Grandparent caregivers not aware of recent safety recommendations
Many parents may not think twice about asking their parents to provide care to their young children. After all, these grandparents have already raised a family, so they must know what they are doing.
The number of grandparent caregivers continues to grow with an estimated 2.87 million grandparents now serving as primary caregivers to their grandchildren. This is a 20 percent increase since the year 2000. These grandparents may be providing childcare for working parents or actively parenting in the absence of the child's parents.
However, these experienced caregivers may be unaware of more recent safety and other recommendations for things such as crib safety, car seat and walker use and even sleep positions, said Jan Johnston, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension gerontology specialist.
"A recent study comprised of 15 questions that addressed common pediatric safety and anticipatory guidance topics for children of all ages indicated that many grandparents were not aware of more recent safety recommendations," Johnston said. "For example, when asked what they thought the best position for a baby to sleep was, more than one-third of the grandparents said infants should sleep on their stomach, while 23 percent said on their side and 43 percent indicated the back. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be placed to sleep on their backs to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome."
The study also showed nearly one-fourth of grandparent caregivers thought it was OK for a 9-month-old baby to be in a forward-facing car seat. However, the AAP recommends children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2.
Years ago many infant cribs were home to soft, plush toys, as well as fluffy blankets. Nearly half of all grandparents surveyed felt these items in the crib were fine to have around. We now know that such things can pose great danger to the infant while in the crib.
Nearly three-fourths of grandparent caregivers said they thought a walker was a good device to use to help babies learn to walk since they had used one with their own children.
Because of serious safety concerns, the AAP urges the public to not only not use them, but dispose of them as well.
"Safety recommendations and pediatric health are constantly changing and improving, and many recommendations are likely to have changed since these grandparent caregivers parented their own children," Johnston said. "Keeping them apprised of these changes will help ensure children will have a happy and safe experience with their grandparents."