Is Swaddling Safe?

From time to time, we see infant providers who swaddle babies as a way to calm them and to help them sleep. In the most recent notes for clarification in the ITERS-R and FCCERS-R (9-2013), if we find children are being swaddled in center-based or family child care homes, it is considered inadequate care for nap practices. The guidelines come from the 2011 edition of Caring for Our Children (3rd edition). They state the swaddling is not necessary or recommended in child care settings. Some states (Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Texas) are even starting to address this issue in their licensing standards by banning the practice in child care settings.

swaddle photoAlthough the American Academy has not taken an official stance on this issue, we know that in the first days and weeks of life, swaddling can help sooth newborns and it mimics the close comfort of the womb. But Dr. Rachel Moon, chair of the task force that authored the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations, recommends that swaddling should be stopped by the time a child reaches 2 months of age and before a baby intentionally starts to roll. This is about the same time that parents who need care outside the home will enroll their children in family or center-based care.

What are some of the concerns associated with swaddling?

  • In center-based care, there can be multiple providers and some may not know the correct swaddling technique.
  • Tight swaddling can lead to hip dysplasia in babies because there is not enough room for the baby to bend her legs up and out from her body.
  • Dr. Moon states that swaddling may decrease a baby’s arousal making it harder for her to wake up which can be a risk factor for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Older infants who are swaddled may roll over and not be able to roll back which can cause suffocation.
  • Swaddling can also lead to overheating, which is another risk factor for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

For more information:

Swaddling: Is it Safe?

Caring for Our Children, standard 3.1.4.2

FCCERS-R Additional Notes

ITERS-R Additional Notes

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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Quality Block Center (ECERS-R)

We all know the wonderful benefits of block play to a child’s total development: physical, social, emotional, and cognitive. But it is important to also remember that the number of blocks available, the space provided for block play, and the teacher support and interaction with children during block play will all affect the quality of the children’s experience.

At the good level of quality, The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R) requires enough space, blocks and accessories for three children to be able to build sizable structures at the same time. We often see programs who lose credit because they fail to meet all the requirements for this indicator.

girls building block tower2_diversityHow much space is enough?

  • There must be enough room for three children to build sizable structures, such as long roads or large buildings, without having to compete for space.
  • Blocks centers tend to be a place where we find other materials particularly small building materials, such as Legos, Lincoln Logs and even train sets, all of which are considered fine motor materials. It is important to remember if those activities take up enough space so that it interferes with block play, programs can lose credit.

How many blocks are enough?

  • Determining the amount of blocks a program needs is a little more complicated. First, the ages of the children in the classroom must be considered. Younger preschoolers may require fewer blocks because their block structures tend to be less complex. While older children who are capable of building more complex structures will use more blocks. I can remember observing in a 4-year-old preschool, and one child used over 98 blocks to build her castle.
  • The size of the blocks is another factor. If many of your blocks are smaller in size you will need more. Likewise, less will be required if you have larger blocks, such as hollow blocks.
  • Finally, the interactions of the children will also determine if there are “enough blocks”.   If children often have to compete for “favorite” types of blocks because they are just a few, this would not be considered “enough” even if it appears there are plenty other blocks.

What kind of accessories are needed and how many is enough?

At the good level of quality (level 5), there must be two accessories that support block play. For example, a set of farm animals for children to build a barn or fence around them, or people so children can build houses for them. Other acceptable accessories include vehicles and other accessories used to enhance block play such as traffic signs and small buildings.

When all these requirements are met the open-ended possibilities that blocks provide are limited only to a child’s imagination!

For more information:

Harms, T., Clifford, R. & Cryer, D. (2005) Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, New York: Teacher’s College Press

Harms, T., Clifford, R. & Cryer, D. (2003) All About The ECERS-R, New York: Teacher’s College Press

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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Sanitizing and Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?

The terms sanitizing and disinfecting often cause confusion for providers who are trying to implement correct hygienic practices. The Environment Rating Scales follow the guidelines in the 2011 edition of Caring for Our Children (CFOC) 3rd edition. They indicate that the terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences in the solution strength and appropriate use. Here’s the difference:

Red_Spray_bottle_bing image_share and use“A sanitizer is a product that reduces but does not eliminate germs on inanimate surfaces to levels considered safe by public health codes.”

“A disinfectant is a product that destroys or inactivates germs on inanimate surfaces.”

When to Sanitize or Disinfect? (Per Caring for Our Children, 3rd edition)

Sanitizing is appropriate for food contact surfaces (dishes, utensils, high chair trays, tables used for eating, for example). Toys that are mouthed and pacifiers should also be sanitized.

A disinfect is more appropriate for hard, non-porous surfaces such as diaper changing tables, toilets and other bathroom surfaces.

What can be used for Sanitizing or Disinfecting?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that only products with an EPA registration number can make public health claims that they are effective in reducing or inactivating germs. Check the label of all products to see if they are EPA registered. If so, you will find an EPA registration number on the label. Follow the directions on the container for use as a sanitizer or disinfectant. For more detailed information about the product, the EPA website has product safety sheets on EPA registered products.

For more information check out these three links in Caring For Our Children:

Standard 3.3 Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting

Appendix J Selecting an Appropriate Sanitizer or Disinfectant

Appendix K Routine Schedule for Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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Is Foam Soap allowed?

Yes! Is the quick and simple answer. Children like foam soap because it’s fun and easily creates bubbles. Teachers like foam soap because it will lather without applying water to hands first, which they see as a way to cut down on the time children spend standing in line waiting to wash hands. Numerous times I have observed 10 children lining up behind the sink while the teacher goes down the line putting a squirt of soap in each child’s hands. As  children wait in line, they rub their hands together with the foam soap. Then one by one they walk up to the sink with running water and rinse their hands off. Sounds like a great solution to give children something to do while they wait to wash their hands, right? Well, not exactly. Since water has not been applied to the children’s hands before the foam soap, the soap tends to dissipate from the oils and dirt on the hands and no longer does its job. Foam soap is similar to liquid soap and the same handwashing procedure must be followed to receive credit for adequate handwashing.

foam-soap-hand

  1. Wet hands.
  2. Apply soap (not antibacterial).
  3. Create a lather by rubbing hands together for 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands under warm running water.
  5. Dry hands.
  6. Turn the faucet off with a paper towel.

For more information on the handwashing procedure, see Caring for Our Children’s standard 3.2.2 and the Human Sciences Extension Child Care Hand Washing video.

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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Is Screen Time Allowed?

Following the report on screen time from the American Academy of Pediatrics, we often receive the question on whether or not programs can use TV, videos, computers in the early childhood classrooms.

The short answer YES… but with some limitations and meaningful intentions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting total media time to no more than 2 hours in a 24 hours period (home and early education programs). Since providers and teachers have no control over how long children spend in front of screens while at home, the AAP further recommends limiting screen time in ECE settings.

Please see the Updated Notes for Clarification for ECERS-R, FCCERS-R, and ITERS-R for detailed information about screen time and each scale, and Caring For Our Children standard 2.2.0.3.

Basic ideas to keep in mind:

  • No child under the age of two should have any screen time
  • Weekly screen time should be no more than 30 minutes total (this includes all screen time: TV, movies, and computer)
  • Computer time should be limited to 15 minutes per day (this time counts toward the 30 minute weekly allotment of screen time)

shutterstock_165821084It is important to remember use of an IPads, Kindle, tablet, electronic reader, smartboard, handheld game, and even a cell phone all count as screen time. Some Leap Pad materials or other electronic toys also act as computer screens. Many programs have received grants for the purchase and use of IPad. Some programs use the IPad sparingly to enhance learning topics or to extend children’s ideas. For example, during a study on shadows, a preschool class watched a 3 minute, age appropriate video on lightness, darkness, and what creates a shadow during large group time. No other screen time was allowed that day.

If children ask a question, such as “What’s a tornado look like?” and providers respond by talking about tornados, looking in a book for information, or showing a short, age appropriate YouTube clip of a tornado, the screen time meets the requirements of teacher involvement and being educational. Some programs allow a brief check of the Decorah Eagle Cam throughout the week, allowing the children to see the nest, eggs, growth, feedings, etc. These types of media usage can be educational and extend children’s learning, but if children are allowed further screen time during the day/week, they can quickly exceed the maximum amount of screen time in a day or week.

Some programs use a computer for music and movement activities. When used appropriately and at limited times, these computer activities/programs can be appropriate. Some providers use computer programs like Pandora to play music. These programs can offer a broad range of music, including music from various cultures. Music time does count for screen time when accompanied by a video, such as through youtube or an exercise/ dance video.

Check out this Screen-Time Reduction Toolkit for Child Care Providers from Let’s Move! Child Care.

What are some ways you have seen programs use videos or computers to enhance children’s learning?

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Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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Books: What counts in the “animal” category?

By providing books with various topics to children, you create opportunities for different types of learning experiences. Some books spark children’s imagination, some add information to what children already know, and others excite children with new interests. Providing a variety of books will expose children to different characters and can foster an understanding of other cultures. A wide range of books can help expand a child’s vocabulary and foster social and emotional development. Think about wording and feelings  a child experiences in Llama Llama Red Pajama compared to reading Where the Wild Things Are or Bugs A-Z.

Sea-Turtles-Glaser book_25Aug15_bing share and useThe Environment Ratings Scales have an indicator in the books and pictures item asking if there is a “wide selection” or a “variety” of books accessible. To help determine whether this indicator is met, we look through the accessible books and tally the number of books that fit into the specified categories (fantasy, factual, nature/ science, animals, race/ culture, abilities, etc.). Each category given in the scale must be represented to meet “wide selection.” See additional notes for each scale (ECERS-R, FCCERS-R, or ITERS-R) for more details.

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which category the book actually fits in and sometimes books fall into multiple categories. One of the most common questions we receive is what type of books actually fall into the animal category. Do they have to be realistic photos of animals or is it any books about animals. The book category about animals should include realistic drawings or photos of animals. Sometimes these books will also count in the nature/ science and factual categories as well. Make believe books, such as those with cartoon animals or animals acting out human-like behaviors (e.g. cooking, riding bicycles) are fantasy.

We often see more fantasy books with animals than realistic or factual. Remember books can be located in a number of areas throughout the child care space, so the nature books in the science center may also have some books about animals.

Share some of your favorite books about animals and tell us how you would categorize the books below!

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Wildlife animal Illustrations for childrens books

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The-A-to-Z-Book-of-Wild-Animals_25Aug15_bing share and use

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner

Melissa Wagner is an Early Childhood Coordinator with Iowa State University Extension & Outreach. Melissa has over 10 years of experience with the Environment Rating Scales as an assessor for research projects and Iowa's Quality Rating System and now as the ERS Training project coordinator. Melissa loves hearing success stories about providers who have made great strides to improve the quality of care within their program. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and house projects.

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