Keeping babies and toddlers safe

Our most vulnerable children are babies and toddlers, because they completely depend on people to care for them. We need parents and the whole community looking out for babies, to make sure they are safe, protected and doing well.

That's why we've introduced a whole package of programmes to help keep vulnerable children safe.

Green paper for vulnerable children

The Government has launched a discussion paper to give people and communities a say on how New Zealand can better protect children.

Visit to learn more about the green paper for vulnerable children.

Caring for babies

Caring for babies and toddlers is a big job, and we all need a helping hand at times. If you're a parent who would like some help, check out our section on information for parents. There are lots of people you can talk things through with. You have the power to protect your baby.

Protecting children

Every year, around 20 children under the age of two are admitted to hospital with shocking injuries.  More than a third of these children have been shaken. Four will die.

We work with families and people in the community to protect children and keep them safe. Every New Zealander has a role to play in looking out for the children who can't look out for themselves. By speaking out, or offering help, we can help children to thrive. Read more in our keeping kids safe section about keeping children and young people safe in your community.

Shaken baby prevention programme

In 2009, we ran a multi-media campaign aimed at educating parents and caregivers about why you must never, ever shake a baby.

At the same time we invested $280,000 over two years into the Auckland District Health Board's ‘preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome' programme, where lead maternity carers talk with every new parent about how to look after a crying baby, and why you must never shake them.

Overseas studies have shown this programme to reduce Shaken Baby Syndrome by nearly 50 percent.

Going National

This programme is going national, and is available to any health professional or organisations working with new parents via a train the trainer model.  The package teaches new parents about the dangers of shaking a baby, and provides help and advice on what they can do when baby cries.

The education package, which takes around 10 minutes to deliver, is free and consists of:

  • One brochure
  • Six key messages
  • A New Zealand produced DVD using real families
  • Posters that support the messages to families
  • An educator’s guide and training presentation for anyone delivering the programme.

Brochures and posters are also available free for anyone wanting to spread the message about how to protect your baby, including tips for parents about what to do when baby cries.

To find out more visit

Shaken Baby Syndrome is easy to prevent - simply by walking away when you feel frustrated or at breaking point. We all have the power to protect.

Child, Youth and Family social workers in hospitals

Child, Youth and Family has 21 Child, Youth and Family Hospital Social Workers covering 20 District Health Boards (DHBs) around the country, where they are on hand to support hospital staff caring for children who have been abused.

These social workers attend multi-disciplinary review meetings, provide a link between the DHB and Child, Youth and Family and work collaboratively with health professionals and Police.

Our people ensure that a multi agency safety plan is put in place for all of these children and young people prior to leaving the hospital.

Increasing understanding is a key part of the Child, Youth and Family hospital social worker.  On any given day they:

  • deliver presentations and training sessions to DHB and Child, Youth and Family staff on keeping kids safe.
  • liaise with staff and DHB health professionals about families in need of help and support.
  • work with others to identify at risk children requiring further follow up by Child, Youth and Family.

Our people work with:

  • Paediatrics department
  • Emergency department
  • Sexual health clinic
  • Child development centre
  • Adolescent mental health
  • Neo-natal unit
  • Oncology
  • Maternity Department.

Multi agency care plans

Multi agency care plans bring together Child, Youth and Family, Police, and Health professionals to ensure there is a clear, safe plan established for all children admitted to hospital as a result of abuse. This is about making sure children have a safe home to go to when they leave hospital, and there is an agreed process for monitoring their continued safety and wellbeing.

The care plans include details about who will care for the child, any health issues, additional supports needed for the child and their family, and clear definitions around the roles and responsibilities of each professional involved in their case. Care plans also outline the process for ongoing monitoring of the child's progress and safety.