It Turns Out Our Parents Really Don’t Know What The Hell They’re Doing When They’re Watching Our Kids

I know a lot of us feel funny correcting our parents about parenting.  But sometimes it’s necessary.  Really necessary. It seems the details that may seem obvious to new parents are lost on those of past generations.

A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren and a new study suggests they may not be as informed as they need to be when it comes to safety.

While grandparents do have years of child-rearing experience, a study presented this week at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference says some are relying on old data and unintentionally putting their grandkids’ health and safety at risk.

We often joke about the things our parents used to do when we were kids, that are considered unacceptable now. Smoking around us.  Not putting us in car seats or forcing us to use seat belts. Soothing aching gums with whiskey.  These are all things that we tend to laugh about because in retrospect – they are just so wrong.  If your parents are caregivers for your children, you can probably rest assured that they are not going to backpedal into any of these behaviors.

It’s the safety guidelines that have become “standard” today that we need to worry about.  The things that might not be so obvious to an adult who hasn’t cared for a baby in decades.

When the participants of the study were asked in what position babies should sleep, only 43% answered correctly – on their backs. The AAP has been recommending that children sleep on their backs since 1992. This statistic is scary, because it was this recommendation by the AAP that is believed to have cut deaths by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in half.  Since this has been know for 20 years, you might not think to mention it.  Think again.

Another disturbing result came when grandparents were asked what should be in the crib with a sleeping infant.  49% said bumpers, blankets and stuffed animals were okay.  Only 26.5% answered correctly – just a mattress and a sheet. Carseats were another thing that many grandparents were misguided about.  25% thought a 22-pound nine-month-old should be facing forward.

While this is just a small survey, Soong says her gut feeling is that this is applicable across the board and that “pediatricians need to be aware grandparents may have knowledge deficits. ” She adds that even if grandparents don’t have primary care of these kids, parents need to educate their parents on safety guidelines before leaving children in their care.

My mother raised five children.  I was the youngest of those five.  I didn’t have a child until I was 37-years-old.  When my mom came to stay with me and help with my newborn, I didn’t really think about the fact that it had been 37 years since she had one of her own.  It felt really odd to correct her behavior – and it still does.  Just last week she recommended I give my toddler a sponge bath with rubbing alcohol to lower his fever.  I lived through those sponge baths, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Our parents weren’t this careful – and we turned out fine!” This may or may not be true, but I’m not going to turn a blind eye to guidelines that keep my child safe just because I lived through a time when parents were less informed.  No offense, Mom.

(photo: Ermolaev Alexander/

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