Back to Basics, Back to Baby – ‘the little tube’

Every Safe Sleep workshop we deliver is very important and very rewarding. But, it is always nice when you get that feeling that you have made the audience think about something differently – that little ‘eureka’ moment when we say to ourselves “that’s really simple, why didn’t we think of this ages ago?!” – Thankfully, we have had that lot over the last year or so when we told people about ‘the little tube’. 

If you have attended one of our Safe Sleep sessions, you would have heard us talk about our interest in the way others around the world adopt Safe Sleep into their health and childcare practice. In particular, you will have seen us demonstrate ‘the little tube’ – a simple visual aid to highlight the size and fragility of a baby’s airway.

This approach has been used in New Zealand for a while now and it has contributed to a greater understanding and with this a lowering of SUDI rates (together with other initiatives such a the Pepi-Pod). The rationale here is that by focusing on how babies breathe and identifying risks of accidental suffocation, safe sleep messages are re-framed and will resonate more with audiences.

Often, many do know what the Safe Sleep guidance is – back to sleep, baby’s own firm and flat surface, etc. But by understanding more about how baby breathes, we can understand why these messages are so important. – more often than not it’s directly about keeping baby’s airways clear.

Our ‘well used’ prop kindly given to us by Change For Our Children in New Zealand –

So, having used the ‘little tube’ sent all the way from New Zealand for the last year, we created our own – with permission, of course.

This small leaflet will help illustrate key differences between newborns and grown-ups such are their inability to hold their head up and the fact babies predominantly breathe through their nose. The attached tube can be used to show how easy it is for this small ‘airway’ to be covered/blocked or kinked. Together with this re-framed knowledge, we hope everyone will have a greater understanding of the Safe Sleep messages we all discuss.

” An area we feel strongly we can influence is that of preventable SUDI. Sadly each year some babies and young children do die from accidental suffocation because of their sleep environment. These are deaths which can absolutely be avoided but only when the messages are clear so parents and carers know what they can do to remove risks. We know from our friends in New Zealand that this approach works and we hope by adopting their model and having transparent conversations we too can help reduce our SUDI rates in Scotland. “                             – Lynsay Allan, Executive Director, Scottish Cot Death Trust

This resource is part of SafeSleepScotland’s larger #BacktoBasicsBacktoBaby campaign where we want to increase awareness of how we can reduce the Risks of SUDI by promoting and having non-judgmental conversations about Safe Sleep.

If you are a Healthcare professional and you think this leaflet would be useful, please get in touch at
 The aim is to  get this resource to every ‘new family-facing’ health professional in Scotland by the end of 2020.
This resource forms a big part of our Safe Sleep education workshops – please email if an online chat about Safe Sleep would benefit your team.