If your church runs or is considering running a crèche for very young children and babies, it’s vital to be aware of the specific risks pertaining to these age-groups. Parents need to know that when they leave their children in care that they are being looked after safely and appropriately.
Most common causes of injury among these age-groups include:
- Suffocation (infants).
- Swallowing of small items such as button batteries and magnets.
- Falls from change-tables or high-chairs.
- Scalds from hot liquids (including carers’ hot drinks).
- Poisoning from swallowing chemicals or from medications.
- Choking on unsuitable food items.
- Pulling objects onto themselves.
- Cuts and lacerations from running into doors or windows that do not have safety-glass or guards in place.
Babies of course have very specific safety requirements, such as:
- Cots must comply with Australian Standard AS 2172. The cot mattress should be firm, clean and well-fitted to the cot
- Place babies to sleep on their backs, with head and face uncovered and feet near the bottom of the cot.
- Use sheets and blankets only – no soft items such as doonas or pillows. Blankets should be well-tucked in.
- Avoid having toys in the cot.
See SIDS and KIDS for more information on baby sleep-safety.
- Do not use jolly-jumpers, baby-walkers or indoor swings.
- If babies are placed in a bouncer do not place it up high.
- Avoid small objects or toys with small parts that could be swallowed.
- Keep one hand on baby when changing nappies on a changing table.
- Take care when heating bottles – always test the temperature first especially if using a microwave.
- High-chairs must comply with AS 2172 and prams with AS 2088.
Older babies and toddlers
Once babies are crawling and toddlers are off-and-running and full of curiosity there are new risks to consider. Safety considerations include:
- Providing age-appropriate toys. Toys should comply with ISO 8142, and should not contain sharp edges, hooks, parts that could crush or cause entrapment or that could be swallowed, or any toxic materials.
- Placing guards around heating equipment to prevent burns.
- Securing furniture that could topple – e.g. shelves, drawers, televisions.
- Ensuring furniture does not have gaps small enough to cause finger entrapment, or large enough for head entrapment.
- Making sure floors have a slip-resistant surface, and rugs and mats are secured.
- Placing locks on cupboard doors and drawers.
- Securing or removing access to items that could be pulled down by a toddler.
- Removing access to plastic bags.
- Using safety-gates where appropriate such as at kitchen entrances.
There are many more regulations to follow and / or considerations to make when running a crèche – for example licencing requirements, insurance, staff:child ratio, staff qualifications, and First Aid. Contact the State or local Government in your region for more information.
Free ChildSafe Membership
Churches of Christ Insurance also provides free membership to ChildSafe for all our insured churches and agencies. ChildSafe provides resources for team leaders, team members and coordinators involved in church-operated child and youth services to assist in creating a child safe church environment.
See our separate article on ChildSafe for more details.
Additional child safety information
The following articles on child safety are also available from this site:
- Playground safety;
- Risk-management for youth camps;
- Child sex abuse;
- Food allergies in children;
- Safety tips for jumping castles.