As a grandparent, your grandchild's well-being and safety are extremely important to you. Particularly when they are under your care—at your home, in theirs, in the car, or elsewhere—make sure you've taken every step possible to ensure they are safe and secure.
Before you have your grandchild visit or stay at your home, be sure to review and adopt these safety recommendations.
Safety inside the home
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in the proper locations throughout the house.
Pets and pet food should be kept 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.
Medications should always be out of sight and out of reach of children and stored in child-resistant containers. Store your purse or any bags away from grandchildren if any medications are kept in there.
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 and programmed into your mobile phone. In an emergency, you'll want to call not only 911 when appropriate, but also certain specific family members.
Another safety consideration: walking aids could be unstable and present a risk; if possible, move them into the closet or a room your grandchild won't be able to enter when he visits.
If you stored your own child's crib in your attic or garage, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a grandchild someday, replace it with a new one. Guidelines for children's furniture and equipment have changed dramatically, and a crib made before June 2011 will not meet today's safety standards. This is likely true for other saved and aging furniture that could pose risks to children, such as old play yards.
Buy a changing table, use your own bed, or even place a towel on the floor to change the baby's diapers. As he gets older and more likely to squirm, you may need a second person to help change his diaper.
Don't allow your grandchild to sleep in your bed.
Put "kiddie locks" on lower 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 coffeepot or toaster.
Take extra precautions before giving your grandchild food prepared in microwave ovens. Microwaves can heat liquids and solids unevenly, and food 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. Be especially vigilant that medications of any kind are kept up and away from a child's reach and sight. Dispose of old or unused medications by following the instructions on the medicine label or package insert. If the label doesn't give instructions, look for a drug take-back program in your community.
Put nonslip material in the bathtub to avoid dangerous falls.
If there are handles and bars in the bathtub for your use, cover them with soft material if 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 mobile baby walkers.
Buy new toys for your grandchild with a variety of sounds, sights, and colors. Simple toys can be just as good as more complex ones. Remember, no matter how fancy the toy, your own interaction with your grandchild is much more important.
Toys, books, programs, and other electronic content should be age appropriate and challenge children at their developmental level.
Avoid toys with small parts babies could put into their mouths and swallow. Follow the package recommendations to find toys suitable for your grandchild's age.
Keep small button batteries, used in hearing aids and some remote controls, out of reach of children. When children swallow or inhale these batteries or put them in their noses, they can cause life-threatening chemical burns.
Because toy boxes can be dangerous, keep them out of your home, or look for one without a top or lid.
Make sure the automatic reversing mechanism on the garage door is operating.
Never leave a car running in the garage, as deadly carbon monoxide gas can collect quickly.
Keep all garden chemicals and pesticides as well as tools in a locked cabinet and out of reach.
Safety outside of the home
Buy a car safety seat to keep inside your car. Make sure it's installed properly (or have a trained professional install it) and that you can strap your grandchild into it easily. Experiment with the buckles and clasps before you buy the car safety seat, since their ease of use varies. Make sure you know 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 in your neighborhood.
On shopping trips, whenever possible choose stores offering child friendly shopping carts with seats low to the ground. Don't place your car safety seat into a shopping cart, and avoid putting your grandchild in the seat at the top of the cart if possible.
If you have a tricycle or bicycle at your home for your grandchild, make sure you also have a helmet for him, and make sure he wears closed-toe shoes to protect his feet and toes. You can let him choose a helmet in a special design or color so he wants to wear it.
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.
Keep your grandchild out of the yard when a lawnmower or other power yard tool is being used. Never let your child ride on your lap while mowing.
If you have a backyard swimming pool, or if you take your grandchild to another home or park with a pool, there should be at least a 4-foot-high (1.2 m) four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate surrounding the pool. Make sure neighbors' pools are enclosed by fences as well. Even if your grandchild seems to be a good swimmer, practice touch supervision anytime your grandchild is in or near water. You should also know CPR and how to swim.