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Grandparents may not be aware of current safety recommendations

November 14, 2012

Sending the kids over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the weekend isn’t just great for the kids, it’s a luxury for Mom and Dad, too. But, recent research indicates that grandparents may not be aware of current safety recommendations for children.

In a small study, which was presented recently at the (AAP) national conference, grandparents were asked to complete a survey about childcare safety practices. The questionnaire asked about the proper sleep position for infants, car seat safety, crib safety and the use of certain toys or devices.

Here are some of the findings:

  • When asked about the best sleep position for a baby, only 44% of grandparents correctly identified the back as the safest position for baby to sleep. The AAP recommends infants be placed on their backs to sleep to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • When asked about proper car seat positioning for a 22-lb 9-month-old infant, 23% of grandparents felt that the infant should be facing forward in the car seat, even though the AAP recommends that children should be rear-facing until two years of age.
  • When asked whether it is safe for crib bumpers, stuffed animals or blankets to be placed in a crib with a baby, 49% of grandparent caregivers thought it was acceptable to do so, but the AAP has recommended against any of these items in a crib.
  • When asked whether the use of walkers is a good way for baby to learn to walk, 74% of grandparents said yes, when in fact the AAP discourages the use of such devices for safety reasons.
It’s important to mention that this study represents a small group of people, and without taking into account other factors such as socioeconomic status, cultural influences, and educational backgrounds, we can’t assume that these individuals are representative of the population of grandparents at large.

However, it does highlight an important consideration. Many of us depend on extended family and other parenting surrogates to help shoulder the responsibilities of raising children. Are those who we’ve entrusted with the care of our children as knowledgeable about how to care for them as they should be?

And often, when grandparents care for grandchildren, they provide care within their own homes, instead of the child’s usual environment. Making sure that kids are just as safe at Grandma’s as they are at home is an important consideration.

Here are some things to keep in mind when children visit a grandparent’s home:

  • Safety guidelines for children’s furniture and equipment are constantly changing. If your parents have saved cribs, changing tables, high chairs, toys or other baby equipment from your own childhood, chances are they do not meet today’s safety requirements. Buy new, up-to-date furniture.
  • Ensure that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in proper working order
  • Place gates at the top and bottom of staircases to prevent falls
  • Place child-safety locks on any cabinets containing chemicals or cleaning solutions
  • Make sure all medicines, inhalers, and medical devices are placed in a locked cabinet out of reach of children
  • Remove any guns or weapons from the home. If they aren’t removed, be sure guns are stored unloaded and locked up out of a child’s reach. Lock all bullets in a separate place. Do not allow children access to the keys.
  • If your parents’ home has a pool, make sure there is a 4ft tall fence around the pool and it remains locked at all times
  • Place outlet covers over all electrical outlets
  • Position soft covers or bumper around sharp corners of furniture
  • Move out of reach any small toys or household items that could fit into a child’s mouth, such as batteries or coins
Here are a few more resources you can use to make sure that grandparents (or any other caregivers) have the most up-to-date information about what’s best for your child:

Safe sleep for babies

Car seat safety

Swimming pool safety

Choking prevention

When we know better, we do better. We’ve learned a lot in the last thirty years about how to keep our kids safer and healthier. Let’s put that knowledge to good use.