Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health

5.3 General Furnishings and Equipment

5.3.1 General Furnishings and Equipment Requirements Restrictive Infant Equipment Requirements

Restrictive infant equipment such as swings, stationary activity centers (e.g., exersaucers), infant seats (e.g., bouncers), molded seats, etc., if used, should only be used for short periods of time (a maximum of fifteen minutes twice a day) (1). Infants should not be placed in equipment until they are developmentally ready. Infants should be supervised when using equipment. Safety straps should be used if provided by the manufacturer of the equipment. Equipment should not be placed on elevated surfaces, uneven surfaces, near the top of stairs, or within reach of safety hazards. Stationary activity centers should be used with the stabilizing legs down in a locked position. Infants should not be allowed to sleep in equipment that was not manufactured as infant rest/sleep equipment. The use of jumpers (attached to a door frame or ceiling) and infant walkers is prohibited.
Keeping an infant confined in a piece of infant equipment prevents an infant from active movement. Infants need the opportunity to play on the floor in a safe open area to develop their gross motor skills. If infants are not given the opportunity for floor time, their development can be hindered or delayed (2). The shape of an infant’s head can be affected if pressure is applied often and for long periods of time. This molding of the skull is called plagiocephaly. Due to the recommendation for back sleeping, an infant’s skull already experiences a great amount of time with pressure on the back of the head. When an infant is kept in a piece of infant equipment such as an infant seat or a swing, the pressure again is applied to the back of an infant’s head; thus, increasing the likelihood of plagiocephaly. To prevent plagiocephaly and to promote normal development, infants should spend time on their tummies when awake and supervised (3).

Infants are not well-protected in restrictive infant equipment and can be injured by animals or other children. Other children or animals can hang, climb, or jump on or into the equipment; therefore, supervision is required during use. Safety straps must be used to prevent injuries and deaths of infants; infants have fallen out of equipment or have been strangled when safety straps have not been used (10).

Equipment must always be placed on the floor and away from the top of stairs to prevent falls; infants have been injured when equipment has been pushed or pulled off an elevated surface or the top of stairs. The surface or floor under the equipment needs to be level to prevent the risk of the equipment tipping over. It is imperative for equipment to be placed out of the reach of potential safety hazards such as furniture, dangling appliance cords, curtain pulls, blind cords, hot surfaces, etc., so infants cannot reach them. The guideline of twenty minutes twice a day was designated so that use could be clearly measured and monitored (1).

Infants should not be placed in equipment, such as stationary activity centers, that require them to support their heads on their own unless they have mastered this skill. Allowing infants to sleep in infant equipment is not recommended due to the documented decrease in an infant’s oxygen saturation caused by the downward flexion of an infant’s head and neck due to an infant’s underdeveloped head and neck muscles (8,9). If an infant falls asleep in a piece of equipment, the infant should be promptly removed and placed flat on the infant’s back in a safety approved crib.

If the stabilizing legs on stationary activity centers are not down and locked in place, this puts an infant at risk of tipping over in the equipment as well as creates an unstable piece of equipment for a mobile infant to use to pull himself up.

Infant walkers are dangerous because they move children around too fast and to hazardous areas, such as stairs. The upright position also can cause children in walkers to “tip over” or can bring children close to objects that they can pull down onto themselves. In addition, walkers can run over or run into others, causing pain or injury. Many injuries, some fatal, have been associated with infant walkers (4-7). There have been several reports of spring/clamp breaking on various models of jumpers (jump-up seats) according to the CPSC (7).

Center, Early Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Caregivers’/Teachers’ Encouragement of Physical Activity
  1. National Association for Family Child Care, The Family Child Care Accreditation Project, Wheelock College. 2005. Quality standards for NAFCC accreditation, standard 4.5. 4th ed. Salt Lake City, UT: NAFCC.
  2. American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). 2008. Lack of time on tummy shown to hinder achievement of developmental milestones, say physical therapists. Press release.
  3. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Healthy Child Care America. 2008. Back to sleep, tummy to play. Elk Grove Village, IL: AAP.
  4. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention. 2008. Policy statement: Injuries associated with infant walkers. Pediatrics 122:450.
  5. DiLillo, D., A. Damashek, L. Peterson. 2001. Maternal use of baby walkers with young children: Recent trends and possible alternatives. Injury Prevention 7:223-27.
  6. Shields, B. J., G. A. Smith. 2006. Success in the prevention of infant walker-related injuries: An analysis of national data, 1990-2001. Pediatrics 117: e452-59.
  7. Chowdhury, R. T. 2009. Nursery product-related injuries and deaths among children under age five. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  8. Kinane, T. B., J. Murphy, J. L. Bass, M. J. Corwin. 2006. Comparison of respiratory physiologic features when infants are placed in car safety seats or car beds. Pediatrics 118:522-27.
  9. Kornhauser, C. L., C. V. Scirica, I. S. Gantar, D. Osredkar, D. Neubauer, T. B. Kinane. 2009. A comparison of respiratory patterns in healthy term infants placed in car safety seats and beds. Pediatrics 124: e396-e402.
  10. Warda, L., G. Griggs. 2006. Childhood Falls in Manitoba: CHIRPP Report: An assessment of injury severity and fall events by age group. Winnipeg: The Injury Prevention Centre of Children’s Hospital.