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Underlying Dangers Lurking In Daycare

If you place your child in a daycare facility, you're probably aware of the most common threats to his or her health and safety. Besides everyday perils such as germs and infection, there may be less obvious threats lurking behind the closed doors of child care. From bedbugs to nap mats, there are underlying dangers to consider. 

The Hidden Danger of Bedbugs

Bedbugs have made a resurgence in most North American states, and your child's daycare facility could be a host to these unwanted visitors. Daycare centers provide infants and toddlers with nap time, and this is the ideal situation for these insects to feed. While bedbugs are not known carriers of disease, their bites can be more than itchy and annoying. Bites may become infected when little ones scratch them.

How can you reduce the chances of your child coming in contact with bedbugs and incurring a possible trek to your home? First, be aware of the appearance of bedbug bites. Typically, a bedbug will leave a pattern of three bites, and these red raised bumps are somewhat larger and may cause more intense itching than a mosquito bite.

Examine your child's arms, legs and back when he or she returns home each day. If you notice the signs, notify the daycare facility or in-home provider at once. Use an anti-itch cream or lotion on the bite areas to relieve discomfort and inflammation. It's also a good idea to inform your child's pediatrician, especially if there are several bites.

Pay a visit to the daycare facility and check infant cribs and bedding closely. Ask how bedding is typically laundered. The use of hot water over 130 degrees will destroy bedbugs and their nits. Bedding should be encased with a sealed bedbug mattress protector.

Bedbugs love hiding in dark fabrics of any kind. For this reason, you might want to avoid sending your child to daycare with backpacks or unnecessary cloth baggage. If your child must use a cloth bag, line it with a protective anti-bedbug liner sold in mattress stores.

Chemical-Laden Nap Mats

Most moms and dads are familiar with nap mats for their toddlers. When placed on the floor, these mats provide a cushioned place for a child to nap. Many of these nap mats are made with flame-retardant chemicals.

The concept is a positive one, although there are hidden risks associated with the use of this chemical. Many parents are unaware that these fire-retardant chemicals are linked to respiratory issues and even cancer. Obviously, the first step to combating the issue is to ask your child's daycare provider about the nap mats that are used at the center.

The solution is a simple one: Don't allow your child to rest on flame-retardant mats. Most are made with polyurethane inner foam, and this is the culprit. Play it safe and purchase a nap mat for your child that is organic and therefore does not contain hazardous chemicals.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

If you have an infant under 12 months of age in daycare, you need to be certain the provider is aware of the risk of SIDS. Improper use of pillows, comforters or plush animals in the crib may put an infant at a risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Some child care experts also believe that crib bumpers may pose a threat to infant safety, due to the risk of suffocation from the fabric.

The sudden death of a sleeping infant can occur at daycare as well as in the home, but fortunately there are ways to reduce the risk. Keep in mind that most cases occur in infants 4-6 months of age. Your best defense against this potential threat is to examine the sleeping area in which your baby is kept.

Insist that your child's caretaker does not place any objects in your child's crib. Tell the provider to place your baby on his or her back during nap time. Experts believe an infant is at greater risk for SIDS when sleeping on the stomach.

A Final Word on Daycare Hazards

When keeping your child's best interests in mind, it's never a good idea to save money on child care by compromising safety. Insist on placing your child in the care of a licensed child care provider only. This ensures the best chances of a regulated environment with experienced staff that adheres to the rules set by the state. Find them at sites like