Cot safety in early childhood centres
Sleep and rest requirements are changing following the 2019 NQF Review. While Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infants (SUDI) have reduced, there continues to be SUDI deaths in Australia each year, and a lack of awareness and knowledge about safe sleeping remains. A key risk factor of SUDI is for children less than one year, particularly those under six months.
Trends indicate an increase in the number of children under the age of one attending education and care services in Australia, which means the risk of SUDI is also increasing within the education and care sector.
Services responsibility for children's safety when using cots
It is mandatory for services in South Australia to implement sleep and rest policies and procedures (r 168 National Regulations). Approved providers and nominated supervisors must have regard to the ages, development stages and individual needs of the children when taking reasonable steps to ensure their needs for sleep and rest are met (r 81).
The Education Standards Board has observed a recent increase in notifications about children falling out of cots due to unsecured side rails.
Staff should be trained in safe sleep practices for children, including the use of cots in their service and how to effectively secure side rails according to the manufacturer's instructions. All cots should meet current Australian Standard AS/NZS 2172-2003.
The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) states that servicesi policies and procedures should be based on current research and recommended evidence-based principles and guidelines. Red Nose is considered the recognised national authority on safe sleeping practices for infants and young children.
What will change for services in mid-2023?
The Decision Regulatory Statement outlines three key changes for sleep and rest:
1. Minimum content for policies and procedures will be set out in the National Regulations
2. Services will be required to conduct a risk assessment in relation to sleep and rest.
3. Educators will undergo training in safe sleep practices they deliver on a day-to-day basis.
Resources for services and providers
Quality Area 2: Children's health and safety (Standard 2.1, Element 2.1.1).