Safe sleep: 3 - 4 years

How big a problem is it?

Sudden unexpected deaths in infants (SUDI) is relatively rare among children older than one year, but it does occur.

Who does it affect?

Falls are the leading injury risk in this 3-4 age group and this can because of sleeping arrangements. When your child reaches this age and stage it may be time to think about new sleeping arrangements. It’s an opportunity for a new risk assessment of the bedroom (and elsewhere in the home). You may have already moved your child from a cot/bassinette to a bed where there is an increased risk of falling out of bed while sleeping if there isn’t a side rail stopping them when they roll over. But there may be behavioural changes as they become more confident and adventurous that you need to manage.

Top Tips

Position the bed so that it is in the corner of the bedroom – this will mean there are two sides of the bed where your child can’t roll out. You can also buy guard rails that attach to the sides of the bed to prevent your child falling out. 


  • Move other bedroom furniture, such as cabinets, tables, bookcases and lamps, away from your child’s bed. 

  • Top bunks of bunk beds are not suitable for children under 9 years of age. 

  • Make sure your child is dressed appropriately for the room temperature, to avoid overheating. If they look like they are sweating or feeling hot to touch you may have overdressed them. 

Remember the A.B.C. for safe sleep:
A: alone
B: on their backs
C: in a cot (or in their own bed at this age) every time.

First Aid

If your child is unconscious, call for help or ask someone to call for you if you are not alone and start CPR immediately. CPR instructions for babies and toddlers’ are here. Do not stop performing CPR until medical help arrives and takes over.

Link to Safekids' resources

Download SUDI reference card

Reference Card Sources

Link to other organisations’ resources

Hapai SUDI Prevention Coordination Service (National SUDI Prevention Coordination Service)

NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission SUDI protection advice

NZ National Safe Sleep Device Quality Specification Guidelines

Keep Your Baby Safe During Sleep pamphlet

PEPE Safe Sleep Videos




Ministry of Health Safe Sleep pages

Acknowledgement: This page includes a link to the KidsHealth website page containing the Basic Life Support Flow Chart. The Basic Life Support Flow Chart is developed by the New Zealand Resuscitation Council and Australian Resuscitation Council. For more information see New Zealand Resuscitation Council