Grandparents caring for grandchildren raises safety concerns

Study: Not all grandparents aware of newer safety guidelines

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In this day and age, it's almost a necessity for both parents to be at work.  To save some cash, a rising number of couples rely on grandparents to take care of the kids.  But could the one we call to duty the most be putting our precious little ones at risk?  A new study reveals grandparents don't always know best.

Betty Boyko loves babysitting her grandchildren a couple of days a week, while their parents work.  She admits times have changed since she raised her own children, and so have many of the rules.

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

While she now knows the rule, an alarming number of grandparents don't.  In fact, a recent survey found many aren't aware of newer safety guidelines for kids involving sleep safety, 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 is 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," said Quinlan.

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 his or her stomach.  That's now considered risky, based on SIDS research.  Another finding is about half weren't aware of another sleep danger in the crib.

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

When it comes to the rules of the road, a quarter 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," explained Quinlan.

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

Nancy Cowles, the Executive Director of Kids In Danger says another no-no is using old baby gear on this new gener

"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. Older model cribs are simply not going to be safe," Cowles said.

Experts say you have to stay up on recall lists.  A study done by Kids In Danger revealed 3 children died and 27 others were injured in 2011 by recalled products.

There are online resources out there for grandparents looking for more information to keep their little ones safe.

For health and safety tips:

For important child product safety information and to learn more about recalls:

There's a Grandparents-To-Be class scheduled for March 6th at Destination Maternity at 4880 Big Island Drive from 6pm to 8:30pm.  It's $20 and teaches the "then and now" of caring for your grandbaby.  The program is through Baptist Health. For more information you can call 904-202-3140.

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