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Sleep Spaces In A Daycare

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Infants and toddlers need more sleep than older children and require a specially sheltered environment so they will not be disturbed by those who are awake or other center activities.  Each child requires his own secure sleep space (mat, cot, or bed; crib for each infant under 12 months), individually marked blankets and sheets, (no pillows for infants).  This space should be visible and accessible to staff, to diapering, and to a cuddling or rocking area.  Spaces which contain rows of cribs are impersonal and discourage the formation of warm, relaxed relationships between caregivers and children.  Small groups of 3-4 cribs per room are preferable.

Provide each child with a separate sleep space.  For all day programs this should be a full sized crib with firm mattress.  Slats should be no more than 4 inches apart on center, and rails should extend 20 inches or more above the mattress in its lowest position.

The amount of space usurped by cribs may place great constraints on the available square footage of a room.  Where space is limited, port-a-cribs for infants may have to substitute.  Another space saver, which can accommodate a full-sized mattress, are knapsacks or bunk bed arrangements which allow one child to sleep above another.  For ease of lifting children in and out, the second level should never exceed 36” high; larger and heavier babies and toddlers should be placed on the bottom.  Stacks can be custom designed with varying ceiling heights, numbers of cutouts in the sides, and to accommodate different size mattresses.

Castors on cribs will enable children to be evacuated quickly in case of an emergency.  Cribs must be able to fit through doorways.  A large carriage, which holds several children can also be kept in the sleep area for evacuation purposes.

Create a separate sleep area for 3-4 sleep spaces, which is acoustically isolated from the activities of non-sleeping children.  For safety, this area must have visual connections (walls of glass) and quick accessibility to caregivers at all times.  Design it to feel like the bedroom of a house.

Provide some natural lighting which can be controlled, and artificial lighting on a thermostat so caregivers can perform their functions without disturbing children sleeping.

Locate the sleep spaces near a diapering area and, ideally, next to a small nook or semi-enclosed space which is large enough for a caregiver to cuddle, rock, encourage a child to sleep.

Unless placed against a wall, allow 2 feet minimum space between cribs.  The scale of the space should be adequate for sleep furniture and caregiver circulation.  Alternate placement head to foot so that babies do not breathe directly in each other’s faces.

Provide adequate ventilation so each space received fresh air.  Open windows daily to air out room when babies are not present.

Provide mobiles, all decorations, etc. above the cribs and in the room to gently stimulate and reassure children as they awaken or drift off to sleep.  Crib toys that stretch across the crib should not be used; mobiles should meet all safety guidelines.

Provide some cots in each sleep room so older toddlers and infants who begin walking can be located closer to the floor.

Ask Dr. Susan