As more adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, grandparents are spending in-person time with their grandchildren once again. After months without little ones around the house, it may be necessary to brush up on safety reminders for the home, car, or garden for small children visiting their grandparents this summer.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that older adults place smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the proper locations throughout the house, keep fire extinguishers readily available and plan several escape routes. If very small children are in the home, pets and pet food should be kept out of reach as well as any medications. All medications should be stored in child-resistant containers but more importantly, out of sight and reach of grandchildren. Secure gates at the top and bottom of stairs can help prevent falls and soft bumpers applied to sharp corners on furniture will protect toddlers from injury.
Seniors caring for small children should also be careful about keeping mobility aids, such as a walker, that could be unstable for small children and present a risk out of reach. All caregivers should have important phone numbers posted by the telephone or programmed into mobile devices.
Because safety standards have changed significantly for baby products over the years, grandparents should not use cribs or other children’s furniture manufactured before June 2011. When changing diapers, use a newer changing table, your bed, or the floor – enlist the help of a second person if the baby is particularly squirmy. Never allow grandchildren to sleep in your bed with you.
While bathing grandchildren, never leave them unattended and use a non-slip material in the bathtub to avoid accidents leading to injury. Grandchildren should never be left unattended in a high chair or an infant seat placed on a table or countertop. Avoid the use of baby walkers and purchase age-appropriate new toys as old toys may present health hazards. Keep any small batteries like those used in hearing aids out of sight and reach of children. In fact, keep all batteries out of the reach of children as they pose any number of dangers not the least of which is the potential to swallow a battery.
Outside of the home, be sure to have a car seat that meets current safety guidelines and check that it is properly installed. Use helmets when riding bicycles or tricycles and keep any backyard hazards such as pesticides or garden tools safely locked away. Swimming pools should be enclosed by fencing with self-latching gates and children should only be near water under close supervision. Grandparents supervising swimming should be able to swim themselves and know CPR.