Talking to Families

Starting the Conversation

When you hear the term "safe sleep," what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Or, when you hear the term "unsafe sleep," what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Gauge knowledge or experience with safe sleep, and a simple way to do that is to ask the questions above - this can help frame your conversation moving forward, and what you may need to focus more on during the education...



Ask open-ended questions

Open-ended questions give you more insight into the client's lifestyle, safe sleep practices, worries, etc.

Point out the caregivers' strengths

Pointing out caregivers' strengths will build a form of trust, and the caregiver will not feel judged or pressured to do something they may not want to do.

Example: It is wonderful that you are placing Bobby on his back to sleep at night, tell me more about the blanket he sleeps with.

Example: Bobby is lucky to have a parent who cares about him so much, let's talk more about where he is sleeping at night.

Practice attentive listening

Repeating the emotions, feelings, and/or reactions of the caregiver will ensure you are listening to their point of view, rather than telling them what they need to hear.

Example: I'm hearing your fears and understand your concerns with Bobby sleeping in another room, especially with the fire you both experienced last year in the home. It was a scary time, not knowing if he was okay. Let's talk about other safe sleep options besides keeping Bobby in his own room.

Practice cultural competence

Individual values, beliefs, and behaviors about health and well-being are shaped by various factors such as race, ethnicity, nationality, language, gender, socioeconomic status, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation and occupation.

Cultural competence in health care is broadly defined as the ability of providers and organizations to understand that each person has a set of values, beliefs and behaviors shaped by various factors and to integrate these factors into the delivery and structure of the health care system.

"Start where the client is"- this phrase means looking at the client's current behavior (how she is putting her baby to sleep today) and starting the conversation from that point. It is recognizing that clients are at different levels of readiness to change and the client is truly in the driver's seat – she decides what, when, and how to change.

Some content provided with approval from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services