Safer sleeping for baby campaign focus groups

New Search

Purpose The Local Safeguarding Children Boards have a major role to play in ensuring that children and young people in Lancashire are kept safe and that all agencies do what they can to promote their welfare.

Lancashire County Council's Communications Service was asked to work with a pan-Lancashire group to evaluate the existing safer sleeping campaign "Give me Room to Breathe" and to plan a campaign to be run in November 2012 to raise awareness of safer sleeping guidelines to new parents.

Focus groups were used to help understand parents' awareness of safer sleeping messages, barriers to understanding the messages and changing behaviour and to test whether there are any ways to get the advice across more effectively. The groups were also used to test some poster ideas for a campaign to promote the messages.
Subject Communications
Families and younger children
Commissioned by Communications Service
Geographic area All of Lancashire
Method Focus group
Consultation with Parents/carers
Date 20/08/2012 - 22/08/2012
Undertaken by Corporate Research and Intelligence Team


Key findings Awareness of safer sleeping message:
- Current knowledge of the safer sleeping messages was quite good amongst participants with many of the main points already known. Despite this, there is confusion about the ages to which the guidelines apply and contradictions to the guidelines from other sources.
- Some participants who breastfeed have been told that co-sleeping is ok if you are breastfeeding and have been shown 'how to do it safely'.
- Participants who had had babies with reflux problems mentioned they had been told to use a pillow to help prevent reflux but which goes against the safer sleeping guidelines.

Barriers to understanding the message and changing behaviour:
- The major barrier mentioned in keeping to the safer sleeping guidelines was said to be tiredness. Almost all participants said they had fallen asleep with baby in their bed or on a chair at some point because of this. Participants felt that the campaign should reflect this and give advice on how to co-sleep safely if it is unavoidable.
- Participants also felt that the advice on temperature was difficult to follow as it just gives an ideal temperature and no advice on what to do if you can't achieve this.
- Some participants felt that the advice to keep baby in their room until the age of six months is difficult to follow for example if baby outgrows their moses basket and there is no room for a cot in the bedroom.

Campaign testing:
- When asked how they think the campaign should get safer sleeping messages across, participants mentioned that they felt: more emphasis should be placed on sleepbags as an easy way of covering baby while sleeping, that advice should be given about what ages the guidelines apply to and when to start moving away from the guidelines; and that there should perhaps be separate advice for breast- and bottle-feeders.
- Participants mentioned many possible channels for the campaign including posters, leaflets, verbal advice and demonstrations from midwives or health visitors, online materials and advice on useful objects, for example fridge magnets.
- Although participants were familiar with the safer sleeping campaign messages, the current campaign slogan "Give me Room to Breathe" was not widely recognised. It was commonly thought to be an anti-smoking campaign.
- Participants were shown four options for a campaign to promote safer sleeping messages. They preferred the options which were lighter in tone and more colourful. A hard hitting option was received particularly negatively by participants.

Project document(s)


Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Rebecca Robinson
01772 537787

Jacqueline Evans
01772 534397