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Should a Day Care Center Have Policies in Place for Sleep and Nap Time? (Tragic Death Reported in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


In South Dakota and other States, there is a time during the day that a child is put at risk even though it is not so obvious to some child care providers. That time of day is sleep time or nap time. A child is put at risk for serious personal injury and even death if a child is put to sleep in a dangerous position. A child is also put at risk when there is a lack of ongoing supervision during sleep or nap time. Because of these significant risk, a day care center should have policies in place for sleep and nap time. Bedding materials should be carefully selected and all other hazards including pillows, blankets, window cords, and stuffed animals.

Many people are under the impression that a crib or an enclosed sleeping area is the safest area in a day care center for child. This is not an accurate statement. The sleeping area can be the last place where a child takes a breath in life. This is especially true when an infant is placed to sleep on his or her stomach or on a soft object like a pillow, stuffed animal, or blanket. These items can cause a child to suffocate or asphyixate during sleep time. When this is combined with a lack of supervision, a child can die at the very day care center where the child is supposed to be cared for and supervised by a trained and attentive staff. Sleep time is not the time at any day care center for a child care provider to multi-task and take care of other work related items like cleaning, cooking, or caring for other children in other parts of the facility.

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it was reported that a child was put down to sleep on his stomach while swaddled in a blanket. After an investigation, it was determined that the cause of death was due to asphyixia. As a result of this incident and findings by local authorities, the day care provider was charged criminally with the accidental or negligent death of this child. You can read more about this story at Day Care Provider Charged in Accidental Death of Child -Sioux City, South Dakota.

When a child is injured or dies as a result of the negligence or fault of a day care provider, a parent is faced with many challenges and questions. The book – 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, Water Park and Swimming Related Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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