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Sleep and rest physical environment considerations

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​Approved providers, nominated supervisors and family day care educators need to take every reasonable precaution to protect children from harm and hazards within sleep and rest environments at centre-based and family day care services.

This means ensuring that the design of the physical environment supports children’s safety and wellbeing. It also means ensuring that all furniture, materials and equipment utilised by children during rest time is developmentally appropriate and suitable.

Planning, design and maintenance

In planning, designing and maintaining safe sleep and rest environments, approved providers of centre-based and family day care services must consider a number of factors.

Sleep and rest areas or rooms

  • Consider children’s need for calm, comfortable and secure surroundings as they rest.
  • Provide ways of supervising children under 15 months as they sleep, e.g. are children able to be observed through a window?
  • Ensure the temperature, lighting and ambience of the sleep room or area encourage sleep and rest.

Cots, beds and bedding equipment

  • Ensure cots, beds and bedding equipment meet mandatory Australian safety standards and are labelled accordingly.
  • Adhere to all product safety advice relating to cots, beds and bedding equipment.
  • Ensure cots, beds and bedding equipment are appropriate for the age and developmental stage of the children who will use them.
  • Ensure cots and beds are assembled according to manufacturers’ instructions and that instructions are kept in a place known to the nominated supervisor and educators.
  • Use mattresses that are the right size for the cot or bed and ensure they are firm, flat, clean and in good condition.
  • Ensure cots do not contain toys, books, cot bumpers, doonas, pillows and other items that could be hazardous to sleeping babies and young children.
  • Ensure all cots, beds and bedding equipment are clean, maintained and regularly checked for damage to safety latches and moving parts.
  • Provide safe bedding for children according to their age and developmental stage.
  • Avoid the use of bassinettes, as there are no Australian safety standards for bassinettes.
  • Ensure babies are not left to sleep on mats or floor mattresses. The safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot that meets the mandatory Australian Standard.
  • Ensure portable cots are not used as a substitute for a permanent cot.

Location of cots and beds

  • Ensure there are enough cots and beds available for all children who require sleep or rest throughout the day.
  • Ensure cots and beds are not positioned under or near windows, curtains, blind cords, or electrical appliances.
  • Allow enough space between the cots or beds to ensure children using them cannot physically disturb one another while resting.
  • Allow enough space between cots or beds for educators to move freely between children – educators must be able to tend to a resting child without touching another cot, bed or child.
  • Ensure any area that is permanently set aside for the use or storage of cots or beds is excluded from calculations of unencumbered indoor space.

Supervision

  • Position cots or beds in areas that allow supervision of sleeping or resting children at all times.
  • Ensure supervision windows in sleep rooms are not obstructed by posters, paintings or curtains.
  • Position convex mirrors in sleep rooms or areas to allow educators to supervise from adjoining rooms, if necessary.
  • Ensure sleeping children are checked at regular intervals.

Policies and procedures

  • Ensure the physical environment for sleep and rest is maintained throughout the day by the service’s nominated supervisor and educators.
  • Ensure that educator practices support children’s need for sleep and rest.

Related information

Learn more about an approved provider’s responsibility to create safe sleep and rest environments from the following:

Read more information on responsive sleep, rest and relaxation practices.

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Last updated 04 July 2019