There's an App for That! Infant Sleep App Helps New Parents to Navigate Those Challenging First Weeks and Months

infantsleepapp.jpegAs childbirth educators and birth professionals, we cover the topic of infant sleep frequently during a childbirth class. Preparing families for the transition to parenting a newborn, breastfeeding and navigating the postpartum period cannot effectively happen without talking about how to reduce the risk of SIDS, the feeding needs of newborns, and what a safe sleep environment looks like.  Expectant families may have ideas about where and with whom their newborn will sleep, but after the baby arrives, realities may be considerably different than their "before baby" expectations. Educators have a responsibility to discuss what safe sleep looks like and how to keep a baby safe whether parents are bed-sharing, room-sharing or their newborn is sleeping in their own room, (which is not recommended).

While receiving the information during class time is valuable, retention and and even more importantly, application of the information, weeks or months later, after babies have arrived, presents a challenge for many families.  The Infant Sleep Information Source (ISIS) in cooperation with Dr. Helen Ball, infant sleep expert and the Durham University Parent-Infant Sleep Lab and other organizations, provides up-to-date research based evidence about infant sleep, in forms which are accessible to parents and health professionals, supported by references to research relevant to families in the UK and worldwide.

In addition to a comprehensive website, ISIS has developed a free interactive smart phone and tablet app that parents can use to access current and evidence based information about infant sleep and safe sleeping environments.  This free app is availale to download for IOS and Android devices.

The Infant Sleep App offers several key features including the following:

• Bed-sharing decision tool.
• Where will my baby sleep?
• How will my baby sleep?
• Sleep log to track baby’s sleep
• Sleep safety and SIDS
• Links to ISIS info sheets.
• Links to ISIS partner organizations
infant sleep .pngParents are easily able to access this tool wherever they are in order to quickly, concisely and accurately answer their infant sleep questions.  Parents and caregivers can read information about the benefits and risks of all the sleep choices (room sharing, bed sharing, separate rooms etc.) in order to make a decision that feels right to them.
There is a quick quiz consisting of several questions to determine if bed-sharing can be done safely with each parent's individual circumstances (have the parents been consuming alcohol, is the baby formula fed, etc).  After answering the questions, the app advises if there are situations that might increase the risk of bed-sharing.
Parents can access information about how their newborn's sleep pattern changes as they grow and age, and what to realistically expect. There is also a sleep log to track their infant's sleep and this history is retrievable in both log and graph form, which is plotted against what is normal for a baby of similar age. (Not sure if this might make parents feel better or worse?)  This sleep log information can be shared in several electronic formats with others, including health care providers.
Finally, there is an exhaustive library of additional resources of both pdfs and online resources that parents can access for additional information and help, or if they have further questions.

I think this app is a great tool to both reinforce what families have learned in their childbirth education classes and to offer evidence based information in the exact sleep-deprived and confusing moment when parents are wondering what is normal and how they can safely and appropriately maximize sleep while meeting their baby's developmental needs. 

The fact that it is a free app available to all and published by a very reputable and well respected international infant sleep organization makes this product an excellent choice for guiding new parents through those first tender days, weeks and months.  Today's parents (Millennials) expect "on demand", accurate information accessible to them on their smart devices and this Infant Sleep App effictively meets both those needs.

sleep sids.pngI encourage you to download and explore the app yourself and consider recommending this Infant Sleep App to the families you work with in your childbirth education classes, with your doula clients or as a patient in your OB or midwifery practice.

 Science & Sensibility has covered the topic of newborn and infant sleep in previous posts. You may want to check out the information in some previous posts as well.

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