Not yet 'Back to Sleep': Sleep position for infants in two inner-city clinics

Eve R. Colson, Christopher J. Stille, Jessica Payton, Bruce Bernstein, Paul Dworkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective. To estimate the occurrence of prone sleep among a group of infants in two inner-city clinics and examine the factors associated with parents' choice of sleep position. Methods. A convenience sample of 80 parents (76 mothers and 4 fathers) was interviewed between June and October 1997, during their healthy, term infant's 2-week health supervision visit. The interview included questions about sleep position practices, knowledge, and beliefs; knowledge about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); education about SIDS; and socio-demographic data. All participants received post-interview SIDS education. Results. Thirty-one percent of parents reported that they placed their infants to sleep in the prone position at least some of the time. Factors associated with prone sleeping included prior child-rearing experience (P = 0.005) and the opinion of other people that were regarded as important (P = 0.0001). Only 20% of parents usually had their child sleep on its back. The majority worried that the child would vomit and choke while lying on its back. Parents who chose to position their infant to sleep on its back were less likely to describe themselves as Hispanic (P = 0.025) and more likely to remember being told to have the infant sleep on its back by a health care provider (P = 0.001). Just over one-half of parents recall receiving sleep position instructions from a health care provider. More than 60% of these parents remember being told to place the infant on the side, 24% the back and none prone. Teen parents were more likely to remember being given sleep instructions (P = 0.033). Parents with older children were less likely to remember receiving sleep position instructions (P = 0.001). Conclusions/implications for practice. Many parents in our urban practice still put their children to sleep in the prone position at least some of the time. Family and friends, as well as prior child-rearing experience influence the choice. Parents are more likely to choose the supine position if they are instructed to do so by a health care provider. However, many parents do not recall such instruction being routinely given by their health care provider and have concerns for the safety of supine sleeping. Efforts to promote sleeping on the back should address parental concerns and health care provider practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-275
Number of pages7
JournalAmbulatory Child Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000


  • Infant
  • Prone position
  • Risk factor
  • Sleep
  • Sudden infant death
  • Urban population


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