As a grandparent, your grandchild’s well-being and safety are extremely important to you. Particularly when she is under your care—at your home, in her own home, in the car, or elsewhere—make sure that you’ve taken every step possible to ensure that she’s safe and secure.
Before you have your grandchild visit or stay at your home, make certain that you’ve reviewed and adopted the recommendations you’ll find here.
Safety Inside the Home
There are plenty of safety measures you should implement in your home to protect your grandchild. To keep some of these guidelines in the forefront of your mind, use the acronym SPEGOS to help remind you of the following:
Smoke detectors should be placed in the proper locations throughout the house.
Pets and pet food should be stored out of a child’s reach.
Escape plans should be thought about in advance, and fire extinguishers should be readily available.
Gates should be positioned at the top and bottom of stairs.
Outlet covers that are not a choking hazard should be placed over sockets to prevent your grandchild from putting herself at risk of an electrical shock. Use furniture or other objects to block access to electrical outlets, wherever possible.
Soft covers or bumpers should be positioned around sharp or solid furniture.
In addition to these general rules, be sure to keep important phone numbers by the telephone. In an emergency, you’ll not only want to call 911 when appropriate, but certain specific family members. Another safety consideration: Your special chairs or walking aids could be unstable and present a risk; if possible, move them into the closet or a room that your grandchild won’t be able to enter when he visits.
- Guidelines for children’s furniture and equipment have changed dramatically. If you saved your own child’s crib, stored in your attic or garage, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a grandchild someday, there is a good chance it no longer meets today’s safety standards and you will need to invest in a new one. (Use the same approach for other saved and aging furniture that could pose risks to children, such as an old playpen.)
- Buy a changing table, use your own bed, or even a towel on the floor to change the baby’s diapers. As she gets a little older, and she becomes more likely to squirm, you may need a second person to help in changing her diaper.
- Don’t allow your grandchild to sleep in your bed.
- Keep the diaper pail emptied.
- Put “kiddy locks” on the cabinets; to be extra safe, move unsafe cleansers and chemicals so they’re completely out of reach.
- Remove any dangling cords, such as those from the coffee pot or toaster.
- Take extra precautions before giving your grandchild food prepared in microwave ovens. Microwaves can heat liquids and solids unevenly, and they may be mildly warm on the outside but very hot on the inside.
- Store pills, inhalers, and other prescription or nonprescription medications, as well as medical equipment, locked and out of the reach of your grandchild.
- Put nonslip material in the bathtub to avoid dangerous falls.
- If there are handles and bars in the bathtub for your own use, cover them with soft material If you’re going to be bathing the baby there.
- Never leave a child unattended in a tub or sink filled with water.
- Never leave your grandchild alone in a high chair or in an infant seat located in high places, such as a table or countertop.
- Do not use baby walkers.
- Buy new toys for your grandchild that have a variety of sounds, sights, and colors. Simple toys can be just as good as more complex ones. Remember, no matter how fancy the toys may be, your own interaction and play with your grandchild are much more important.
- Toys, CDs, and books should be age-appropriate and challenge children at their own developmental level.
- Avoid toys with small parts that the baby could put into her mouth and swallow.
- Because toy boxes can be dangerous, keep them out of your home, or look for one without a top or lid.
- Make sure that the automatic reversing mechanism on the garage door is operating.
- Keep all garden chemicals and pesticides as well as tools in a locked cabinet and out of reach.
Outside Your Home
- Buy a car safety seat that you can keep inside your own car. Make sure you install it properly (or have a trained professional install it for you) and that you can strap your grandchild into it easily. Experiment with the buckles and clasps before you buy the car seat since their ease of use varies. Make sure you know that your grandchild is out of harm’s way before backing your car out of the garage or down the driveway.
- Purchase a stroller to use when taking the baby for a walk in your neighborhood.
- On shopping trips, whenever possible choose stores that offer child-friendly shopping carts with seats that are low to the ground. Don’t place your own car seat into a shopping cart.
- If you have a tricycle or bicycle at your home for your grandchild, make sure you also have a helmet for her. Let her choose a helmet in a special design or color.
- Although playgrounds can be fun, they also can be dangerous. Select one that has been designed to keep children as safe as possible; those at schools or at community-sponsored parks are often good choices.
- Inspect your own backyard for anything hazardous or poisonous.
- If you have a backyard swimming pool or if you take your grandchild to another home or a park where there is a pool there should be a four-foot-high fence with a locking gate surrounding the pool.