Grandparents who take on the role of care providers for their grandchildren risk putting them in jeopardy due to lack of updated child care information, a new study found.
This is because grandparents rely on their old-school parenting know-how, which is often outdated, considering child care practices and guidelines have changed dramatically over the last two or three decades.
The study, led by Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York, surveyed 636 American grandparents on parenting techniques and revealed many of them were still using obsolete child care methods.
Outdated Health Care Methods
The "user's manual" to raising children has evolved substantially in terms of safety guidelines and recommendations.
It may seem like not much has changed, but what was considered common knowledge when today's grandparents were raising their own children has since then been called into question by modern medicine.
This explains why old-school parenting tactics can sometimes be potentially harmful for children who are being looked after by their grandparents.
"When grandparents step up to the plate, it can be wonderful for grandchildren but can also pose challenges in terms of lifestyle, finances and mental and physical health to a somewhat older or elderly cohort," said Dr. Adesman.
His research unraveled study participants were drawing their experience from proven myths, which they erroneously regarded as absolute truths.
Dr. Adesman's study shows this can lead to parenting mistakes, which can be avoided by simply keeping up with the latest guidelines on child safety.
Child Care Tactics Grandparents Were Wrong About
One of his study's focuses had to do with the proper way of treating minor health problems, such as fever or cuts and scrapes, at home.
When asked about the best way to deal with a high fever, 44 percent of survey respondents said ice baths were a good solution. Although this practice may have been popular at some point in time, ice baths were long ago linked to hypothermia risk.
"Many thought that an ice bath can bring down a very high fever. Sure, it might sound logical, but it's dangerous to ever put a child into cold water, because you can drop down the body temperature too much," explained Dr. Adesman.
In addition, 25 percent of the surveyed grandparents were not aware that the recommended sleep position for toddlers is on their back and not on their stomach on their side. Modern parents now know that incorrect sleeping positions are one of the biggest risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome.
Lastly, 68 percent of the interviewed grandparents didn't know wounds heal better and quicker if they are covered with a bandage
Dr. Adesman presented his study's conclusions at the 2017 Pediatric Academics Societies meeting on May 4.