Ensuring the #health-and well-being of infants and #toddlers in #early-childhood-education (ECE) settings is a multifaceted responsibility that extends beyond basic care. One crucial aspect is supporting breastfeeding practices, recognizing the myriad of benefits it provides to both children and mothers. National standards, such as the Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards (CFOC), emphasize the significance of child care providers being trained to support breastfeeding. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the importance of child care provider training, examining national standards, best practices, and the role they play in fostering a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
National Standards and Regulations:
- Caring for Our Children (CFOC): National Health and Safety Performance Standards
- The CFOC, 3rd edition, serves as a comprehensive set of guidelines for promoting the health and #safety of children in various childcare settings. Recognizing the importance of nutrition and age-appropriate child feeding, including breastfeeding support, the CFOC outlines specific standards that directors, program administrators, caregivers, and #teachers should adhere to before working with children.
- Pre-Service Training Requirements:
- According to CFOC, directors or program administrators, as well as caregivers and teachers, should document receipt of pre-service training. This training encompasses nutrition, age-appropriate child-feeding practices, food preparation, choking prevention, #menu-planning, and, significantly, breastfeeding-supportive practices. This emphasizes the need for comprehensive education to ensure childcare providers are well-equipped to address the unique needs of infants and toddlers. ChildCareEd's FREE Resource from the CDC "Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk", offers a helpful guide in best practices when handling breast milk.
- Competency in Infant and Toddler Care:
- Child care providers, when asked, should demonstrate competency in tasks associated with caring for infants and toddlers, particularly in feeding practices. This includes not only a general understanding of nutrition but also specialized knowledge and support for the continuation of breastfeeding.
Best Practices for Supporting Breastfeeding in ECE:
- Providing a Private Space:
- One of the fundamental requirements outlined by national standards is the provision of a private space for mothers to breastfeed or #express milk. This ensures that mothers have a comfortable and confidential area where they can attend to their infants' needs, promoting a sense of security and dignity.
- Encouraging Breastfeeding at the Facility:
- ECE centers and family #homes should actively encourage and allow mothers to breastfeed directly at the facility. This not only promotes a breastfeeding-friendly environment but also fosters a supportive atmosphere where mothers feel empowered to continue breastfeeding while ensuring infants receive the nutritional benefits of #breast-milk.
- Comprehensive Staff Training:
- All #staff within ECE centers, regardless of their specific roles, should be trained in preparing, feeding, and storing breast milk properly. This training ensures that every caregiver and teacher possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to support breastfeeding mothers and handle breast milk with the utmost care.
- Developing a Breastfeeding-Friendly Feeding Plan:
- ECE centers and family homes should work collaboratively with each family to develop a personalized breastfeeding-friendly feeding plan. This plan takes into account the unique needs of each infant and provides clear guidance on how breastfeeding can be seamlessly integrated into the childcare routine.
- Ensuring Proper Feeding Intervals:
- National standards #stress the importance of ensuring that breastfed infants are fed expressed breast milk at appropriate intervals. This requires caregivers and teachers to be knowledgeable about the specific feeding schedules recommended for each infant, aligning with the child's age and #developmental stage.
- Educating Families on Breast Milk Storage:
- To meet national standards, ECE providers should actively educate families on the proper storage and labeling of breast milk for use in childcare facilities. This includes guidelines on maintaining hygiene, temperature control, and labeling practices to guarantee the safety and quality of expressed breast milk.
ChildCareEd’s Supporting Breastfeeding Practices In Child Care:
- Recognizing the importance of comprehensive training, ChildCareEd offers a specialized course titled "Supporting Breastfeeding Practices In Child Care." This course is designed to equip childcare providers with the knowledge and skills needed to understand the benefits of breastfeeding and support mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding after returning to work or school.
- National standards provide a comprehensive framework for ensuring that childcare providers are well-prepared to address the unique needs of infants and toddlers, with a specific emphasis on breastfeeding support. Best practices, including providing private spaces, encouraging breastfeeding at the facility, and comprehensive staff training, contribute to creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment.
- By prioritizing training and education in this vital aspect of childcare, providers contribute not only to the health and well-being of infants but also to the overall success and satisfaction of families within their care.
Register today for ChildCareEd’s Supporting Breastfeeding Practices In Child Care.