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Ministry developing policy to guide babysitters

Published: 
Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Ministry of Gender and Child Development is in the process of developing a policy to guide nursery operations and to regulate childminders in T&T.

Minister of Gender Ayanna Webster-Roy said this in a brief telephone interview on Friday afternoon.

Webster-Roy said one of her first areas of focus in the ministry was to look at the care of young children, as it was an area she felt needed attention.

At present, there are no legal guidelines or regulations for establishing a nursery or child care centre in T&T. The new policy, which is expected to be implemented by the Children’s Authority, will require the licencing of all nurseries in the country.

Last week, Lisa Ramjattan, 26, found her son, Kristiano Aziz, unresponsive when she went to pick him up at his daycare. He was lying on his stomach in a bed top pen.

The child was later pronounced dead at the Princes Town District Health Centre. An autopsy found his death was caused by positional asphyxia and his death has been ruled as accidental.

Owner of the daycare, Chanmattee Deonarinesingh, said yesterday that she loved baby Kristiano and was very sorry he died while under her care. Deonarinesingh, 45, is a qualified nurse who has been running a daycare at her Barrackpore home for the past ten years.

‘Put babies to sleep on their back’

During an interview, Deonarinesingh said she would usually put babies to sleep on their tummy.

Medical research over the past decade, however, has suggested that babies should be put to sleep on their back.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 1992, recommended that parents put babies to bed exclusively on their backs in their first year.

At the time, 70 per cent of infants in the United States were sleeping on their stomachs. By 2002, that figure had plummeted to 11.3 per cent.

Over the same decade, deaths from SIDS—Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs—fell by half according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

In T&T, some mothers are receiving misinformation from medical practitioners as to the proper way for newborns to sleep. Theresa Adonis, a mother of a two-year-old boy was told by nurses after delivery to place her newborn on his stomach to sleep or on his side. It was only after her own investigation she discovered research which suggested otherwise.

The regulations will ensure that nurseries and childminders are sufficiently trained.

Permanent Secretary at the Gender Ministry, Jacqueline Johnson, in a telephone interview yesterday, said the Children’s legislation, passed in April 2015, made provisions for the nursery regulations to govern nurseries.