PhotoGrandparents often play a big role in the lives of their grandchildren, acting as babysitters and sometimes even helping to raise their grandchildren. But a new study finds many grandparents subscribe to outdated health myths that could put the safety of their grandchildren at risk.

Of the 636 grandparents who completed a questionnaire as part of the study, 44% believed that ice baths are a good way to bring down a high fever. Nearly one-quarter did not know that infants should be put to sleep on their back, not on their stomach or side.

Ice baths, the study authors point out, pose a hypothermia risk, while allowing infants to sleep in positions other than on their back increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Potential safety hazards

The new research cites the need for updated safety awareness, since many child safety practices have evolved significantly in the past 20 or 30 years. Here are a few potential safety hazards that can put kids at risk, and how to avoid them:

  • Corded window coverings. To prevent kids from becoming entangled in window cords, grandparents should move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords. Better yet, caregivers can replace corded window blinds, shades, and draperies with cordless window covering products (especially those marked with the “Best for Kids” label).
  • Crib clutter. Times have changed since grandparents were parents themselves. Instead of lining a child’s crib with crib bumpers, soft pillows, and stuffed animals, the AAP now says the safest way for a baby to sleep is ABC -- alone on her back in the crib.
  • Old baby gear. As we previously reported, not all products intended to keep little ones safe have an unlimited lifespan. Used toys and baby equipment may no longer be safe. To find out if child products around your home meet current safety rules, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
  • Medications. Grandparents’ medications account for around 38% of child-poisoning cases. To keep little hands away from prescriptions, put a childproof lock on the medicine cabinet. Additionally, be sure to watch your purse.

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