Despite ongoing education efforts, infant sleep-related deaths continue to be a problem at national and local levels.
Poor implementation of safe sleep practices has been identified in numerous studies, highlighting the need for
innovative approaches to safe sleep education.
Safe Sleep Simulation started as an assignment to design a community health education program for a Doctor of Medical Science program. It was entered into an innovation competition with the goal of addressing infant mortality. It was transformed into an education tool that did not require expensive simulation equipment and could be used by safe sleep educators anywhere.
The Safe Sleep vision is to utilize innovative education strategies to eliminate preventable, infant sleep related deaths worldwide.
By utilizing concepts of medical simulation technology and hands on interactive scenarios, Safe Sleep provides primary prevention and promotes experiential learning.
Our mission to improve knowledge of and adherence to safe sleep practices through the experiential learning among current, expectant, and future infant caregivers.
Through these efforts, the goal of Safe Sleep Simulation is to increase adherence to safe sleep practices among infant caregivers, ultimately decreasing infant mortality.
The establishment of the Safe to Sleep campaign was nearly 25 years ago. Yet, the US still averages approximately 3,500 infant sleep deaths per year, a number that has not significantly changed since 1999. Non-adherence to safe sleep practices contributes to this stagnant number and remains a significant risk factor for infant death. The Journal of the American Medical Association has identified that current public health education strategies are not effectively decreasing US rates of infant sleep-related deaths and incited a call to action to “think outside the box,” calling for innovative approaches to safe infant sleep education (1).
Despite the prone position being an overwhelming, evidence-based risk factor for infant sleep-related death (2) and evidence that placing an infant on its back to sleep decreases the risk of SUID and SIDS, many caregivers continue to utilize unsafe sleep practices that predispose infants to known risks for SUID and sleep-related deaths (3).
The United States still averages approximately 3,500 infant sleep related deaths per year, despite releasing the Safe to Sleep campaign.
Placing an infant on its back to sleep significantly reduces the risk of SUID and SIDS, yet many caregivers continue to utilize unsafe practices.
Research has shown time and again that decisions not to follow safe sleep guidelines often stem from caregiver beliefs and safety misconceptions. Safety misconceptions surrounding the proximity of the infant to the parents while sleeping as well as misconceptions regarding the prone position and choking have also been identified. Education regarding the actual physiological effects related to a baby sleeping upright versus prone versus supine, and with bedding rather than on a firm surface is felt to be vital in addressing a potential knowledge gap.
Perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefit, and perceived barriers are concepts of the Health Belief Model, and can be helpful to address in a health education program surrounding safe sleep, like Safe Sleep Simulation, as simply providing a crib or bassinet to caregivers has not been shown to ensure that safe sleep practices will be followed.This approach allows educators to emphasize the susceptibility of infants to sleep-related death and poor outcomes associated with unsafe sleep positions and also the severe consequences that can result from placing infants in an unsafe sleep position. We believe that a successful safe sleep education program should engage caregivers and provide visual demonstration of the physiology associated with unsafe sleep practices to reiterate the susceptibility and severity surrounding this issue.
The Safe Sleep Simulation kit consists of a 3D infant model, removable 3D printed airway, and a mobile application.
Leverage highly realistic technology and hands-on training to maximize the impact of safe sleep education. With our program, participants not only receive the safe sleep information, but they interact hands-on with the demonstration to help understand the changes that can occur in their baby’s airway in different sleep positions.
Our goal is that understanding why the recommendations exist will help to emphasize the importance of adhering to safe sleep practices. We all tell caregivers about safe versus unsafe sleep practices, but often struggle with their buy-in. If we can show them with the models why certain positions and practices are safe and others are not, our goal is that they will be more likely to adhere to these recommendations at 3AM when their baby has been crying for hours.