Tragic Death of 4-Month-Old Doesn't Mean Daycare Is Bad for Babies

cribThere's nothing quite as heartbreaking as the sudden, unexplained death of an infant. When I heard about the 4-month-old baby who was found dead this week after being put down for a nap at a daycare center in Levittown, Long Island, I literally felt physically ill. I can't even begin to wrap my head around the anguish those parents are experiencing.

But there's another reason why this death was tragic. Already the question is being raised: Is a 4-month-old baby too young to be in daycare in the first place?

Not only is this unfair to the parents of this baby and Karen Shriver, the owner of the daycare center (autopsy results aren't in yet, so we don't know why this baby died or if Shriver is at fault), it's unfair to the millions of parents who have no choice but to put their infants in daycare and the millions of loving professionals who care for those babies.

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There are so many good and valid reasons why a parent would choose to put their baby in daycare (as opposed to hiring a nanny or babysitter). Expense is a huge factor, but there are others as well, such as wanting your baby to have the benefit of early socialization and feeling safer leaving your child at a licensed center (like this one), where there's the added assurance of knowing that state officials are regularly checking up on the facility.

To assume that this child, or any child, died because he was too young to be in daycare is ignorant. Sadly, plenty of stay-at-home moms find their babies unresponsive in the same horrible way Karen Shriver found this baby. When it comes to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, we have more questions than answers. That's why it's called Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and not something more specific.

Until the autopsy results are in, I just can't see any point to speculating about the cause of this tragedy. It's painful enough to think about.

Do you think it's unfair to say this baby's death had anything to do with daycare?


Image via angelcandy.baby/Flickr

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