First Candle’s Straight Talk Training Improves Knowledge of Safe Sleep Guidelines

In early August Barb Himes, First Candle’s Director of Education and Training, spoke at the 46th annual conference of the National Black Nurses Association, presenting an overview of our Straight Talk for Infant Sleep program, which follows the Safe Sleep Guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

First Candle launched Straight Talk in 2017, developing the curriculum in collaboration with HRSA’s National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep (NAPPSS). The innovative two-part program first educates community providers, including health care professionals, social workers and daycare providers, on the importance and rationale behind the Safe Sleep Guidelines, and the obstacles and objections that parents face in adopting them.

The providers are then able to work with parents and other family members in a collaborative manner to discuss any biases or concerns they may have in following the guidelines, which could prevent sleep-related infant death.

As part of its provider orientation to Straight Talk, First Candle conducts pre- and post-training surveys, to help understand the status of awareness about safe sleep practices. The results of First Candle’s pre-and post-training survey during the NBNA conference indicated:

  • 39% could name two guidelines. This increased to 61% post-training.
  • 52% were aware not to put blankets in the sleep environment. This increased to 78% post-training.
  • 56% recognized a car seat or stroller was not a safe infant sleep environment. This increased to 87% post-training.
  • 65% knew the supine (face up) sleep position helps prevent choking and aspiration. This increased to 87% post-training.
  • 74% knew breastfeeding reduced the rate of SIDS. This increased to 78% post-training.

Following the training, 61% of the participants reported that the course’s teachings on personal biases changed how they would deliver information to their patients/clients; 70% said they will use the information to promote behavior change; and 74% will set up a staff training.

“This is encouraging, because the participants also noted that in many hospitals safe sleep guidelines are not being discussed with new mothers, and they also felt this program could help staff and hospital administrators understand the need to communicate this information,” Himes said.

The NBNA presentation was supported by funding from MAM USA, as part of its commitment to safe infant sleep.

First Candle offers the Straight Talk for Infant Sleep training program to community organizations, agencies and hospitals. To learn more about arranging a training, contact Barbara Himes at