Research Shows Grandparents Tend To Use Unsafe, Outdated Childcare Methods

by Cassandra Stone
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Grandparents ‘old school’ childcare methods can be dangerous

Who among us hasn’t utilized grandparents for childcare? Whether they watch our children regularly while we’re at work or for the rare night out, if we’re lucky enough to have living parents, most of us have relied on them at one time or another to take care of our kids. But according to a new study, outdated methods favored by grandparents can often put our children’s safety at risk.

Survey results presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academics Societies meeting last week showed grandparents tend to use the same childcare techniques they used when they were raising their own children decades ago. For example, nearly a quarter of the grandparents surveyed reported they were unaware that infants should be put to sleep on their backs. These days, you can’t even leave the hospital before acknowledging you know that laying an infant to sleep on their stomachs or sides often contributes to sudden infant death syndrome, the leading cause of death in infants under one year of age.

Additionally, a whopping 44 percent of grandparents in the study agreed that a good way to bring down a fever is by giving the sick child an ice bath. While this may seem like a logical solution initially, Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York and lead author of the study, told CNN doing so can put the child in danger of hypothermia.

“We shouldn’t assume that just because they’ve raised a child before, they’re experts,” Dr. Adesman says in regard to grandparents who provide childcare. He also said many other myths were both believed and practiced, like leaving wounds uncovered to “heal better.”

Our parents used to wipe us down with rubbing alcohol to bring our fevers down — and most refused to use thermometers, preferring the old lips-on-the-forehead technique. Yes, we’re still alive, but that doesn’t mean these practices are A-ok today.

So it’s up to us, fellow parents, to educate our kids’ grandparents. We can be appreciative of the loving (and often completely free) care grandparents give our kids in our absence, but no amount of guilt should prevent us from speaking up for our kids’ safety. You may fear that you’re coming across as condescending, but safety comes first. Many of us can be susceptible to the “Well, they’ve been parents for three decades and I’ve only got a year-and-a-half under my belt” way of thinking.

At the end of the day, our kids are our kids no matter who watches them while we work. So doing what’s best for them may mean an awkward conversation about safety practices sometimes, but whether you’re a grandparent or a parent – we all love them, and keeping them safe should be everyone’s first priority.