Talking to Families about Safe Sleep

July 30, 2020—Did you know that parents are more likely to follow the safe sleep guidelines when they are educated by a physician or other healthcare professional?1 In a Michigan survey, a large majority of new moms said a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional advised them to place their baby on the back to sleep (96%), in a crib, bassinet, or play yard (92%), with no objects (92%).2 It is important that so many health professionals are having this conversation with families, but there is still room from improvement. Only 50% of healthcare professionals advised families to room share—when baby sleeps in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed.

Not only is educating parents about safe sleep practices imporant, equally important is the tone of the conversation. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that physicians and healthcare providers talk openly and and nonjudgmentally with families about their sleep practices. Being empathetic, understanding the real-life challenges that families are experiencing, and honoring cultural and family traditions can help facilitate positive discussions.

To learn more about how to talk to families about safe sleep, take the online training, Helping Families Practice Safe Sleep, and review the resource Helping Families Practice Safe Sleep. The "Information for Professionals" section of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' Infant Safe Sleep website offers a variety of other free training options. CME, nursing, and social work credits are available .

Contact the MDHHS Infant Safe Sleep Program at for additional assistance.


1Colson ER, Geller NL, Heeren T & Corwin MJ. Factors associated with choice of infant sleep position. Pediatrics. 2017;140(3)

2Michigan Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) - Division of Lifecourse Epidemiology and Genomics - MDHHS – 2016-2018.