Study Says Grandparents Old-School Parenting Puts Children at Risk

Grandparents who care for their grandchildren tend to use the same practices they did when they were parenting, but some of them may be outdated, putting their grandchildren at risk, according to a new study.

A research study presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academics Societies meeting reveals while many grandparents feel that since they’ve raised their own children to adulthood, their methods are safe. But that is not always the case, according to Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York and lead author of the study.

Grandparents were surveyed on child care techniques such as putting children on their backs to sleep, having loose bedding in a crib and using ice baths to lower a high fever.

In the past 20 or 30 years, parenting practices and guidelines have evolved. Like the practice of giving water to an infant after they are born. Or starting solids in the first couple of months of life itself.

“We shouldn’t assume that just because they’ve raised a child before, they’re experts,” Adesman said.
The study involved a questionnaire completed by 636 participants who are grandparents. Within that group, nearly a quarter did not know that infants should be put to sleep on their backs, not on their stomachs or sides. An incorrect sleeping position is a major risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – which is the leading cause of death among babies till 1 year of age.

Forty-four percent of the grandparents surveyed agreed that “ice baths are a good way to bring down a very high fever.” In fact, ice baths can pose a hypothermia risk.