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Child safety: What some grandparents don't know

February 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Betty Boyko loves babysitting her grandchildren a couple days a week while their parents work. She admits times have changed since she raised her children, and so have many of the rules.

"For instance they said the baby goes on her back, she doesn't sleep on her stomach. My children slept on their stomach," she said.

While Boyko now knows that rule, an alarming number of grandparents don't. In fact, a recent survey found many grandparents aren't aware of newer safety guidelines for kids involving sleep, car seats and walker use.

Dr. Kyran Quinlan with the American Academy of Pediatrics says it's important for grandparents to get up to speed.

"There's new knowledge about what is safest for young kids and grandparents who regularly care for kids will need to learn about these things to do the best job," he said.

And there is a lot of re-learning to do, starting with keeping the baby safe while sleeping. One-third of grandparents surveyed said they would place a baby on its stomach. That is now considered risky, based on SIDS-related research.

Another finding says about half weren't aware of another sleep danger.

"They should be in a crib that doesn't have bumpers and stuffed animals and blankets," Quinlan said.

When it comes to car trips, 1/4 of grandparents would fail before leaving the driveway.

"Grandparents felt it would be ok for a 9-month-old to be forward facing in a car seat and this is also the opposite of what is true. It is clearly safer for 9-month-olds to be rear facing in car seats," Quinlan said.

A startling 75 percent of grandparents also thought it was OK for babies to use walkers. Experts suggest using activity centers instead.

Nancy Cowles, who is with Kids In Danger, says another no-no is using old baby gear on this new generation.

"One of the first things a grandparent might do when they learn they're about to become a grandparent is think that now's the time to bring down the crib that their child slept in, toys they may have in the attic and we would certainly urge grandparents to stop before they do that," said Cowles.

Also, it is important to stay up to date on recall lists.

Sometimes, Boyko admits she's a little annoyed by all the changes, but knows there are benefits for the babies.

"We don't want anything to happen to our grandchildren," she said.


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