Tod­dlers learn in­fant sleep safety

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE - REBECCA MOORE

Alarm­ing num­bers of Sud­den In­fant Death Syn­drome in South­land and the rest of the coun­try have prompted South­ern Dis­trict Health Board pub­lic health nurse and child youth mor­tal­ity co­or­di­na­tor Sharon Ayto to ed­u­cate peo­ple on how to pre­vent the deaths, start­ing with ‘‘the lit­tle ones’’.

A two-year project hopes to ed­u­cate early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors, par­ents and other adults on how they can show tod­dlers how ba­bies should sleep safely.

Through doll-play, Ayto had the idea to pro­mote safe sleep for ba­bies with the mes­sage ’’Face Up – Face Clear – Safe Place’’.

With a team of ex­perts, she cre­ated an in­no­va­tive new film fea­tur­ing pre-school­ers learn­ing safe sleep prac­tices in doll-play, which aimed to cre­ate fu­ture gen­er­a­tions who know safe sleep prac­tice and help re­duce the num­ber of Sud­den Un­ex­pected Death in In­fancy cases.

She hoped safe prac­tices would ‘‘breed into’’ fu­ture gen­er­a­tions so they would grow up know­ing what to do.

‘‘Num­bers [of deaths] are drop­ping off but it’s still too many.’’

Ev­ery year in New Zealand about 50 ba­bies die from Sud­den Un­ex­pected Death in In­fancy (SUDI), which can oc­cur when in­fants are sleep­ing in an un­safe sleep en­vi­ron­ment, Ayto said.

‘‘Num­bers [of deaths] in South­land are pretty high.’’

In the South­land-Otago re­gion, the South­ern Dis­trict Health Board found from 2005 to 2014, there were 21 deaths from Sud­den Un­ex­pected Death (SUDI) in in­fancy, of which 17 were from Sud­den In­fant Death Syn­drome (SIDS).

She came up with the con­cept to make a video show­ing tod­dlers how to put their ‘‘ba­bies’’ to sleep so in the fu­ture it would be ‘‘nat­u­ral’’ for them to put a baby, whether it be a sib­ling or their own, to bed.

‘‘This is an op­por­tu­nity to guide to­mor­row’s par­ents in safe sleep prac­tices.’’

In 2015 the idea won the ‘South­ern In­no­va­tion Chal­lenge’ and Ayto re­ceived $10,000 to­wards the cre­ation of this short ed­u­ca­tional film to show early child­hood teach­ers and sup­port staff how to model safe sleep prac­tices.

‘‘The chil­dren picked it up re­ally quickly.

‘‘This is just the be­gin­ning.’’

She has plans to have the film in te reo, and write a book.


South­ern Dis­trict Health Board pub­lic health nurse and child youth mor­tal­ity co­or­di­na­tor Sharon Ayto.

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