Outlining New Safety Tricks For Grandparents

Grandparents often unaware of child safety guidelines that have changed

(RxWiki News) Grandparents have always played an active role in raising children. However, their numbers as primary caregivers have been increasing recently. Are they hip to new parenting guidelines?

A recent study found evidence that grandparents may not be aware of the most recent safety recommendations related to babies and young children.

A national association recommends that cribs contain only one sheet and be free of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or crib bumpers.

In the researchers' surveys, half the grandparents responded that these items are fine for a baby's crib. These extra items in a crib are linked to an increased risk for SIDS, suffocation and strangling.

"Learn the newest safety recommendations."

Lead author Amanda D. Soong, MD, of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues gave surveys to participants of three Grandparent/Kinship Care support groups.

The surveys included 15 questions related to common pediatric safety issues usually discussed at well-child check-ups. The issues included safety recommendations and guidelines related to sleeping, walking and car seats, among others.

The 45 surveys collected revealed significant gaps in knowledge about the most recent safety recommendations.

"While the caregivers may be experienced in caring for young children, there may have been many changes in safety and anticipatory care recommendations since they last parented," the authors wrote in their abstract.

For example, up until 1992, common wisdom about the safest way for babies to sleep was on their stomachs.

In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched the Back to Sleep campaign, officially recommending that parents ensure their babies are put to sleep on their backs. Subsequently, rates of sudden infant death syndrome dropped by 50 percent.

The children of most grandparents today, however, were no longer infants in 1992, so many grandparents may not have heard about the change in recommendations from stomach-sleeping to back-sleeping.

This is precisely what the survey results showed. One question on the survey was "What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?"

About a third (33 percent) of the grandparents selected "on the stomach," compared to 44 percent who chose "the back." Another 23 percent chose "on the side."

Other safety recommendations that have been updated several times in the past two decades relate to car seat use.

A quarter (25 percent) of the grandparents said a 22-pound, 9-month-old child should face forward in a car seat. The actual AAP recommendation is for all car seats to remain rear-facing until children are 2 years old.

Likewise, even though the AAP discourages use of walkers because of safety concerns, 74 percent of the grandparents responded that walkers are good for helping babies learn to walk.

The findings were presented October 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. Information was unavailable regarding funding and disclosures. Because the paper has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the study should be regarded as preliminary.

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Review Date: 
October 23, 2012