Observed compliance with safe sleeping guidelines in licensed childcare services

Sally Staton*, Cassandra Pattinson, Simon Smith, Anna Pease, Peter Blair, Jeanine Young, Susan Irvine, Karen Thorpe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
329 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVE: To independently assess compliance with safe sleeping guidelines for infants <12 months in licensed childcare services.

DESIGN: Full-day, in-situ observations of childcare practices (including sleep and non-sleep periods) conducted in 2016-2017.

SETTING: Australian home-based and centre-based licensed childcare services. All subject to national regulation and legislation to comply with safe sleeping guidelines.

PARTICIPANTS: The sample was 18 licensed childcare settings (15 centre-based, 3 home-based) that had infants <12 months (n=49) attending at the time of observation. 31 educators completed self-report surveys.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Standard observations of childcare practices, including a 20-item infant Safe Sleeping Guideline checklist. Educator characteristics, including each individual's knowledge, beliefs and attitudes regarding safe sleeping practices.

RESULTS: 83% of childcare services were observed to be non-compliant on at least 1 of 20 target guidelines (median 2.5, max=7); 44% were observed placing infants prone/side and 67% used loose bedding, quilts, doonas/duvets, pillows, sheepskins or soft toys in cots. 71% of the childcare settings had a copy of current safe sleeping guidelines displayed either in or at entry to the infant sleep room.

CONCLUSION: Despite 25 years of public health messaging, non-compliance with safe sleeping guidelines was observed to be high in childcare services. Understanding of the reasons underlying non-compliance, particularly in contexts were legislative mandate and access to information regarding safe sleeping is high, is critical to informing ongoing public health messaging and should be the focus of future studies.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ANZCTR 12618001056280-pre-results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1193-1197
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Issue number12
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2019


  • childcare
  • infant
  • safe sleeping
  • SIDS
  • sleep


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