Behavior Theory may Explain Safe Infants’ Sleeping Position

Improvements in Infant Sleep Position.


According to Yale and Boston University (BU), many caregivers put infants in unsafe sleeping positions. Almost half of the infants are placed on their backs for sleep, which is considered as safe infants’ sleeping position.

Some factors influence the probability of a parental figure placing infants in unsafe sleeping positions. It includes race, education level, and doctor’s advice. But a new study revealed that another factor Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) variable, may also affect this likelihood. It merely involves attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived control.

Many doctors suggest, that placing on back for sleep is best for infants’ sleeping position. It may decrease Sudden Unexpected Infant Death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

While there have been previous surveys of American mothers about their infants’ sleeping position. But, this is the first study that may explain behavior theory factors. It may explain potential reasons for putting a baby on their back or not.

Scientists involved almost 3,297 mothers in the study. During the study, 77.3% mothers reported that they generally place their babies on the back for sleep. But almost 44% of them practiced the ‘gold standard’ of both intending to place their infant on their back for sleep and always doing so in practice.

Dr. Eve Colson, professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine said, “We looked at what drives people’s behavior for adhering to safe infant sleeping practices, and found that so much of what influences their decision-making has to do with attitudes and subjective norms.”

“What do people around you do? What do you see people do? Who is your adviser, and what advice are they giving you? All these factors are very important as they affect the behavior of new parents.”

When they tested one of the behavioral factors perceived control, they found it is the main cause that mainly causes of the difference between intention and action.

Colson explained, “For example, I want to exercise, but I don’t have time to exercise. Or, in terms of safe sleep practices, I want to put the baby on its back to sleep, but my mom doesn’t follow this direction when she’s babysitting.”

“The study updates the statistics on the prevalence of using certain sleep positions. In addition, it also provides a good sample of methods we used gave us the most nationally representative sample of infant safe sleep practices yet.”

“Lastly, by asking these new questions guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior we have a much better view of what people are actually doing and the actual barriers that exist to them practicing ‘gold standard’ sleep safety.”

“Identifying these barriers allowed us to identify the potential for intervention.”

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