Are grandparents causing harm to children with their 'outdated' parenting beliefs? 1 year ago

Are grandparents causing harm to children with their 'outdated' parenting beliefs?

My children are obsessed with my parents.

And the feeling is very much mutual. My dad, as much as I think he always loved being a dad, clearly loves being a grandad even more, and calls his five grandchildren 'life's dessert.'

In the eyes of my children, their grandparents always have time – for everything. Stories, play, cuddles, movie nights, camping, pancakes, adventures – you name it, they love doing it together. And to my parents, their grandchildren really are the cherry on the cake when it comes to family life. They are colour and noise and fun and movement and joy and life.


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And I think this represents the relationship so many children and grandparents have together – it is a bond so beautiful and warm and sweet, and I genuinely feel so grateful every day for my children to have this with my parents.

However, some studies are now warning that as much as grandparents mean well, sometimes their rather 'outdated' parenting beliefs can actually end up causing harm to children.

In fact, some recent US-based research, presented at the Pediatric Academics Societies, surveyed grandparents 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 – and the results were a little worrying.

Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioural paediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York and lead author of the study, says that since they raised their own children to adulthood, many grandparents feel that their methods are perfectly fine and safe.


However, Dr Adesman says, this is not always the case, and many parenting practices and guidelines have changed since they were parents 20 or 30 years ago.

Advice and guidelines have changed

"We shouldn't assume that just because they've raised a child before, they're experts," Adesman said.

This becomes particularly important, Adesman explains, when grandparents function as caregivers, or are providing childcare when parents are working.

"With new guidelines and suggestions released constantly, it can be hard for anyone to keep up," the doctor explains.

"The learning curve can be especially difficult for an older adult who isn't surrounded by and exchanging information with other caregivers. But to avoid unintentional injuries, grandparents and babysitters need to be just as educated when it comes to safety standards and first aid."

In Adesman's study, it turns out that nearly a quarter of grandparents did not know that infants should be put to sleep on their backs, not on their stomachs or sides.

As well as the sleeping position, almost half of the grandparents questioned said they believe "ice baths are a good way to bring down a very high fever," when, in fact, ice baths can pose a 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."

Have you ever worried your parents or in-laws are putting your children in danger with their vintage parenting techniques? Let us know in the comments.