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 is safe and secure.
Before you have your grandchild visit or stay at your home, make certain that you have reviewed and adopted the safety recommendations you will find below.
Safety Inside Your 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 and programmed into your mobile cellular device. In an emergency, you'll want to call not only 911 when appropriate, but also 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.
Nursery & Sleeping Area Safety
- If you saved your own child's crib, stored in your attic or garage, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a grandchild someday, you should replace it with a new one. Guidelines for children's furniture and equipment have changed dramatically, and a crib that is more than a few years old will not meet today's safety standards. This is likely also true 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.
- Do not allow your grandchild to sleep in your bed.
- Keep the diaper pail emptied.
- Put "kiddie 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 coffeepot 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. Be especially vigilant that all medications of any kind are kept up and away from a child's reach and sight.
- 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 are going to be bathing the baby there.
- Never leave a child unattended in a tub or sink filled with water.
Baby Equipment Safety
- Buy new toys for your grandchild that have a variety of sounds, sights, and colors. Simple toys can be just as good. 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. Follow the recommendations on the package to find toys suitable for your grandchild's age.
- Because toy boxes can be dangerous, keep them out of your home, or look for one without a top or lid.
Garage & Basement Safety
- 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.
Safety Outside of the Home
- Buy a car 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. Do not place your own car 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 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, familiarize yourself with these water safety guidelines:
- There should be at least a 4-foot-high fence with a locking gate surrounding the pool.
- Make sure that fences enclose neighbors' pools, as well.
- Practice touch supervision anytime your grandchild is in or near water.
- You should also know CPR and how to swim.