Lawmakers hope to ensure children sleep safely in day care centers

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COLUMBIA - Sen. Scott Sifton (D-St. Louis County) and Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves) are sponsoring a bill requiring all licensed infant daycare facilities to implement sleep regulations for infants, in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines.

SB 427 describes what the AAP considers proper sleeping regulations, which includes, but is not limited to, the removal of bumper pads, blankets and pillows, wedges or positioners, quilts, bibs and cloth diapers from the infants crib. The measure would implement sleeping strategy that requires infants to be placed on their backs during sleep and be laid on a firm surface.

Parents requesting sleeping arrangements that deviate from the guidelines would have to submit documentation from the child's health care provider. The paperwork would outline the specific sleep modifications to be made for that infant.

The bill developed after a child died at a daycare within Sifton's district.

Sifton is an advocate for awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). His own daughter stopped breathing within the first two days of life. Wednesday marked his daughter's third birthday.

"I've had too many friends and constituents that lost children to SIDS. We need to do more to reduce the risk of SIDs," Sifton said.

The owner of Tiger Tots Child Development Center Paul Prevo, said people would think a lot of things are common sense, but it's always important to have licensing regulations in place for the safety of children. However, Prevo said he believes some conditions of the bill might overstep parental jurisdiction.

"In my opinion it is a little overstepping. I saw that in the list of things included were bibs and cloth diapers, and there are a lot of things that are parent choices that we really need to be able to respect as a center. However, of course, safe sleeping practices is our number one priority," Prevo said.

For now, Sifton and Kirkton wait for their bill to be heard on the floor. Sifton said the time has come for the state of Missouri to do more to protect infants.