According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) almost 3 million grandparents are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren and yet many of them are not up-to-date on basic, current safety recommendations when it comes to things like infant sleep and car seat positioning.
A small study, presented at the AAP conference on October 21st, involving a questionnaire given to grandparent care-givers, revealed the following:
“When asked, ‘What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?’ 33 percent of respondents chose ‘on the stomach;’ 23 percent, ‘on the side;’ and 43.8 percent, ‘the back.’ The AAP recommends that infants be placed to sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When asked about correct car seat positioning, 24.5 percent responded that a 22 pound, 9 month-old child should be facing forward, and yet the AAP recommends that children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2. Last year, the AAP recommended that bumpers, stuffed animals and blankets be removed from infant cribs, and yet 49 percent of grandparent caregivers thought these items were acceptable. Nearly 74 percent respondents stated that a walker is a good device to help babies learn to walk. The AAP does not recommend walker use, and in fact urges caregivers to dispose of them because of serious safety concerns.”
The AAP raised the issue for their constituents, presumably, so that pediatricians will make an effort to talk about safety recommendations with grandparents.
I find this a tricky topic sometimes. Honestly, some of the old school advice I’ve gotten from my parents and others of their generation has been really comforting in the face of so much of anxiety foist upon us in this Age of Information and Risk Management. The moment you get pregnant it’s as if every medical, or otherwise official recommendation has the word “risk” in there somewhere. It’s enough to drive a modern parent crazy, and isn’t that a risk to the baby’s emotional health? But I do think that vital safety concerns have to be communicated to grandparents in a respectful way. The car seat recommendations are in a different category than ‘approaches to parenting.’
I find it helpful to show grandparents (and older care-givers, including nannies) information from sources like the AAP– or even get the pediatrician to go through the basics with them. The above safety recommendations are pretty straightforward. It can also help to use some humor and remind them how well they looked after you.
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her on Facebook.
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