Magazine article Work & Family Life

Visiting Grandparents for the Holidays?

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Visiting Grandparents for the Holidays?

Article excerpt

iho knew 40 years ago how much safer children are on the road when they're in car seats? Or that more American kids die each year from accidents and injuries than from all diseases combined?

We've learned a lot about other dangers as well-from garage door openers to microwave ovens to hot dogs.

If you are planning a visit with young kids to their grandparents over the holidays, be aware that many older people do not live in childproof homes. They may also be unfamiliar with some of the research on the causes and frequency of childhood injuries. For example:

" Accidents are more likely to occur when a child is in a new situation or under stress.

® Boys tend to take more risks and suffer more injuries than girls.

® Three out of four poisonings take place when adults are at home. They involve children under age five who have mistaken household cleaners for beverages or medicine for candy.

How things have «hanged

Most grandparents will appreciate your suggestions, but some may be skeptical and say the current generation of parents is going overboard on safety. And to some extent, that's probably true.

"There's an industry out there that didn't exist 40 years ago," says Lenore Skenazy, author of FreeRange Children. "The marketplace is brimming with products to keep our kids 'safe' from things we never used to worry about- like shopping cart liners to protect kids from germs."

So while some new parents are responding to advertisers' hype, there still are potential hazards to watch out for. For example:

If an infant will be sleeping in a borrowed or rented crib, make sure the mattress fits firmly. Fill up any gaps with rolled-up towels.

Look around for heavy objects or furniture that could be pulled down by a young child. Make sure that all TV sets, computers, monitors and printers are securely positioned. Put breakable items out of reach. Push table lamps away from furniture edges and make sure that all wall units are secured.

Are any cords dangling from shades or blinds? These can be dangerous to curious toddlers. Put plastic bags, cleaning products and other chemicals out of reach too.

Check for window guards if grandparents live in high-rise buildings. If not, remind everyone that screens will not keep a child from falling out of a window.

Remind grandparents to never walk away from a young child in a bathtub-even for one minute. Look in your older relative's yard, garage or basement for any large containers. A toddler can fall head first into a bucket and drown, even in a small amount of water or other liquid.

Mention the foods that can cause choking. Grandparents may not know that they should not give young children hard candy, nuts or grapes-and to always cut hot dogs into small pieces. …

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