Helping Keep Infants Safe While They Sleep

CHALLENGE:

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood engaged SE2 to develop a campaign to increase understanding of the safest way for infants under one year to sleep, and encourage families to incorporate safe sleep practices into their babies’ bedtime routine. The guidelines are based on safe sleep best practices established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While based on scientific research, these safe sleep best practices raise cultural sensitivities. Many families, including but not limited to some from Latino and immigrant communities, choose to co-sleep with infants to soothe the child and help parents get much-needed rest. The practice is often passed along through cultural traditions and important influencers in parents’ lives such as grandmothers.

Additionally, it’s difficult for families with limited income to comfortably heat their homes and purchase infant-specific beds and bedding. That’s a challenge because the safe sleep guidelines recommend against blankets or other soft bedding.

The State of Colorado wanted to develop a campaign that was culturally sensitive and recognized the realities families face, but also reflected best practices for keeping infants safe while sleeping.

WHAT WE DID:

SE2 facilitated a discussion group of professionals who work with parents of young children, including doulas, midwives and nurses. We also conducted a statewide survey of 400 Colorado parents of children under two.

We wanted to understand what families think and believe about safe sleep practices and what messages might compel them to adopt safe sleep practices. The discussion group emphasized the importance of kind, nurturing and compassionate messages to reinforce what providers say is safe for their children. A key: recognizing that parents are doing what they think is best for their family and respecting their values and motivations.

The survey showed that parents generally understand the need for a safe sleeping environment but start to disagree when asked about specific safe sleep practices such as having infants sleep on their back and alone in a crib without toys or blankets.

SE2 developed a culturally sensitive and approachable campaign featuring the most accessible and comforting of all mediums: a bedtime story. We brought it to life in video, digital and printable flyer formats. The campaign took a warm, encouraging approach, steering clear of anything that came close to lecturing or finger-wagging.

DISSEMINATION:

SE2 executed a $75,000 paid media campaign to reach parents of young children, including Spanish-speaking, lower-income, rural and immigrant families. Digital platforms included Google Search, Facebook, YouTube and display ads. 

We also worked with the Infant Safe Sleep Partnership to distribute digital and printable materials around the state. 

OUTCOMES: 

In just 4.5 months, the campaign accumulated over 25 million impressions, 56,000 clicks and an average .22% click-through

 rate.

The campaign outperformed industry benchmarks by two and three times the standard metrics, and Facebook and Search were the top drivers of clicks and engagement. The largest demographic to engage with the Facebook ads (English and Spanish) were females, aged 25-34, and more than 90% of interactions came from mobile ads. 

The largest audience to engage with the Safe Sleep YouTube ads (English and Spanish) were males ages 18-24 (Spanish) and 25-34 (English). Because of this, the next iteration of the campaign could benefit from ads targeted at the 18-24 population on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. 

Based on the performance data and the newly refreshed creative (produced in August of 2023 to incorporate grandparent and father caretakers), we’re well-positioned to continue the momentum with future media campaigns.