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How to talk to your childcare provider about safe sleep

September 6, 2016

How to Talk to Your Childcare Provider about Safe Sleep

When it’s time to choose a childcare provider, safe sleep should be one of the first topics brought up. You want to find a childcare provider that prioritizes your baby’s safety and health, especially when it comes to sleep. When you are making your decision on a childcare provider, prepare a list of questions to ask them in order to evaluate whether the environment they provide for infants aligns with your preferences and the safety guidelines created by the AAP. It’s better to find out their habits first than to assume they will follow your instructions if they differ, and if they already have a routine in place that may differ from your preferences. Here are some things to ask a potential childcare provider to assess whether they provide a safe sleep environment for your child:

  • You can start by asking them what sleeping arrangements they already use for infants in their care, and if they know the AAP guidelines for safe sleep.
  • Ask to see what they already have for sleeping arrangements or if you should provide your own.
  • Ask them what they would do if your baby were to fall asleep in the car seat, in a swing, or in a bouncy seat.
  • Ask about their protocol with babies who are congested or sick.
  • Ask about tummy time, and ask to see where tummy time takes place.
  • Ask if anyone who comes to the childcare location smokes, or if your baby will ever be around anyone who smokes.

Your baby has specific needs when it comes to sleeping – different needs than you and me, or even your older children. Because of their movement habits and their anatomy, it is important that you and whomever are responsible for putting your baby down to sleep pays special attention to their sleep environment.

Before you talk with those who will be interacting with your infant and putting them to sleep, review the AAP’s safe sleep guidelines for infants. You can find them here.

Here is a summary of some of the guidelines for safe sleep:

  • Always lay your baby on their back, not their tummy.
  • The surface should be firm. Make sure that the crib, bassinet, pack n play, etc. meets all safety standards and has not been recalled. Ensure that when assembled, there are no missing pieces, broken pieces, or loose pieces.
  • Give the baby a pacifier when sleeping
  • If the baby falls asleep in the car seat, swing, infant carrier, etc. he/she should be moved to a proper sleeping place
  • Keep loose bedding, like pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. out of the sleeping area, leaving baby only on a fitted sheet with nothing else.
  • Do not use bumper pads, as they do not prevent injury, but can increase the risk for suffocation, strangulation, and entrapment.
  • Items such as mattress wedges or special positioners should not be used and can be a hazard.
  • Stay away from smoke. Do not expose your baby to second-hand smoke. Make this clear to your childcare provider, and ask that they stay away from others who smoke while your baby is in their care.
  • Make sure the baby’s sleep environment is not too warm, and that there is nothing that could cover the infant’s head.
  • Allow for plenty of tummy time. This will help strengthen the neck and back muscles, allowing for better control.

Don’t make assumptions when it comes to the care of your baby. Be thorough in questioning those who will be caring for your infant and don’t feel bad about turning them down. Always let them know that you’ll be doing random check-ins when you’re in the area and, most of all, trust your instincts as a parents. You know your baby best, and it’s important that you fully trust the hands of those who are caring for your infant in your absence.

How have you gone about interviewing potential childcare providers? Any interesting experiences or other tips we should know about? Let us know in the comments!

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Avatar for Angela Silva

Angela Silva

Angela graduated with her B.S. in Exercise and Wellness and is a NASM certified personal trainer who specializes in postpartum fitness and recovery. She enjoys writing, cracking jokes, and spending time with her family, preferably while fishing. She shares many of her life adventures on Instagram as @angelagrams

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