Hopefully, your family is still feeling a little bit of extra warmth and gratitude towards your grandparents after Grandparents Day last Sunday! Grandparents are often an invaluable resource to new parents – they can be the first people we turn to for advice, babysitting, or extra support. That’s why it’s especially important for parents and grandparents to be on the same page when it comes to safety issues and potential hazards that may affect their children. This post will address when and how to include grandparents in important safety conversations.
These safety issues can be sensitive topics to discuss – no one wants to offend another caregiver by criticizing their choices or implying that they aren’t acting in children’s best interest. However, if there’s one thing KID’s work has demonstrated, it’s that unsafe products and practices can affect even the most safety-conscious households. These conversations need to happen no matter what, and it’s always better to have them sooner rather than later.
Maybe the grandparents in your life act as nearly full-time caregivers, or maybe they only get a chance to visit every so often. Either way, there are a few safety basics that KID recommends addressing no matter what. Keep in mind that your safety priorities might depend on the age of your children, or you can think of the top three safety issues you want to prioritize based on your family’s needs.
Here are some issues that KID recommends to get started:
- Safe Sleep: The line at KID is “Bare is Best.” This means putting babies down to sleep on their backs in a crib with a tight-fitting mattress that is bare of other bedding or toys. Those extra items pose a strangulation or suffocation risk for infants. Make sure you’re using a crib that was purchased after June 28, 2011, when the most stringent national safety standards went into effect. Resist the urge to pull a crib out of storage, or buy one second-hand, as these were built to lower safety standards, might have been recalled, and might be showing signs of wear and tear such as missing or damaged hardware.
- Choking or Poison Hazards: Do some tidying up and child-proofing to make sure small items and potential choking hazards (use this trick to check) are out of reach of small children. This includes medications or other household objects, such as laundry pods, which are toxic to children.
- Travel Safety: For trips on bikes, scooters, skateboards, or rollerblades, children always need to wear a helmet. When traveling by car, children should either buckle up or use an infant, convertible, or booster car seat that is appropriate for their height and weight. The same rule applies to helmets and car seats: after they’ve been involved in just one crash they need to be replaced.
- Encourage all family members to stay up-to-date on recall information, new product hazards, and other trends. One easy way to do this is sign the whole family up for KID’s monthly email alerts, or our grandparents’ newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for the latest updates.
Whichever safety issue you choose to tackle first, it is important that all caregivers are on the same page about when and how to enforce rules – consistency goes a long way here. For example, if parents always require their children wear helmets, but grandparents often let the kids ride helmetless, the mixed messages can be confusing for the children, as well as make the rule more difficult for parents to enforce next time.