Finding a daycare provider for an infant child is one of the most stressful and challenging tasks that faces working parents. Every parent wants to make a good decision for the child's safety, but options may be limited by geographical location, affordability and the child's age. No parent wants to leave their child, much less leave him/her/them in an unsafe environment.
When evaluating daycare providers – whether state-licensed, in a church or run out of someone's home – parents must be on the lookout for warning signs that the daycare is understaffed, overburdened or just plain unsafe. Often overlooked are pillows, blankets, bumpers or soft-toys in and around the baby's sleep area. This is especially dangerous.
“Approximately 3,500 infants die annually in the US from sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS, ill-defined deaths, and accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed.” (See SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 updated recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleep Environment, American Academy of Pediatrics, Technical Report, 2016). In 2018, sudden unexpected infant deaths were the number one cause of death for children between 1 month to one year old. (See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data and Statistics, 2014-2018.) Pediatricians have repeatedly emphasized the need for a Safe Sleep Environment to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant-Death Syndrome. (See Sleep Environment Risks for Younger and Older Infants, PEDIATRICS, 8/2014, p. 6.).
To help combat the risk of infant deaths while sleeping, the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and others, recommend that an infant's Safe Sleep Environment has the following characteristics:
- Baby dressed in a onesie or other wearable blanket. No loose clothing or bibs.
- A crib with a flat firm mattress covered by a fitted sheet.
- No blankets.
- No bumpers.
- No pillows, nursing pillows or soft toys.
Nursing Pillows can be especially dangerous. One popular manufacturer of nursing pillows, Boppy® (they call it a “Feeding and Infant Support Pillow”) provides the following Product Care and Instructions to make sure that consumers use their products safely:
“To Prevent Serious Injury or Death
- Do not leave baby unattended.
- Adult supervision is required.
- Improper use of this product could result in injury or death.
Possible Suffocation Hazard
- Never allow baby to sleep on the Boppy® pillow.
- Do not allow baby to lie face down on a Boppy® pillow.
- Do not use in crib, cradle, bassinet, playpen, play yard.
- Not for use on a bed, either with the baby alone or with a caregiver who may fall asleep while feeding the baby.
Possible Position Asphyxia Hazard
- Keep baby's airway open at all times.
- For proper breathing when using the pillow for propping, do not allow the baby to be curled up in the center of the pillow area or be propped up to high on the pillow.”
You would think that a daycare provider would never prop-up a child in a nursing pillow in a crib, then leave her unattended. But this happens. Understaffed daycare centers will use nursing pillows to prop-up infants as old as six-months so they can provide care to other children. When a daycare provider does this, there is a substantial risk the child will slip down or roll over.
If this happens and the blockage is not removed quickly, the child will struggle to breathe and could suffer permanent brain injury or death from suffocation. These tragedies are preventable! When you choose a daycare for your infant, make sure to look for nursing pillows, blankets or soft toys near the infant napping area. Make sure to ask about staffing levels and staff turnover.
If your baby has been injured or killed by a negligent daycare provider, we can help. Please call us as soon as possible.