Pepi-pods and wahakura are once again being touted as the safe sleeping devices of choice for newborn babies by Whanganui health authorities.

Both the Whanganui District Health Board and the Whanganui Regional Health Network are embracing Te Rā Mokopuna (National Safe Sleep Day) this Friday and are promoting safe sleeping.

The two authorities want families of young children to be aware of the risks around Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy.

A report earlier this year by the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee found Whanganui had the highest rate of babies dying in their sleep alongside Gisborne and its surrounding area.


A public health nurse at the DHB, Marianne Vine, said SUDI by suffocation was preventable and some of the risks were easily reduced.

"While smoking and bed sharing are major risk factors leading to sudden unexpected death in infancy, we'd also urge mothers and families to think about safe clothing and bedding choices for their babies," she said.

"The importance of babies and infants having clothing and blankets that can breathe, for example cotton and wool, is vital to preventing overheating which can lead to SUDI. This age group cannot regulate their body heat, which makes them among the most vulnerable."

Vine said polar fleece and mink blankets were not appropriate for babies and infants.

"Easy wash merino wraps are popular and are perfect for babies. There are many lovely woollen blankets available through op shops that can be hand or gentle washed. I recently picked up a robust pure wool baby shawl for $2 from an op shop in very good condition."

Pepi-pods and wahakura are both being promoted as a good means of safe sleeping. They're handed out to new parents who want them by the Whanganui Regional Health Network.

A wahakura is a woven flax bassinet for infants up to six months of age, while a pepi-pod is the polypropylene plastic equivalent.

The health network's safe sleep coordinator Angela Weekly said calls from people wanting a Pepi-Pod or wahakura were welcome.


"Pepi-pods and wahakura are supplied complete with a mattress, sheets and a merino blanket. Likewise, if you have been gifted a Pepi-pod or wahakura, we can help to source linen and mattresses."