A 3-month-old baby with her face buried in a pillow. A 5-week-old lying on his tummy with cannabis in his system. A 4-month-old trapped down the side of a couch with his sibling partially on top of him. A 9-month-old with its neck caught in the band of a sleep tent.

These are just some of the tragic sudden deaths in babies (SUDI) that have come before the Coroner's office this year, most of which have been attributed to an unsafe sleeping environment.

Despite the well-documented risks of co-sleeping, putting babies down on their tummies and dangers of smoking around infants, key safety messages are still not reaching some families - or if they are, they are being ignored.

More than 900 children under the age of one have died in New Zealand from SUDI since 2002, 56 of them in 2020.

The numbers had plateaued in recent years, after dropping from an annual high of about 250 in the 1980s, but appear to be starting to rise again.

Selah Hart, chief executive of Hāpai Te Hauora, which delivers the SUDI Prevention Co-ordination Service, said there is a concern about a potential increase in some areas with high deprivation, like South Auckland.

This year coroners have already held 15 SUDI inquests - most of which occurred between 2017 and 2020. Other cases from the past few years have either already been heard or are still going through the system.

Read full article here: NZ Herald - Sudden Infant Deaths: Baby dies after neck is caught in sleep tent