Key Moments in Safe to Sleep® History: 2004–2013

2004        2005        2006        2008        2009        2010        2011        2012        2013


The Back to Sleep campaign marks its 10th anniversary by reaffirming its commitment to spreading safe sleep messages in all communities.

NICHD research shows that community education programs in African American communities to teach safe sleep messages have a major positive impact and that such efforts are effective for achieving high rates of back sleeping among African American infants.

Map of MississippiA new initiative launches to spread safe sleep messages throughout Mississippi, which has some of the highest SIDS and infant mortality rates in the United States. The initiative is a collaboration among the NICHD, the HHS Office of Minority Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Mississippi State Department of Health, the Mississippi SIDS Coalition, the Mississippi SIDS Alliance, the Mississippi Infant Mortality Task Force, Delta Health Partners, the Mississippi Faith-Based Coalition, the Mississippi Head Start Association, and Woman to Woman.

The NICHD and its collaborators in American Indian and Alaska Native communities form the Healthy Native Babies Project Workgroup. The workgroup works with and within five IHS regions to determine the best messages and methods for spreading culturally appropriate safe sleep and infant health information in Native communities. The IHS regions are Aberdeen (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska), Alaska, Bemidji (Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin), Billings (Montana and Wyoming), and Portland (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington).

The NICHD runs PSAs on radio stations around the country to help educate African American parents, grandparents, and other caregivers about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS. The Institute also displays ads on buses in the Washington, DC, area to help spread the message.


Healthy Native Babies logoThe Healthy Native Babies Project Workgroup, led by the NICHD, starts the Healthy Native Babies Project to create culturally appropriate materials and messages for use in the five IHS regions of the Northern Tierof the United States with the highest SIDS rates.

The AAP Task Force revises its policy statement about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS. The new recommendations reinforce exclusive use of the back sleep position for every sleep, a firm sleep surface with no loose bedding or blankets, and a separate sleep area for baby. The recommendations also warn against letting baby get too warm during sleep and suggest using a pacifier to help reduce SIDS risk. The Back to Sleep campaign revises its messages and materials to reflect these recommendations.


Continuing Education Program on SIDS coverThe NICHD, the National Institute of Nursing Research, First Candle (formerly SIDS Alliance), and other nursing and national organizations release the Continuing Education Program on SIDS Risk Reduction: Curriculum for NursesThe self-study course teaches nurses about SIDS, SIDS risk reduction, and easy ways to model and communicate safe sleep messages to caregivers. Partners in this effort include the Academy of Neonatal Nursing; the American College of Midwives; the Association of SIDS and Infant Mortality Programs; the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses; the March of Dimes; the National Alaska Native/American Indian Nurses Association; the National Association of Neonatal Nurses; the National Association of Pediatric Nurses and Nurse Practitioners; the Society of Pediatric Nursing; and the Washington State Department of Health. The course is accredited by the Maryland Nurses Association for 1.1 CE or credit hours.

The NICHD expands its initiative in Mississippi, creating the Mississippi African American SIDS Outreach Project in collaboration with community- and faith-based organizations across the state. The expanded initiative builds on the 2004 effort to further expand and coordinate SIDS risk reduction education and activities in African American communities in Mississippi.

The NICHD, in collaboration with the SIDS Network of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsors a 2-day statewide SIDS summit at the historical Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, OH. The summit ends with a "SIDS Sunday," with community leaders using Sunday church services as an opportunity to teach people how to reduce the risk of SIDS.

The Healthy Native Babies Project Workgroup, led by the NICHD, refines its strategies for reaching out to American Indian and Alaska Native communities with SIDS risk reduction information. It also supports training sessions in the five IHS regions to gather input from representatives and those who work with Native communities to further inform the Healthy Native Babies Project.


Back to Sleep partners, led by the NICHD, begin a collaboration with national pharmacy organizations to create a self-led CE module about SIDS risk reduction for pharmacists. The collaboration includes the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, First Candle, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the National Community Pharmacists Association.


Safe Sleep for Your Baby - American Indian and Alaska Native community's brochure coverThe Back to Sleep campaign releases its first outreach materials specifically for American Indian and Alaska Native communities—a brochure and a flyer—as part of the Healthy Native Babies Project.

The NICHD joins the text4baby™ program, led by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The program will deliver evidence-based health information about pregnancy and baby's first year directly to cell phones and mobile devices. Among the messages included in text4baby are the safe sleep recommendations included in Back to Sleep campaign materials.

After significant efforts of the NICHD and its partners in Mississippi, the Mississippi Child Death Review Panel Annual Reports for 2007–2010 provide evidence that SIDS deaths have dropped by 35 percent statewide during the previous 3 years of the Mississippi African American SIDS Outreach Project. The state data also show that the gap has narrowed in the disparity in SIDS rates between African American and white babies.


The NICHD launches an online version of the Continuing Education Program on SIDS Risk Reduction: Curriculum for Nurses to help provide maximum flexibility for nurses who want to take the course.


The AAP Task Force expands its recommendations to focus on a safe sleep environment that can reduce the risk for all sleep-related infant deaths including SIDS.  These expanded recommendations include regular prenatal care, breastfeeding, and making sure infants receive all recommended vaccinations.

Healthy Native Babies Project Workshop Packet coverThe NICHD's Healthy Native Babies Project Workgroup releases the Healthy Native Babies Project Workbook PacketThe workbook describes the science of SIDS, reducing the risk of SIDS, ways to change SIDS risk factors in American Indian and Alaska Native households, and tips for health outreach in Native communities. The workbook also contains a handout that relies on images to help explain SIDS risk reduction and a toolkit CD-ROM that allows outreach staff to customize materials for different tribes and different Native areas and languages.

In its collaboration to reduce SIDS in Mississippi, the NICHD awards more than 108 mini-grants to community- and faith-based organizations to provide SIDS training to parents and caregivers and to enable local health and outreach leaders to hold workshops in all nine public health districts across the state.

The Institute launches SIDS Risk Reduction: A Continuing Education Activity for Pharmacists online. It provides an "anytime, anywhere" way for busy pharmacists to receive CE credit hours, and it capitalizes on the personal connection between pharmacists and their patients as an effective way to spread safe sleep messages.


Safe to Sleep logoAfter extensive qualitative research, the NICHD and its collaborators expand the campaign to emphasize its continued focus on safe sleep environments and back sleeping as ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. The expanded campaign, called Safe to Sleep®, continues to incorporate new and evolved science-based information on key issues of safe infant sleep into easy-to-understand outreach messages, materials, and activities.

As part of the newly expanded Safe to Sleep® campaign, the NICHD revises the campaign materials to incorporate the 2011 AAP Task Force recommendations and the new campaign identity. The Institute also reaches out to existing and potential campaign collaborators to reinvigorate partnership and outreach activities related to safe sleep.

The NICHD creates a Safe to Sleep® Champions initiative to enlist people across the country to help share safe sleep messages in their local areas. Spokespersons, called Safe to Sleep® Champions, leverage their reach of media and community members to raise awareness about the campaign and key messages about SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.


The NICHD launches its new Safe to Sleep® website to educate caregivers—parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, child care providers, health care providers, and others—about ways to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death. The expanded site also offers resources and campaign materials that the media and broader community can use to help spread safe sleep messages.