All families need to know how to create the safest sleep environment for their baby in any situation. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and other experts recommend that providers have open and nonjudgmental conversations with families about how they put their baby(ies) to sleep.
How & When to Talk to Families
If possible, start the conversation with families before the baby is born, and keep talking about safe sleep throughout infancy. Try to include as many caregivers as possible in the discussions. These three questions can be good conversation starters:
- ‘‘What are your plans for where your baby will sleep and nap?’’
- ‘‘What does that sleep area look like?’’
- ‘‘Does your baby ever end up in bed with you?’’
The questions listed above are just the beginning of the conversation. Try to listen, reflect, and respond appropriately to what the caregiver says, then offer tips and guidance. Also, this isn’t just a conversation for first-time parents. Parents and caregivers who already have children, especially young children, still need strategies for how to manage bedtime(s) for everyone.
It’s especially important to talk caregivers whose babies are at an increased risk of sleep-related death. This includes:
- babies who are born preterm
- babies who are exposed to tobacco during pregnancy
- babies who live with smokers
- babies who live with people who consume alcohol or drugs
Explain to caregivers why babies are at higher risk for sleep-related death. Have a conversation with the whole family to figure out ways to keep baby safe while caregivers sleep. Use the “teach back” method to ensure that families understand why their baby is at risk, and what they can do to reduce that risk.
Did you know? You can receive continuing education credits for learning more about safe sleep! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created a free course you can take. For more information, click here.
This website also has resources you can share with families to help them remember what you discussed. We have an interactive game that caregivers can play to learn the steps to safe sleep, a downloadable checklist, videos of Louisiana families sharing their safe sleep stories, and more!