Does Your Child Care Provider Practice Safe Sleep? Tips That Could Save Your Child’s Life
posted by: Guest Blogger
Tragically, approximately 50 infants in Colorado die unexpectedly each year while they sleep. Most of these sleep-related infant deaths are preventable. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to protect your baby.
October is Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month. As a mom, an a family in-home child care provider and an instructor for other early childhood care providers, I want to share with you some tips for talking with your child care providers about safe sleep for babies.
The State of Colorado has requirements for infant sleep in licensed child care facilities. And, of course, most child care providers know the latest safe sleep guidelines and practice them diligently. Still, it’s always good to have a conversation with your caregiver about safe sleep practices.
It’s important for everyone who cares for your child to be on the same page in relation to safe sleep because if practices vary from home to child care, the risk to your baby is multiplied – not only due to potentially unsafe sleep environments, but also due to possible disruptions in your infant’s sleep habits.
What is Safe Sleep?
First, let’s review some safe sleep guidelines so that we all understand what safe sleep looks like:
- Practice the ABC’s of safe sleep for infants: Infants should be Alone on their Backs and in a C
- The only things that should be present in a crib are a firm mattress, a fitted sheet and a sleeping baby.
- Just say no to the cute décor items you might find in a baby store – no crib bumpers, pillows, blankets or stuffed animals.
- Put your baby in a sleep sack instead of using a blanket, and make sure there are no pacifier clips or bibs attached to your child.
You can find a complete list of safe sleep guidelines on the Colorado Shines website.
Talking About Safe Sleep with Child Care Providers
Now that you’re up to speed on the ins and outs of safe sleep, let’s make a plan to discuss safe sleep with your child care provider.
Find a couple minutes to chat with your child care provider when you’re picking up or dropping off your baby. If you’re searching for child care, make sure this is part of the interview process. Tell them that you’ve been reading up on safe sleep and want to better understand their training and policies on safe sleep for babies – and ask to see their sleep policy. Print this brochure about sleep safety at child care and give it to them.
If you are unsure exactly where your baby sleeps while in child care, ask to see it. If the child care provider does not stay in the same room with your baby while he is sleeping, do they have a monitor to regularly check in on him? Inquire about how your baby is positioned when laid down for a nap. Ask what they do to keep your baby warm when the room is cold – make sure they use a sleep sack or adjust the room temperature instead of using blankets. When your baby is having tummy time, is someone always there to make sure she hasn’t nodded off to sleep?
For more information on talking with your child care provider about safe sleep, visit the Colorado Shines website and select Tips to Talk to Your Child Care Provider or Trusted Caregiver. I highly recommend that you review the inspection reports of your licensed child care provider, too. If your provider has a previous sleep-related violation, it is critical that you ask them what steps they have taken to correct the problem.
If you’re feeling inspired, check out this safe sleep photo contest. The winner will choose a nonprofit to receive a $1,000 grant to help support families and prevent child maltreatment.
Katherine Apjoke is a Broomfield-based, licensed family in-home child care provider with a Level 5 rating (the highest possible) from Colorado Shines. She is also an Expanding Quality in Infant and Toddler Care (EQIT) instructor and coach, and the EQIT Coordinator for the Broomfield Early Childhood Council. Katherine has been working in Early Childhood Education for almost 20 years. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and best friend. They have two grown boys, a daughter-in-law and two beautiful granddaughters. Early Childhood Education is her passion.