Objective. To determine 1) familiarity of child care centers with American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations regarding infant sleep position, 2) predominant infant sleep positions in child care settings, and 3) child care policies pertaining to sleep position for infants less than 6 months of age.

Design. A descriptive, cross-sectional telephone survey including the age and number of infants cared for, infant sleep positions currently in use, and details regarding reasons for sleep position policies.

Participants. All licensed child care centers caring for infants less than 6 months of age in Washington, DC, and Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland.

Results. Out of 137 centers in these areas that accept infants less than 6 months of age, 131 completed the survey. Only 57% (75) of the centers were aware of recommendations regarding infant sleep position. Infants were placed prone in 49% (64) of the centers and 20% (26) of the centers positioned infants exclusively in the prone position. Of the centers, 75% (98) did not have a written policy regarding sleep position. Most common reasons for placing infants in the prone position included child comfort, fear of choking, and guidance by the parents of the infants. Centers that used the prone position exclusively cared for significantly fewer infants on average than centers that never or only sometimes placed infants prone.

Conclusions. Almost half (43%) of licensed child care centers surveyed in the greater Washington, DC area were unaware of the association between sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant sleep position. Child care centers aware of prone positioning as a SIDS risk were less likely to place infants to sleep in this position, with many such centers avoiding prone positioning entirely. However, it was common for centers aware of the SIDS risk to still place infants prone if directed to do so by parents or if concerned about child comfort. Further educational efforts directed toward child care providers are needed.

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