Are grandparents harming kids with old-fashioned parenting beliefs?

We know they mean well, but when your parents step in to babysit your kids, chances are good they use the same practices they did when they were parenting you. But new studies show some of these may be outdated, putting your kids at risk.

Examining the extent to which grandparents were subscribing to outdated parenting tactics, Dr Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioural paediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, learned that many myths were still held as truths.

ALSO SEE: Should grandparents discipline the kids?

The study involved a questionnaire completed by 636 people in the US who self-identified themselves as grandparents. What was hair-raising, is that within that group, nearly a quarter did not know that babies should be put to sleep on their backs, not on their stomachs or sides.

Another finding was that 44% “believed that ice baths are a good way to bring down a high fever.”

In fact, an ice bath can cause hypothermia and using lukewarm or cool water is safer.

When asked whether scrapes or cuts heal better with or without a bandage, 68% of grandparents did not know that wounds should be covered. Most did know, however, that butter shouldn’t be used to treat minor burns.

With new guidelines and suggestions released regularly, Dr Adesman ceded that it’s difficult for anyone to keep up, but especially for an older adult who isn’t always surrounded by, and exchanging information, with other caregivers.

Good advice

One takeaway from the research is that grandparents should take a “refresher” childcare course before taking on the responsibility of looking after your kids – even if it’s just occasionally.

Doctors and healthcare providers can also help by providing them with the most up-to-date methods.

The bottom line is that if granny and grandpa are helping you to care for your child, don’t make the mistake of assuming they know or understand everything about what’s safe for your child. We know they would never intentionally hurt your child, but at the end of the day, a lot has changed since they were changing nappies and it’s really good for them to be empowered with the latest thinking, too.

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