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Keywords:

  • disaster;
  • infant welfare;
  • social change

Aim

To describe how recipients of portable sleeping spaces (PSSs) for babies received and used these devices, offered as emergency baby beds in earthquake-ravaged Christchurch, New Zealand, 2011.

Method

The PSS package responded to increased risk to babies from disrupted living and sleeping conditions in families. ‘Door-to-door’ distribution offered easy access to those in need. A subgroup of recipients gave feedback via a survey.

Results

From 642 families who received PSSs between March and August, 139 were invited to complete a survey on usage and 100 (72%) responded. Risks identified were ‘earthquake related’ (82%), bed-sharing (41%), smoking in pregnancy (26%) and prematurity or low birthweight (11%). PSSs were used for same-bed co-sleeping by 87%. They were used even though most families (96%) also had a cot or bassinet. Features most appreciated were ‘having baby close’ (90%), ‘peace of mind’ (88%) and portability (74%).

Conclusion

PSSs were acceptable to parents and used as instructed. Enabling physical protection of babies when same-bed co-sleeping, they gave peace of mind to parents. PSSs could be considered in ordinary times for protecting babies from sudden infant death.