Despite more than 20 years of “back to sleep” and “safe to sleep” campaigns promoting safe infant sleep practices, many parents still don’t follow these guidelines. The upward trend in sleep-related deaths led the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition to ask one question: Why?
The answer — from more than 600 parents and caregivers in Northeast Florida — is complex. Breastfeeding was the leading cause overall for bedsharing, followed by feeling close to baby and feeling safer with the baby in bed. Some identified sleeping in bed with a parent, caregiver or sibling as safe, while others thought napping with a baby on the chest in a recliner was safe.
But there were numerous geographical breakdowns that painted a clearer picture:
- In Baker, Clay and Nassau counties, more than one in five identified a caregiver/babysitter’s arms while reclining in a chair as safe sleep for naps
- In Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1, one in 10 parents listed crime as a reason for bedsharing.
- In 32209, 17 percent said they bedshare because they have no other place for baby to sleep.
- In 32210, one-third of caregivers/babysitters don’t have crib, pack-n-play or bassinet for baby to sleep in.
Parents and caregivers responded to a questionnaire, distributed both online and by community partners, about their knowledge of safe sleep practices, why they may bedshare with their infant and caregivers access to a safe place for babies to sleep. The survey was piloted at the Magnolia Project and expanded as part of the NEFL Fetal & Infant Mortality Review, both initiatives of the Coalition. The March of Dimes Florida Chapter funded the project.