We told you, our online community, that we needed your help. We wanted to know what you do when you see or hear of a friend, co-worker or relative practicing unsafe sleep. And, you responded in a big way. Thank you.
Bottom line, no matter how skilled or educated the deliverer, these conversations are not easy. They can often lead to misunderstanding and judgment on the part of the giver and receiver of advice. Mostly, we learned that navigating the wild world of parenting in the digital age, in particular, is tough.
Which caused us to ask: is all advice and concern for child safety mom-shaming? We’d like to think not. So, we took what you said and came up with 5 key strategies to make these conversations more comfortable and effective.
Start off the conversation with something positive. If you go in guns blazing, the receiver is less likely to listen.
“Your little one has the sweetest smile.” Or, “your baby’s room is so beautifully decorated!” Whatever positive affirmation you choose, be genuine.
Use empathy to express your understanding. “I’ve been where you are” or “Man, it is so tough” or “I get it, I used to cry in my car.” Anything, you can say that allows you to connect to the feeling of being overwhelmed or desperately tired is a good place to start.
If you or someone you know has lost a baby, tell your story. “After we lost Bryson, we became safe sleep advocates. We were not aware of the dangers beforehand. And, I would never want anyone to experience the same pain we have.”
Always feel free to use Charlie’s story.
This is a good tip. People seem more likely to listen if they are asked permission before being educated.
Not sure how to go about this? One commenter gave a great example: “Oh my goodness, what a precious baby! Look at that tuft of hair! I noticed that there’s a lot of stuff in the crib. Would it be ok if I shared some information with you about sleep safety?”
When possible use stats and visuals. For example: “Your baby is at a higher rate for suffocation if XYZ.”
Finally, (and this is a big one) ask if there is anything you can do to help them. Information is only as good as the tools one must use to execute that information. Offer to be there for the person via middle of the night texts, meals, conversation. One commenter suggested to help troubleshoot any issues that are leading to unsafe sleep habits.
You can even encourage them to join the Facebook group Safe Infant Sleep - Evidence-Based Support Group for daily encouragement from parents committed to safe sleep.