Date of Publication


Project Team

Carol Buck-Rolland, Ed.D., APRN and Sally Kerschner, MSN, RN


Purpose. Approximately 3500 infants die annually in the United States from sleep related deaths. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a safe sleep environment that can reduce the risk of all sleep-related infant deaths. However, these recommendations are inconsistently adopted in communities and often rejected by parents. Studies have indicated that parents listen to nurses and model their actions regarding the sleep position of their new infant. The nurse’s behavior is essential in influencing parents to place their babies in a safe sleep environment, and staff education programs significantly increase the knowledge acquisition, attitudes, and practice intentions of these health care professionals.

Methods. This doctoral project is a component of an infant safe sleep campaign, initiated by the Vermont Department of Health (VDH). An educational module was created for nursing staff on labor and delivery units in a number of Vermont hospitals to provide them with evidence-based recommendations for infant safe-sleep practices and to highlight their vital role in providing a consistent message to parents. The module includes the current safe sleep guidelines of The American Academy of Pediatrics; risk factors for sudden unexplained infant death; common misconceptions in regard to safe sleep practices; cultural aspects of infant safe sleep; nurses as role models and educators; and the evidence behind commonly advertised products such as baby slings, baby boxes, and owlet monitors. Through the use of pre- and post-educational module viewing surveys, this project will determine how an educational module for nursing staff on labor and delivery units will impact their knowledge of infant safe sleep and the messages they provide to parents of newborns.

Results. The final product has not been implemented at this time due to delays in key informant interviews by John Snow Inc. (JSI). The data obtained from these interviews will be integrated into the final draft of the educational module by the VDH. However, nurse managers from North Country Hospital, Rutland Regional Medical Center, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, Central Vermont Medical Center, Copley Hospital, Gifford Medical Center, Northwestern Medical Center, and Porter Medical Center have viewed the most complete version of the module and have provided constructive feedback.

Conclusion. Upon initial review, the nurse managers found the educational module to be informative and believe it will help nurses to provide a consistent and evidence-based message about infant safe sleep. Once the data collected by JSI is added to the module, it will be incorporated into the healthcare learning management software and implemented as mandatory education for nurses on labor and delivery units. A number of slides from the module will also be used to create a generic presentation for all health care professionals in Vermont.

Keywords: Infant, Safe Sleep, Vermont

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons