wrap around sheets to help baby feel ‘held’.
  • Place pēpi-pod across your knee for ’closeness’ and gently sway and stroke to provide ’rhythm’.

Chief Investigator
Professor Jeanine Young

Tel: +61 7 5456 5898 / 0438903511

Download the Safety briefing card (PDF 368KB) 

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