Being with Infants: Episode 15 SLEEP caused quite a bit of a stir for some that watched.
“Why do you have a blanket in the crib?”
Some might think that an odd question- why wouldn’t you have a blanket in the crib? Yet, others, question its safety.
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, creating a safe sleep environment includes:
- Place the baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
- Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and soft toys. The crib should be bare.
- Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
- Avoid baby’s exposure to smoke, alcohol and illicit drugs.
Whether or not your baby may permitted to have a blanket in the crib at the Center has become a matter of public policy. Some states have dis-allowed licensed facilities the use of blankets in bed after this research conduced by the AAP. Others, like the state of South Carolina where the Being with Infants video curriculum guide was filmed, do allow for blankets in cribs .
At the Center, we pay particular interest in this part of our body care routines. Letting go and allowing oneself to release into the most vulnerable position within an institution of what are first strangers is the most challenging part of our day. No one script exists for each child, as family culture plays the most critical role.
Was the baby rocked to sleep?
Does she listen to music or does white noise play in the background?
Does he doze off while nursing?
Is the room very dark? Very quiet?
Does the baby sleep alone or with a parent?
Not all of these routines and rituals can be duplicated at the Center. Complicating matters, in the interest of safety, we are required to follow the policies and procedures of our state licensing agencies regardless of family culture. In doing so, the question that often comes up is, “Can we…?”
Rather, the question might be, “Should we…?
Such is the case with allowing for blankets in the crib. We decided to revisit some of our earlier video of an older infant letting go to sleep to evaluate the child’s well-being and safety.
Two things became obvious to us in re-watching this video. One, the blanket had become untucked and had enveloped the child as she transitioned to rest. It did not cover her head and she was not alone, but what if the caregiver had been distracted. What if the blanket had gone over her head and the child went into distress.
Yet, the child incorporated the blanket in her self-regulation routines to peacefully let go to sleep. As far as well-being is concerned, this Little One seemingly needs the blanket as a transitional item. According to Healthy Children.org:
“These special comforts are called transitional objects, because they help children make the emotional transition from dependence to independence. They work, in part, because they feel good: They’re soft, cuddly, and nice to touch. They’re also effective because of their familiarity. This so-called lovey has your child’s scent on it, and it reminds him of the comfort and security of his own room. It makes him feel that everything is going to be okay.”
That’s exactly what we need in centers and institutions! So, where’s the compromise?
We asked our friends at Pikler® and RIE® to weigh in on the topic. Combining their input, we’ve come up with the following soon-to-be implemented policy at the Center.
Facilitating Sleep at the Center
- Infants in cribs will be provided sleep sack as a cover and perimeter while resting in lieu of a blanket.
- Infants in cribs will be provided a transitional cloth which they can have access to throughout the day. Upon sleeping, this cloth shall be removed by the provider and stored within eyesight of the child.
- Infants transitioning to rest mats (at least one year of age or older) may be allowed an additional blanket/lovey for rest
- Parents will be included in Safe Sleep Discussions during regularly scheduled Center Community Meetings
How do you facilitate safe and peaceful sleep routines at your center? What would you add to the above? What might you change?