When a baby was found unresponsive at his day care and ultimately passed away, his death was ultimately ruled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, he was put down for a nap with a weighted blanket, which was not approved for use in children under 3.
If your baby goes to day care, it’s a good idea to see if they have weighted blankets in the facility, and if so, what their policies are for their use. If I utilized day care, I don’t think I would have known to ask about weighted blankets when I toured the facility before signing my baby up. If Webster Child Care Center, which is a well-regarded, nationally-accredited day care center, was using them, then you know that others probably are too. Find out, just to be on the safe side.
Owen Haber was only 7 months old when he was rushed to a St. Louis area hospital after a day care worker found him on his tummy, not breathing, during nap time. The medical examiner ruled his cause of death as SIDS, yet there is an investigation into the day care center’s inappropriate use of weighted blankets on the children they watch.
Weighted blankets are often used by children who have sensory or behavioral issues because the weight of the blanket has a calming effect on them. The blanket that was used on baby Owen that day weighed over four pounds (around 20 percent of his body weight) and was labeled for children 3 and up — in other words, it should never have been used on an infant. Despite the fact that it was around Owen’s waist (instead of over his whole body), experts speculate that it could have made it difficult for him to move after he flipped over onto his tummy.
The Webster Child Care Center had several blankets available in the facility for children who had a recommendation from a therapist coupled with a parent’s consent. A day care worker reported that it wasn’t the first time they’d used such a blanket on the baby boy as he was a restless sleeper, but his parents had never consented to its use.
The day care center has been cited for several different violations, which include supervision issues and improper use of weighted blankets, and they were ordered to remove them all from the facility. As the cause of death was determined to be SIDS, it’s unlikely that charges will be brought against the day care center.