Missouri lawmakers are trying to protect infants in daycare centers by mandating that licensed daycare providers use safe sleep practices in accordance with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton of Webster Groves was inspired to sponsor Missouri House Bill 707 after 7-month-old Owen Haber died while napping at a daycare center. Owen’s daycare providers were not using infant safe sleep practices, and his death may have been prevented if he had simply been sleeping on his back and with no blanket.
Rep. Kirkton said that Owen’s death should be a wake-up call for the state to revise its safe sleep standards. “The whole thing is devastating all around,” Kirkton said. “My goal is not to be punitive, just to make sure this never happens again.”
Missouri’s laws are outdated, permitting the use of bumpers, blankets, and sleep positioners in cribs while at daycare. Daycare providers are not required to have any training regarding safe infant sleep practices. House Bill 707 (HB707) will update the law to reflect the basic precautions that medical research has found can prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and death by suffocation.
Please join me in supporting HB707 by contacting your state representative and sharing this article through social media. Also, talk to your daycare provider. Ask them how they are currently training their staff regarding infant sleep safety. Look in the infant room– are there blankets in the cribs or babies sleeping on their bellies? Do they use sleep positioners? Are they using a white noise machine?
HB707 includes the following updated recommendations (quoted directly):
- All licensed child care facilities that provide care for children less than one year of age shall implement and maintain a written safe sleep policy in accordance with the most recent safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The purpose of the safe sleep policy is to maintain a safe sleep environment that prevents the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome and sudden unexpected infant deaths in children less than one year of age.
- When an infant requires alternative sleep positions or special sleeping arrangements, the child care facility shall be provided with written instructions, signed by the infant’s licensed healthcare provider, detailing the alternative sleep positions or special sleeping arrangements for such infant. The child care facility shall put the infant to sleep in accordance with such written instructions.
- All employees of licensed child care facilities who care for infants less than one year of age shall successfully complete department-approved training on the most recent safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics every three years.
- The department shall communicate rules to implement the provisions of this section. Such rules shall include, but not be limited to: Amending any current rules which are not in compliance with the most recent safe sleep recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, including but not limited to 19 CSR 30.62-092(1)C which permits the use of bumper pads in cribs or playpens; (2) Keeping soft or loose bedding away from sleeping infants and out of safe sleep environments, including but not limited to bumper pads, pillows, quilts, comforters, sleep positioning devices, sheepskins, blankets, flat sheets, cloth diapers, bibs, and other similar items; (3) Prohibiting blankets or other soft or loose bedding from being hung on the sides of cribs.
Margie Ellisor of Fox2 St. Louis invited me to talk with her about House Bill 707. You will be touched by Owen’s smiling face and the effort to make some good come from his tragic death: