2018 marks Peace of Mind’s 25th year of being a top early education center in Woodbury. With so many years of experience under our belt, we’d like to offer a few tips on preparing your infant for the transition from home to licensed child care, concentrating on safe sleep practices.
As a licensed center in Minnesota, we must follow the requirements set forth by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. While licensing covers every aspect of child care, we’ll focus on the safe sleep standards. “Minnesota law requires licensed child care providers to comply with infant-specific, safe sleep standards and training requirements. These standards and training requirements are considered critical because unsafe sleep environments have been associated with unexpected infant deaths in Minnesota, including in licensed child care.
- Infants must be placed on their backs to sleep, unless there is a physician’s directive for anything other than a back sleeping position.
- If an infant falls asleep before being placed in a crib, the provider must move the infant to a crib as soon as practicable. Providers must keep the infant within sight until the infant is placed in a crib.
- Providers must obtain signed parent statement for infant under 6 months old who independently rolls over to remain on stomach.
- When an infant is placed in a crib to sleep, a center staff person must be within sight or hearing of the infant.
- Providers must perform monthly safety inspections of every crib and ensure cribs are approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Nothing is allowed in the crib with the infant except a pacifier.
- Crib sheets must be tight fitting.
- Staff persons, caregivers, and volunteers that care for infants must annually complete training on reducing the risk of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID).
Unsafe sleep environments can lead to great harm for infants. Parents and providers working in partnership can greatly reduce the risk of harm to children in licensed care settings.
Getting an infant to nap for a meaningful amount of time in a crib at school can be extremely difficult if the sleep routine at home is significantly different from licensing guidelines. At Peace of Mind, we cannot swaddle infants, use weighted pacifiers, or have blankets or pillows in the crib. We can, and do, use rocking chairs, comfort items (though not in the crib), pacifiers, sleep sacks, and soothing music. Establishing a nap and bedtime routine at home that can be recreated in a group care setting is best for you and your child. Using items or techniques that are unavailable to us as your child’s care giver may lead to a dysregulated sleep pattern and an exhausted infant, and may also be dangerous. Please note that we cannot have infants sleeping anywhere but in a crib. If your child falls asleep in his or her carrier in your car or in a swing or chair at school, teachers are required to move that child to his or her crib. Following that practice at home is not only beneficial for supporting consistent sleep habits, but is key for safe sleep as well. When an infant is sleeping in a position other than on his or her back, “the baby is likely to slouch forward, which can be extremely dangerous when they are very young and have weak neck muscles. This slouched-forward position can cause positional asphyxiation; essentially the infant’s airway is cut off and they cannot breathe. This issue is not unique to car seats; positional asphyxiation can happen in a swing, bouncy seat or a baby carrier. If the infant is not repositioned quickly, this lack of oxygen can cause brain damage and eventual death.” (Car Seat and Positional Asphyxiation)
In a group care setting, it is also impossible for us to have a silent and pitch black nap area. Infants must be within sight and sound of staff, which means our open area nap rooms are exposed to a fair amount of light, and some of the excitement of our classroom. We do our best to provide a peaceful nap room by using soft music and/or a white noise machine, and suggest you do the same at home.
We know that bringing your infant to child care can cause anxiety and worry for parents. We hope that learning about what we can and cannot do for your child in regards to napping eases some of that worry, and explains why the transition can be so tough! With parents and care givers working together and using the best practices for safe sleep standards, we believe we can achieve our ultimate goal – Peace of Mind!