Healthy Native Babies Project (HNBP)

mom and child doing tummy time
Data show that Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths (SUID), including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), are disproportionately higher in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.

  • In 2003, SIDS rates were highest for AI/AN infants, 2.4 times those for non-Hispanic white infants. SIDS rates among AI/AN infants at this time were highest in five Indian Health Service areas in the Northern Tier: Aberdeen, Alaska, Billings, Bemidji, and Portland.
  • From 2011 through 2014, the overall SUID rate per 100,000 live births for AI/AN infants (194.1) was more than twice those of non-Hispanic white infants (83.8).
  • SIDS deaths account for the largest proportion of SUIDs for all racial and ethnic groups, including AI/AN communities.

NICHD—working with representatives from Tribes in the Northern Tier and others who serve AI/AN audiences—launched the HNBP in 2003 to assist local programs in addressing safe infant sleep in AI/AN communities.

The Project was preceded by multiple working group and focus group meetings involving AI/AN stakeholders and federal partners, as well as Tribal Elders and public health experts, to develop a comprehensive approach for how to best reach AI/AN audiences with safe sleep messages. The resulting approach focused on culturally appropriate outreach using community-tailored resources, resource stipends, training sessions, and technical assistance.

As the HNBP enters its 15th year, NICHD, working group members, and other partners are reexamining the approach and the resources to better meet the changing needs of AI/AN communities.

The HNBP Team conducted a Literature Review Summary (PDF 982 KB) to further inform future activities of the HNBP. The literature review focuses on recent studies of SIDS and SUID, related risk and protective factors, and promising practices among AI/AN communities.

Suggestion citation: Rutman, S., King Bowes, K., Simkins, G., Helvey, K., & Tanner, L. (2021). Healthy Native Babies Project: Literature review summary. Prepared for the Safe to Sleep® campaign, which is led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), NIH, HHS.  Retrieved from

We also created a Literature Review Brief (PDF 6 MB) to describe the review process.

NICHD HNBP 2022 Webinars

Webinar 1: Evidence for Helping Babies Sleep Safely in AI/AN Communities

In this first of three webinars, held February 16, 2022, HNBP consultants defined SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths, described data specific to AI/AN communities, and discussed challenges and risk and protective factors specific to AI/AN communities, within a context of historical events and resiliency.

Webinar 2: Strategies and Practical Tips for Teaching Safe Infant Sleep in AI/AN Communities

In this second of three webinars, held March 16, 2022, Healthy Native Babies Project consultants discuss approaches for promoting safe sleep practices in AI/AN communities, demonstrate practice activities that integrate tailored messages and approaches for AI/AN communities, and apply insights learned from previous Healthy Native Babies Project outreach efforts.

Webinar 3: Tools for Addressing Safe Infant Sleep in AI/AN Communities

In this third of three webinars, held April 16, 2022, HNBP consultants access and discuss tools and tailored resources for promoting safe infant sleep in AI/AN communities, explain the resources available from the Project, describe social media outreach opportunities and best practices, and share experiences from previous Project activities to promote safe infant sleep in AI/AN communities.

HNBP Materials

Select a link to view, download, or order materials, developed for the HNPB.

Safe Sleep for Your Baby Booklet

Honor the Past, Learn for the Future Handout

Healthy Native Babies Project Workbook Packet

Healthy Native Babies Project Facilitator's Packet

Healthy Native Babies Project Training Videos

This six-part video series features a train-the-trainer session for service providers held in August of 2014 in Toppenish, Washington.
Videos of Healthy Native Babies Project Train-the-Trainer Session