(WFLX) - In this day and age it's almost a necessity for both parents to be out on the job. To save some cash, a rising number of couples rely on grandparents to take care of the kids. But could the one we call to duty the most be putting our precious little ones at risk?
For example Betty Boyko loves babysitting her grandchildren a couple days a week while their parents work. She admits times have changed since she raised her children, and so have many of the rules. "For instance, they said, 'The baby goes on her back; she doesn't sleep on her stomach'. My children slept on their stomach," she said.
While Betty now knows that rule, an alarming number of grandparents don't. In fact, a recent survey found many aren't aware of newer safety guidelines for kids involving sleep safety, car seats and walker use.
Dr. Kyran Quinlan with the American Academy of Pediatrics says it's important for grandparents to get up to speed. "There is new knowledge about what is safest for young kids and grandparents who regularly care for kids will need to learn about these things to do the best job," she said.
There is a lot of re-learning to do, starting with keeping the baby safe while sleeping!
One-third of grandparents surveyed said they would place a baby on its stomach. That's now considered risky, based on SIDS research.
Another finding: about half weren't aware of this other sleep danger. "They should be in a crib that doesn't have bumpers and stuffed animals and blankets," said Quinlan.
When it comes to the rules of the road, a quarter of grandparents would fail before leaving the driveway. "Grandparents felt it would be ok for a 9 month old to be forward facing in a car seat and this is also the opposite of what is true. It is clearly safer for 9 month olds to be rear facing in car seats," she said.
A startling 75 percent of grandparents thought it was ok for babies to use walkers. Experts suggest using activity centers instead.
Nancy Cowles with Kids In Danger says another no-no: using old baby gear on this new generation. "One of the first things a grandparent might do when they learn they're about to become a grandparent is think that now's the time to bring down the crib that their child slept in, toys they may have in the attic, and we would certainly urge grandparents to stop before they do that. Older model cribs are simply not going to be safe."
Stay up on recall lists. Sometimes, Betty admits she's a little annoyed by the changes, but knows there are benefits for the babies. "We don't want anything to happen to our grandchildren."
There are resources out there for grandparents looking for more information to keep their little ones safe. For health and safety tips, you can log onto the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site: healthychildren.org.
For important child product safety information and to learn more about recalls you can log onto kidsindanger.org.