Safe Sleep in Early Childhood Education Settings

    The purpose of this project is to provide clear direction to teachers and parents on safe infant sleep for babies aged less than one year, in home, or centre-based Early Childhood Education, settings.                                                        

    This project is responding to: 

    • an increase in enrollment numbers of babies under one year in New Zealand ECE centres1,
    • knowledge that suffocation is the leading cause of accidental deaths in this age group2,
    • requests for support on ECE safe sleep best practice in New Zealand 3,
    • evidence that it is not just the young baby needing protection from sudden death; 
    • one in five sudden infant deaths in New Zealand are babies aged 5-12 months2.

    Setting-specific materials and support

    The materials on this page have been designed specifically to support ECE staff. They are free to be downloaded and used as desired, and are based on current scientific evidence4. 

    They include:

    • short presentation for ECE staff ('Safe to Breathe')a policy template for safe infant sleep
    • best practice guidelines template for safe infant sleep
    • generic online course ('Baby Essentials')
    • guide for integrating safe sleep education into doll play

    We encourage you to start with the ECE education. It will help you to make an assessment of current knowledge, and may highlight strengths, and possible weaknesses, in your current safe infant sleep policy and practice.

    'Safe to Breathe' (and certificated quiz). 

    This is a 12 minute presentation (with voice over) for early childhood teachers and carers. It provides essential education on protecting babies under one year while they sleep in your care. (NB The file may take a minute or two to download.) 

    Participants will receive a certificate of participation upon completion of the education and summary quiz. If you view the presentation as a slideshow you will be able to activate the link to complete the quiz.

    The presentation can be completed individually or as a group. If used with a group, we suggest completing the activities in the presentation as a group, and discussing challenges and steps forward for your ECE environment. Voice over notes can be downloaded here.

    Safe Sleep Policy

    This template is provided to support the development of policy-driven practice. You are welcome to download and amend as required. 

    Best practice guidelines

    These offer support to implement safe sleep policy within the ECE centre and can also be downloaded and amended as required.

    Baby Essentials online

    This is additional education for staff who want to learn more about sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and how to prevent it. It is a 15 minute self-led certificated course to increase confidence.

    Doll Play Guide. 

    Support for integrating safe sleep into doll play.

    For more information

    Please contact us if you have questions or think we can help in any way. Your work is important.


    1. Ministry of Education (2012) Annual ECE summary report  2012

    2 CYMRC, Special report: Unintentional suffocation , foreign body inhalation and strangulation, March 2013

    3. Midcentral DHB (2012) Public Health Service Safe Sleeping Best Practice Awareness Project Report (not published)

    4. Current scientific evidence on safe sleep recommendations


     Quick links