Safe Sleep at Daycare

I normally like to keep things light on my blog when it comes to giving advice.  We’re all doing our best and none of us is perfect. (What’s the fun in that!?)  But today I want to talk about something serious.  My goal isn’t to freak out new parents or shame anyone.  My aim is only to inform.

As parents, one of the biggest decisions we make in our children’s early lives is to choose their caretakers. There are so many factors to consider: is the staff friendly? is the facility clean? is it within my budget? Many of us overlook the most important question: does my daycare provide safe sleeping conditions 100% of the time?


Unfortunately, not all daycare providers or nannies are up-to-date with the latest recommendations for safe sleep practices. (You may have read one of the recent alarming articles about infants dying at daycare because of unsafe sleep conditions). It thus falls to parents to educate ourselves on what is safe (and what isn’t) and ensure that our child always sleeps in a secure environment–at home and at daycare.


Need a quick refresher? The NIH has a great infographic about what a safe sleep environment looks like–this is especially important for children 12 months or younger. The jist of it: your baby should be placed on his back into a crib or bassinet that has a firm mattress. Nothing else should be placed in the crib. Devices designed for sitting (such as a car seats, baby swings, or strollers) are not recommended for routine sleep–especially not in a group setting like daycare. Swaddled babies should never be placed in swings, Rock ‘n Plays, bouncy chairs, etc.–again, especially not at daycare.


How can you ensure that your daycare facility respects safe sleep practices? Here’s a list of questions to ask during the interview process, which was compiled by Katie Kovaleski, Director of the Safe Sleep Initiative for the Family Sleep Institute.


    • What if my baby appears cold during a nap? Would you use a blanket either under or over him? (A blanket should never be placed in the crib for a baby under 12 months).


    • If my baby is extra fussy, would you place her on her stomach? (Absolutely unacceptable for young babies).


    • How many monitors are present (physically or otherwise) during sleep periods?(Your baby should be monitored at all times while sleeping).


    • If I brought my baby sleeping in his car seat, would you leave him to sleep there? (This is a no: sleeping upright in a car is okay but you want to transfer the baby to a crib to sleep when outside of the car).


    • Would you let my baby sleep in an upright position in a swing? (This is also a no).


    • Would you swaddle my baby and leave him in a swing or seat? (This is a huge NO).

    • Please list all the potential napping places where you would let my child sleep — swing, couch, chair, rock n’play, etc. (Note: None of these are okay except a crib or bassinet that contains only the child, a fitted sheet, and the mattress. While you may employ some of these nap locations at home while you are taking care of your own child, it’s not recommended to allow any of these non-crib options when someone else is caring for your child while also caring for other children. Distraction is the second biggest factor when it comes to infant deaths.)

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