Let’s Talk Community Chats 

Since the launch of the Back to Sleep campaign in 1994, First Candle has worked with public health providers, doulas, families, and community advocates and has come to understand the real-world challenges facing parents as they try to follow safe sleep recommendations.

Unfortunately, for two decades the rate of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) has remained the same and more than two times as high among Black babies, despite safe sleep guidelines.

In order to finally bring about real change and save babies’ lives, we must address the obstacles and objections of families in adopting safe sleep practices.  This requires meeting families where they’re at, recognizing and respecting their lived experiences, cultural beliefs, socio-economic realities and acknowledging the role of structural racism.

Trusted community providers such as doulas, social service agencies and faith-based leaders are the conduit to engaging with families and having authentic conversations, educating, and supporting them on safe sleep practices, breastfeeding, and the safe and proper use of infant products.

With this in mind, in Spring 2022 First Candle launched its Let’s Talk Community Chat program, offering families the chance to find education and support, free of charge, around safe sleep and breastfeeding every month at convenient locations in their neighborhoods.

These community gatherings bring new parents together with doulas and lactation consultants, plus fathers and other caregivers who have gone through our Straight Talk for Infant Safe Sleep program and become trained facilitators. Families can share their challenges and concerns about the birthing process, where their baby will sleep, questions about breastfeeding and other sleep-related issues. The conversations are in-depth, supportive, and free of judgement.

What our Let’s Talk Community Chats do:

  • Bring resources and trainers together locally on a regular basis, to help reach families who may not have the chance for in-depth talks with health care providers about safe sleep, support on breastfeeding, or well-baby visits.
  • Recognize that the information they may have already gotten could have come across as a one-size-fits-all directive rather than a conversation based on their needs. Unlike traditional trade fairs, Let’s Talk gives families time for in-depth one-on-one conversations about their unique situations.
  • Provide supplies such diapers, sleep sacks and other items, as well as connections to agencies and other resources families may need.

The goal is to give everyone in the family – parents, siblings, relatives, and other caregivers – clear information about safe sleep practices, the reasoning behind the AAP Safe Sleep guidelines, and talk with them about the challenges, obstacles, and choices they make about where and how their baby sleeps.

The first Let’s Talk Community Chat was held in Harlem in New York City, in partnership with Hope Center Harlem and the Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, and with support from the Ryan Wolfe Kossar Foundation. The program is also being rolled out in Georgia in partnership with Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and supported by Regal Lager.

If you are interested in learning more about the program or partnering with First Candle to set up a program in your community contact Alison Jacobson at alison@firstcandle.org.