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What Rules and Procedures Should Be Followed for Sleep and Nap Time at Day Care Centers? Reduction of Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

By  Keith Kerfeld, Attorney and David Wolf, Attorney

Day Care Center Sleep and Nap TimeParents rely on the day care centers and child care centers for the supervision of their children.  There are some obvious risks that need to be accounted for in and around the day care center.  For instance, if the day care center is in a busy commercial area, children should be closely monitored to prevent a child from wandering out the door or wandering out of the fenced area and into traffic.  Wandering into traffic is an obvious danger.   A not so obvious danger involves sleep or nap time. One would think that the safest place for a child at day care center would be the crib or the sleeping area.  One would think that a child could not possibly be harmed while engaged in the relaxing slumber of a good sleep or a good nap.  However, this is the very time and place in which many children are harmed especially toddlers and newborns when the sleep area is unsafe for the age or size of the child AND / OR when the sleep or nap time supervision is lacking or dangerously non-existent.   Most states in the day care and child care regulations set forth rules, guidelines, and regulations for sleep time / nap time related responsibilities of the day care center. One such state is Minnesota.
In Minnesota, child care centers / day care centers are governed by Chapter 245A – Human Services Licensing, Minnesota Statutes.    Pursuant to Section 245A.1435 Reduction of Risk of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death in Licensed Programs, a child care center / day care center which is licensed is required to:
*Place the infant on the infant’s back, unless the license holder has documentation from the infant’s physician directing an alternative sleeping position;
 
*Must place the infant in a crib directly on a firm mattress with a fitted sheet that is appropriate to mattress size, that fits tightly to the mattress, and overlaps the underside of the mattress so it cannot be dislodged by pulling on the corner of the sheet with reasonable effort;
 
*Must move the infant to a crib as soon as practicable if the infant falls asleep before being placed in the crib; and
 
*Refrain from placing a swaddled infant down to sleep because it is not recommended AND furthermore it is prohibited for any infant who has begun to roll over independently.
These are excellent recommendations.  Unfortunately, many day care centers around Minnesota and the rest of the nation do not properly train staff members AND / OR have inappropriate sleep and nap accommodations in the facility that are age appropriate for infants and toddlers.  A stuffed animal can seem like a comforting toy to place in a crib with a child; however, this same fluffy toy can lead to serious personal injuries and even the death of a child if the child rolls over on top of the stuffed animal and then is essentially suffocated while in this position.  
The clipart image used for this article shows a cute teddy bear, pillow, and blanket.   While this is pleasant looking graphic, it is also one that contains three very danagerous items to infants in day care centers:  1. Stuffed Animal;  2. Pillow; and 3. Blanket.   All of these “cute” items can be deadly when placed in a crib with an infant.   It should also be noted that supervision is key to the safety of children even during nap time and sleep time for infants and children placed in an apppropriate sleep or nap environment.
If a child suffers a personal injury due to the negligence of a day care center or child care center, the parents should contact a Minnesota Child Injury Lawyer for advice, guidance, and legal representation. The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.