Moe Kitenga: a qualitative study of perceptions of infant and child sleep practices among Māori whānau

Insufficient sleep is a strong risk factor for unhealthy weight gain in children. Māori (the indigenous population of Aotearoa (New Zealand)) children have an increased risk of unhealthy weight gain compared to New Zealand European children. Interventions around sleep could provide an avenue for improving health and limiting excessive weight gain with other meaningful benefits for whānau (extended family) well-being. However, current messages promoting good sleep may not be realistic for many Māori whānau. Using qualitative methods, the Moe Kitenga project explored the diverse realities of sleep in 14 Māori whānau. We conclude that for infant sleep interventions to prevent obesity and improve health outcomes for Māori children, they must take into account the often pressing social circumstances of many Māori whānau that are a barrier to adopting infant sleep recommendations, otherwise sleep interventions could create yet another oppressive standard that whānau fail to live up to.