Childcare providers often require parents to provide sleep items, like swaddles, pacifiers, and sleep sacks, for infants. Companies create products they claim will help babies sleep and therefore help parents sleep. Weighted sleep sacks are a recent example. Sleep sacks have a small amount of weight that goes on the baby’s chest. Similar to weighted blankets, infant sleep sacks claim to help babies sleep longer with their gentle, calming weight. The companies that make sleep sacks assert they’re very safe; however, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently advised against using these types of sleep sacks. So, what should childcare providers do when a parent wants their child to use a weighted sleep sack?
Weighted sleep sack issues
The AAP’s task force for preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has said that these sleep sacks aren’t safe for infants. Placing extra weight on their chest, while helping them to sleep more deeply, may cause breathing issues, especially as infants’ rib cages aren’t entirely bone but cartilage which is more easily deformed. There’s no universal standard for how much weight an infant can tolerate, and according to consumer reports sleep sacks can restrict infants’ movements and the weighted part of the sack can ride up towards the child’s neck. Of course, if parents feel comfortable using these products that’s perfectly fine. But childcare centers are held to a high standard of care and must keep the infants they care for safe.
Safe sleep in childcare centers
So, bearing this in mind, if a parent provides a weighted sleep sack to a childcare center, it shouldn’t be used. Teachers can simply tell the parent that their policies prohibit the use of any weighted infant sleep products. Childcare centers should always follow the ABCs of safe sleep: infants should sleep alone on their backs and in a crib. Swaddling and regular sleep sack use are certainly common and acceptable as long as the swaddle or sleep sack provided doesn’t add any extra weight to the infant’s body. Childcare providers must do everything they can to provide a safe sleep environment for the infants in their care.