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Health & Parenting

Is Your Day Care Safe for Sleeping Babies?

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"We support the AAP's sleeping position statement, and we actually require parents to sign a release if they don't want us to do that," says Legg. "There is a fine line between doing [back to sleep] and accommodating parents' specific wishes. We let them know the research on the implication of children sleeping on their stomachs and SIDS."

She says Bright Horizons' position on stuffed animals and soft bedding is similar: They can educate parents, but if someone insists on a certain stuffed animal, they allow it.

Both Legg and Moon say that a parent can -- and should -- play a big role in making sure their child benefits from safe sleep practices.

"Parent involvement is the key to everything in ensuring they get the kind of care they want for their children," says Legg. "I think it is perfectly allowable for parents to have conversations with their providers, whether it is a family day care provider or a center, to ask to see copies of their policies and procedures related to safety and health, to ask questions, and certainly to give directions to the caregiver on sleeping positions."

She says parents also should request that smoking not be allowed near their children. "They can certainly make those kinds of requests even if it is not a policy of the facility they are using. It could be that the facility says, 'we can't do that,' and that would be a decision point for the parent," says Legg.

"What I would say to parents is, you can't take anything for granted. You can't assume that just because your child care provider takes care of children they necessarily know about [safe sleep practices]," says Moon.

"I recommend that parents talk to child care providers about sleep positions just as they would about what they are feeding the baby, and make sure the child care provider isn't smoking. I also tell the child care provider that they need to have written policies in place, as a way of showing parents what they do, as a way of legally protecting themselves, and also as a teaching tool because some parents don't know.

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