This Tool Personally Creates a Sleep Plan for Your Baby That Avoids SIDS

We have affiliate relationships where we are paid a commission on sales through some of our links. See our disclosures.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a devastating event that leaves families grappling with unimaginable grief and a multitude of unanswered questions. Finding a solution to reduce risks could prevent heartache for thousands of families every year. 

One potential solution is a new online Baby Sleep Planner tool that guides parents through the often confusing and contradictory advice about safe baby sleep (1). Developed by the University of Bristol, the tool assists parents in creating personalized sleep plans for their babies to reduce the risk of SIDS and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI).

How Common Is SIDS?

SIDS is the primary culprit of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) cases, which are unanticipated and tragic events where an infant less than a year old passes away, and the cause isn’t immediately apparent.

In 2020, the United States reported approximately 3,400 SUDI cases, which include SIDS, unknown causes, and accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. SIDS accounted for about 41 percent of these cases, or 1,389 deaths. (2)

According to the CDC, SUDI rates have dropped significantly since 1990 as more awareness and proactive advice about using the right types of bedding, cribs, mattresses, and other best practices have spread. But the rate of decline has slowed since 1999, and in 2020, the SUDI rate was 92.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, a slight uptick from years prior.

It’s a harsh reality that families living in the most deprived neighborhoods continue to experience a disproportionately higher rate of SUDI. For instance, last year, Bristol’s National Child Mortality Database found that 42 percent of SUDIs occurred in deprived neighborhoods, compared with 8 percent in the least deprived.

There’s a need for targeted interventions and support for these at-risk families, which is one motivating factor behind the creation of The Baby Sleep Planner, developed by the University of Bristol. This online tool aims to reduce the risk of SIDS through personalized sleep plans created with parents.

What Is the Baby Sleep Planner

The Baby Sleep Planner results from a comprehensive study conducted by the University of Bristol to develop and evaluate an online tool that could help parents create personalized sleep plans for their babies, thereby reducing the risk of SIDS/SUDI.

One aspect of this study that stands out is the co-design approach, with researchers and parents involved in every step of the design process. The study included a hands-on testing process with a diverse group of 58 families and 22 health professionals who tested the tool and gave feedback on improving its user-friendliness and practicality to better meet families’ needs.

How it Works

The Baby Sleep Planner is a digital companion that helps parents navigate confusing and contradictory baby sleep advice from family, friends, and the media. It guides them through creating a safe sleep environment at home with personalized sleep plans centered around reducing the risk of SIDS/SUDI. Advice and planning tips stem from organizations that promote infant health and safety, such as the Lullaby Trust, UNICEF, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The tool consists of two main components — risk assessment and safety planning. The risk assessment component helps parents identify potential risks in their baby’s sleep environment by asking questions about their sleep habits, environment, and other factors that could contribute to SIDS/SUDI. Once the risks are identified, the tool moves to the safety planning measures and creates a personalized sleep plan. The plan includes actionable steps that parents can take to counteract dangers and create a safer sleep environment for their baby.

Findings from the Study

One important finding from the study is that personalized sleep plans can help parents make informed decisions about their baby’s sleep environment, potentially reducing the risk of SIDS. 

Feedback received from health professionals and families in the study was overwhelmingly positive. The tool was highly praised for including evidence-based advice about safe sleep practices and providing a personalized experience that takes into account each family’s unique circumstances to create a plan that works for them. Many parents reported a boost in confidence and less anxiety about their baby’s sleep after using the tool.

Health professionals and families involved suggested some ways to expand the tool’s use, such as providing information during pregnancy when parents are actively seeking advice and are less tired from parenting responsibilities. This will help them prepare for their baby’s arrival and potentially reduce the risk of SIDS. Another suggestion was to make the tool available in multiple languages so it can be accessed by non-English-speaking families who may be at a higher risk of SIDS.

The Potential Impact of the Baby Sleep Planner

Personalized sleep plans have the potential to significantly reduce SIDS/SUDI rates, which is especially important for socio-economically deprived neighborhoods where SIDS/SUDI rates are disproportionately high.

Health professionals can also use the tool in their practice to help identify at-risk families and improve communication about safer sleep, provide families with clear, evidence-based advice about safe sleep, and dispel myths and misconceptions about baby sleep.

But the true value of the Baby Sleep Planner lies in empowering families — the peace of mind and assurance that comes from creating a safe sleep environment for your little one is priceless.

  • 1. University of Bristol, “New baby sleep planner tool could help save babies lives at risk of sudden infant death,”; February 26, 2024.

  • 2. CDC; “Sudden Unexpected Infant Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Data and Statistics,” Centers for Disease Control;; 2020.

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson

Rachel MacPherson, BA, is a CPT, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Exercise Nutrition Specialist, Certified Pre/Post-Partum Fitness Trainer, and Pain-Free Performance Specialist. She's passionate about providing readers with straightforward, actionable tips to make living an active, vibrant, fulfilling life easier. When she's not writing, you can find her lifting heavy things, reading, exploring outdoors, or watching the newest iteration of the Star Wars Universe. She lives with her family and pets in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada.

Leave a Comment