Providing Care for Newborns: What Providers Should Know
While caring for toddlers and older children is not without its challenges, providing care for newborns introduces an entirely separate set of requirements and needs. Childcare providers should know how to properly meet the needs of newborns to promote healthy development while discouraging the spread of illness, reducing risk and keeping newborns safe.
What Childcare Providers Should Know About Breastfeeding
The World Health Organization recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, with no formula or other sources of nutrition introduced unless absolutely necessary. While modern parents may have a variety of valid reasons for choosing not to breastfeed their newborns, it’s important for childcare providers to understand best practices for supporting breastfeeding whenever possible.
While it is important for caregivers to make every effort to support breastfeeding parents, it is also important that caregivers understand and comply with state and local laws and regulations regarding the proper storage of breast milk. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not consider breast milk a bodily fluid requiring special handling precautions. However, health department codes and state and local laws may state differently. These laws vary greatly from one location to another, so it is crucial for childcare providers to know the requirements for their area.
New parents may not be aware of laws regarding transportation and storage of breast milk for use in a group childcare setting. This provides even stronger reason for childcare providers to know their area’s requirements. Providers should present clearly stated policies that comply with their area’s regulations without placing undue burden on parents. This is especially important in states that specifically require childcare providers to support and encourage breastfeeding mothers.
Safe Sleeping Guidelines for Childcare Providers
The peak risk period for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is between one and twelve months of age. Sleep positioning for newborns and infants can be a matter of life and death. Data released by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that one in five cases of SIDS occurs when a child is being cared for by someone other than a parent, and many of these infant deaths can be attributed to sleeping on their stomachs. The risk of SIDS spikes significantly when babies who are accustomed to sleeping on their backs are positioned on their stomachs by a new caregiver. To reduce this risk, childcare providers should always place newborns on their backs for sleep.
To further reduce risk, infants should sleep on firm mattresses covered by a fitted sheet. No crib bumpers, soft bedding or stuffed animals should ever be placed in an infant’s crib during sleep.
Tummy Time is Important
While current data and childcare guidelines firmly suggest infants be placed on their backs to sleep, it’s also important for older babies to spend some of their waking hours on their stomachs in supervised play to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles. For very young newborns who spend the majority of their time sleeping, stomach positioning for play is not advised. Still, as newborns move beyond three months of age, it should be integrated into the daily schedule for the sake of healthy development.
Caring for newborns is often a rewarding experience for childcare providers, even those who have typically only cared for older children. By learning all the crucial care facts childcare providers should know about brand new babies, you can expand your childcare services, increase enrollment and build stronger relationships with families from an earlier age.