What is ‘normal’ infant sleep & how does it develop?
What do we know about infant sleep safety?
What is the latest guidance on SIDS?
What about breastfeeding and bed-sharing?
How can we communicate all this to parents?
Infant sleep safety is an issue caught between two public health agendas: Safeguarding (especially prevention of infant death); and Wellbeing (promotion of breastfeeding, bonding, and infant mental development). Both seek positive outcomes for infants, but these outcomes differ.
Although these agendas intersect their recommendations can be contradictory and those delivering infant care messages and support to new parents need a good understanding of the issues in order to answer parents’ questions.
Without good knowledge of the relevant sleep issues support workers and health professionals often feel confused and frustrated regarding their roles, especially when conflicting information abounds on topics such as normal infant sleep development, sleep training, sudden infant death prevention, infant sleep location and the use of sleep aids. Lack of confidence in what to say about sleep safety has led to support workers and health professionals avoiding the topic and feeling unable to provide information and support to parents in this area.
Having been involved for many years in contributing to training workshops on infant sleep safety and sleep development, Prof. Helen Ball and her team at Durham University can now offer comprehensive training packages for the NHS and local government workforce, and for parenting charities/voluntary sector. We provide a balanced treatment of infant sleep issues, clear guidance on what is known and not known regarding SIDS and accidental infant death risk reduction, and tools that support workers in tailoring advice to particular communities and individual families.
"Very useful for anyone working with parents and babies"
"I'm happier to talk about sleep location. Somehow the info seems to be more positively received by the parents than before"
"I also now talk about infant sleep as a stand-alone topic, how infants sleep, how this sleep differs from adult sleep, the role of infant sleep and how to better approach sleep as parents"
"I feel far better informed to back up what I say with a strong evidence base"
"I send out many links to ISIS and place a bigger emphasis on the importance of parents thinking (and making informed choices) about where they want their baby to sleep and to be prepared for it"
"To speak to acknowledged experts in this area is a privilege. It ought to be compulsory"