Grandparents don't know the best: a study finds

Grandparents don't know the best: a study finds

They may have raised you, but a new study concludes that their beliefs might put your child in harm's way if they babysit her often.

When it comes to asking for life advice, we always turn to our parents. And rightfully so, as they are the ones who have our best interests at heart. Even when it comes to raising children, no one is more enthusiastic than them in helping you out. However, due to the traditional beliefs, they may be putting your child in harm's way, even though they have the best of the intentions.

According to a report, a research study presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academics Societies meeting in May 2017 had this shocking revelation. Dr Andrew Adesman, Head of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center, New York presented these shocking findings. The study involved more than 600 grandparents who answered a questionnaire. It was mainly related to the safety practices in child care. The need was felt because more and more grandparents are playing the role of a caregiver when the parent is out working. 

A trained childminder has the necessary knowledge about the safety practices, and a know how about first aid. In contrast, the study highlighted that most of the grand parents believed in things that were in practice 20 or 30 years back. And, in the light of the newer evidence, some of these practices have been labelled unsafe by the American Association of Pediatrics.

What are these practices

While taking care of the child for a prolonged period of time, a grandparent has to take care of three basic things: food, sleep, and playtime. Occasionally, the child may fall sick, and a caregiver would have to manage the illness. 

The three main things that the grandparents believed in wrongly were related to sleep and managing fever. 

1# Putting the baby to sleep on the stomach

Many grandparents believed that it does not matter if the child is asleep on the bed one way or another. However, putting an infant less than 6 months to sleep on the tummy is dangerous. It has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the leading cause of death in babies between 1 month to 1 year of age. 

When the baby sleeps on the tummy, there is a chance of choking. Because of the age, the baby might not even whimper, and the distress signals would go unnoticed. Once the baby starts turning on her own, it becomes less risky, though, you should take care that the baby sleeps on her back all the time. 

2# Use of blankets and soft toys in the bed

Loose objects prove to be a smothering hazard for the baby. Granted, she plays with her teddy and may need her blankie to sleep. However, most of the grandparents thought that this was not a big deal. 

A safe bed for the baby would be devoid of any pillow, the bedding bumper should be avoided, or at least secured tightly. If you are using a mattress protector, make sure that it covers only the lower 2/3rd of the bed. The mattress protector and the mattress cover should be tucked in tightly, with no visible creases. 

If you have to use a blanket for the baby, do not let it cover the chest. tuck in the blanket from the three sides. 

AVOID using any crib toys and mobiles that may come off and fall near the baby. 

3# Cold baths for managing fever

This has been the traditional way to reduce fever. However, recent data has conclusively found a link between this and hypothermia - a dangerous condition for the child. Often, babies end up being unresponsive if they are given a cold bath. 

Another common mistake while managing fever in children is the use of Aspirin. It can lead to Reye's syndrome, a serious condition that may cause swelling in the liver and the brain. The correct way to manage fever is to contact a doctor. Paracetamol is safe for the use of children as long as the dosage is not exceeded. As this depends on the weight and the age of the child, it is important that you know the latest dosage.

Tips for grandparents

Most of us believe that a grandparent will take much better care of the baby than any paid childminder. That may not be always true. Grandparents are restricted by their age and the lack of a proper training in childcare. That said, it is not too hard to get the basics right. 

So, if your parents or in-laws are in charge of your child, here are 9 things they should know to start with

  1. Honey SHOULD NOT be given to babies under 6 months of age.
  2. Aspirin SHOULD NOT be used to treat a fever in children above the age of 5 years.
  3. Teething DOES NOT cause high fevers.
  4. Ice baths SHOULD NOT be used to bring down a high fever in young children.
  5. It is NOT safe to put an infant to sleep on his side.
  6. Ears SHOULD NOT be cleaned with a swab. 
  7. Rubbing alcohol IS absorbed through a baby’s skin.
  8. Foods such as raw vegetables, whole grapes and hot dogs POSE a potential choking hazards for children 3 years and younger. Cut them into small pieces before offering them to the child. 
  9. If the child has a nose bleed, encourage her to lean forward and gently pinch the soft part of the nose using a cloth. Ensure that the child can breathe. DO NOT encourage her to tilt the head back.

Share these tips with them so that they will be better equipped to take care of your child. 

Also, read 1 in 5 baby foods have lead in it

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Written by

Anay Bhalerao

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