Conversations Approach

Building on Campaigns with Conversations

This series of learning modules is designed for a range of health professionals, human service providers, community health workers, home visitors, and peer supporters who interact with families on topics of safe sleep and breastfeeding.


Defining the Problem

Sleep-related sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is the leading cause of post-neonatal mortality in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3,700 infants die each year due to sleep-related deaths. Rates vary greatly by race and ethnicity. In addition, breastfeeding is a protective factor against sleep-related deaths and is important for the overall health and well being of infants throughout their life span. Yet, there is not universal adoption of safe sleep practices and breastfeeding, and adoption rates vary by race and ethnicity.

Addressing the Problem

Building on Campaigns with Conversations is a new approach to supporting caregivers to help overcome barriers to safe sleep and breastfeeding. It is part of a greater trend in public health promotion—utilizing an individualized approach that takes into account each family’s needs, beliefs, and the context of their lives. This training on the Conversations Approach is based on Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior and follows current recommendations from the American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) for safe sleep and optimal breastfeeding for healthy infants.

Core Modules

The modules are designed to help you understand the Conversations Approach and gain the knowledge and skills needed to implement it to promote breastfeeding and safe sleep practices.

  • A New Approach
  • How Babies Sleep and Eat
  • Understanding Current Recommendations
  • Anticipating Reluctance and Refusal
  • Respectful Dialogue and Structure of a Conversation
  • Creating Plans to Support Family Decisions
  • Putting It All Together to Make a Difference


  • Going Deeper Sections: Definitions of key terms, links to useful resources, references
  • Talk Back Sections: Answers to questions or reservations about using the Conversations Approach
  • Handouts: Information to download, print and use in your conversations with families


The modules were developed by the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health (NCEMCH) while it operated the National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep (NAPPSS, 2014-2017). The author wishes to acknowledge the extensive input from the NAPPSS coalition of over 70 national organizations who represent the service systems, providers, programs, and community support networks that touch mothers, fathers, and other infant caregivers.

Suggested Citation: Bronheim, S. (2017). Building on campaigns with conversations: An individualized approach to helping families embrace safe sleep and breastfeeding. Washington, DC: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health. Credits and copyright information.

This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UF7MC26937 for $1,500,000. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.