Grandparents: Safety First (Fun and Cookies Next!)
June 27, 2023
As a grandparent, one of the greatest joys is spending quality time with your grandkids. Of course, keeping them safe while they’re with you is also at the forefront of your mind.
“Although you have experience raising your own kids, you may find that the safety guidelines you followed have changed over the years,” says Mary L. McLaughlin BSN, RN, CCCE, IBCLC, a lactation consultant at University Hospitals who also teaches grandparenting safety classes.
To give you a refresh, here’s what you need to know about keeping your grandkids out of harm’s way so you can concentrate on what really matters: showering them with love and having plenty of fun.
Childproof Your Home in 6 Steps
When preparing your home for your grandkids’ visit, use this safety checklist.
- Smoke detectors: Check that they’re placed in proper locations throughout your home and are functioning.
- Pets: Always supervise when your grandkids and pets are in the same room. If you have pets that don’t behave well with kids, keep them separate. Store pet food and treats in places kids can’t reach. Teach your grandkids how to act around household pets. Kids should know not to pet a dog or cat while the pet is sleeping or eating and not to tease or taunt them.
- Escape plans: In case of a fire or emergency, have a clear plan in advance.
- Gates: Place them at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Outlets: Cover outlets to prevent an electrical shock.
- Soft covers: Position covers or bumpers around sharp furniture to prevent bumps and bruises.
In addition, you should seal your cabinets with childproof locks and move any dangerous chemicals in your home – such as those used for cleaning and gardening – out of little ones’ reach. Store any medications out of sight and in child-resistant containers.
Get the Right Grandkid Gear
If you’ve kept cribs, playpens, toys, strollers or other items that your own children used, they’re probably no longer considered safe. McLaughlin advises that these should be replaced with new models that meet current safety standards.
- Sleep safely. Place infants to sleep on their backs during naps and at bedtime to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you stop swaddling infants when they start trying to roll over – often as early as two months of age or sooner. And remove blankets, stuffed animals, and bumpers from infant cribs.
You can also purchase a Pack ’n Play which is easily portable and stowable if you need a safe place for infants to sleep.
- Buckle up on the go. Whether taking your grandkids to the zoo or the beach, make sure you have proper car seats. Children should remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. This same rule applies once kids start using forward-facing car seats with harnesses. And for children who exceed the weight or height limit for their car seat, use a booster seat until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt fits them correctly.
If you’re transporting your grandchildren on a regular basis, you may want to purchase your own car seat or booster. Many hospitals and fire stations offer free assistance to ensure the seat is properly installed.
Brush Up on CPR
It’s important for anyone caring for a young person to attend an Infant/Child CPR class to know what to do in an emergency. If it has been two years or longer since you had CPR training – or if you’ve never had it – you should brush up on your skills. Visit heart.org/cpr to find a class online or near you.
Remember, your role is to be supportive of your own children’s wishes when helping take care of your grandchildren. With a little preparation, you can help make it a great experience for everyone.
University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s has a wide network of highly skilled pediatricians at convenient locations across the region. Our specialists have the advanced training and experience to care for children of all ages and provide parents with the support and encouragement they need.