The Safe to Sleep® campaign traditionally has relied on health care providers—doctors, nurses, pharmacists, midwives, and others—to help spread safe sleep messages to parents and caregivers. These trusted community members often have easy access and multiple opportunities to interact directly with parents and caregivers. More importantly, they can both share safe sleep information and model safe sleep practices to have a real impact on infant care.
In addition to materials and activities related to health care providers in general, the Safe to Sleep® campaign maintains initiatives that aim to capitalize on the unique relationships between patients and providers, specifically nurses and pharmacists.
Nurses are an important information resource for new parents and often spend the most time with families following the birth of a child. Nurses are also in a unique position in that their behavior has a strong influence on parental behavior.
Research has shown that parents are more likely to follow safe sleep practices—particularly placing infants in the back sleep position—when they see nursery staff consistently model this behavior in the hospital.1 A 2002 study in New Haven, CT, found that nurses who placed infants in the back sleep position during the postpartum hospital stay changed parents' behaviors significantly.2 Safe sleep practices also can be modeled during postpartum care in out-of-hospital birth settings, such as birthing centers.
To make the most of this influence, the NICHD and the Safe to Sleep® campaign partnered with the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the NIH along with First Candle and several nursing and other organizations to create a continuing education course that gives nurses the information and tools needed to communicate and model SIDS risk reduction messages effectively and quickly.
The Continuing Education Program on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Risk Reduction: Curriculum for Nurses includes:
- Background information on SIDS, sudden unexplained infant death (SUID), and SIDS research
- Specific recommendations and risk reduction strategies
- Practical ways to demonstrate and communicate this information to parents and families
In addition to the NICHD, the NINR, and First Candle, partners in the nurses' CE effort include the Academy of Neonatal Nursing; the American College of Nurse Midwives; the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs; the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses; the March of Dimes; the National Alaska Native/American Indian Nurses Association; the National Association of Neonatal Nurses; the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; the Society of Pediatric Nursing; and the Washington State Department of Health.