I am one of the lucky ones who has the support of two sets of grandparents to help raise my 2 kids: 2 nanas, 1 papa and 1 granddad. Whether it is to watch them on a PD day, or run them to hockey, they are always willing to help out (even to take them for a sleep over). This is the kind of help that many parents with young children dream of!
When I was budgeting for all the supplies I needed to purchase for my kids, I always had to think of getting “a spare” for those times my kids were with their grandparents. We forget that most of the “equipment” we have now, was not around when we were growing up.
I was reminded of this the last time my dad took my son to hockey and I had to say “don’t forget the booster seat”. Booster seat??? I wasn’t in a booster seat when I was 7 years old. In fact, the car my parents had may not even have had seat belts in the back seat!
As parents, we take such care in selecting the right crib, stroller and car seat. We follow safe sleep recommendations and do everything we can think of to keep our kids safe. This is just as important when they are over at nana and granddad’s house.
Grandparents may need some encouragement to make their homes as safe for your little ones. For example, remove some of their plants or decorations that may be within reach and use gates to block off rooms you don’t want children in and stairways if appropriate. Falls are the leading cause of childhood injuries in the home and account for more than half the injuries.
Also, don’t forget about medications that may be in the home. About 20% of child poisonings involve grandparents’ drugs. This can also apply when they come to your house for a visit. Did you know how many medications are in nana’s purse??? One tip is to hang up nana’s purse with her jacket in the closet, out of reach of children.
Remember, our parents made decisions on how to care for us and what products to use based on the information they had at the time. They didn’t do anything “wrong”. As new research comes out, we need to be sure to have a conversation with grandparents and anyone else who cares for your children. Share your concerns related to safety and how you can work together to ensure the children are safe as much as possible. Offer to help with car seat installation, childproofing, or pack and play set up. Take a few extra steps to keep your kids safe and you can be sure to relax when they are over at nana’s and granddad’s for a sleep over (and maybe even sleep in)!!!
Jennifer Schmidt is a supervisor with the Early Years Health Program and has over 15 years of experience working with children and families. She has 2 young children and wonderful parents and in-laws!