Grandparents are Not a “Risk” to Kids Just Because They Aren’t Up to Date On Latest Research!

Research presented at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies this month warns of a grave threat to America’s children: Grandma and Grandpa. The study suggests older people are so hopelessly out of date on child-rearing recommendations that they may put their beloved grandchildren at risk.

Of 636 grandparents surveyed, nearly a quarter didn’t know that babies are supposed to be put to sleep on their backs. “We shouldn’t assume that just because they’ve raised a child before, they’re experts,” Andrew Adesman, who led the research, told CNN.

Except—big except!—you don’t need to be an “expert” to raise a child. If you did, there would be no Kardashians. Children are hearty creatures, built to withstand Siberian winters, steaming jungles and even American suburbs. Besides, the “best” advice changes—and only sometimes because doctors have finally figured things out. Allergies to peanuts quadrupled as parents were advised not to feed them to young children.

It’s true that some grandparents don’t know the latest advice to keep a baby’s sleeping area free of stuffed animals and blankets to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. What grandparents do know, something many parents forget, is that putting a teddy bear in a crib isn’t daredevil behavior. “You’re talking about a minute fraction of risk,” says Hara Marano, author of “A Nation of Wimps” and a grandma. “The point is that no risk seems to be acceptable.”

A few years ago I met a delightful grandmother who was helping her daughter find a nanny. I suggested the one who’d helped raise my sons. “She’s smart, warm, incredibly caring—” The grandma cut me off. “How long since she has taken care of an infant?” About five years, I said. The grandma sighed: “Sorry, no. My daughter only wants someone with recent experience, because so much has changed.” We both raised our eyebrows and left it at that.

Today’s parents seem to believe nothing is safe enough for their kids. Dr. Adesman’s research has given them more ammunition. As one mom wrote at the august publication Parents: “Although sometimes I feel like I’m nagging my parents with the multitude of instructions I offer up before I leave them in charge of my kids, this research serves as a good reminder that you can never be too detailed!” Her advice for dealing with oldsters? “Use a gentle tone instead of lecturing them.” Yeah—and duck.

Slavish devotion to up-to-the-nanosecond advice sells scads of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Everything to Kill Your Kid”—or whatever the latest baby bible is titled. Yet it ignores the real-world wisdom of grandparents (and nannies).

When one of my sons was a couple of months old, my mother-in-law gave him a piece of cantaloupe to suck on. I practically slapped it out of her hand: “Solid food?! Are you crazy?!” I was sure he wasn’t ready. The boy, happily gumming the fruit, was pretty sure he was. So was my mother-in-law, who had raised three wonderful children with her blind husband.

Sometimes the best practice is to go with what works. Especially if Grandma is willing to babysit.

(This piece of mine originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal)

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My, what mid-century ideas you have about childhood, grandpa!

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52 Responses to Grandparents are Not a “Risk” to Kids Just Because They Aren’t Up to Date On Latest Research!

  1. James Pollock July 13, 2017 at 11:29 pm #

    “Except—big except!—you don’t need to be an “expert” to raise a child.”

    Nor does this CNN report say you do.
    The advice it does give seems inoffensive… it was this “Experienced caretakers can usually provide a safe environment, but to avoid unintentional injuries, grandparents and babysitters need to be just as educated when it comes to safety standards and first aid.”

    The real fun was way down near the bottom of the story:
    ” In a previous study, Adesman surveyed pediatricians (PDF) and found that only 24% answered all 12 questions about basic safety information correctly”

    In other words, even the EXPERTS might not be experts!

  2. SKL July 13, 2017 at 11:59 pm #

    This reminds me of a saying often repeated by a dorm-mate who is now probably a grandpa:

    “Bullshit equals bullshit.” 😛

  3. WendyW July 14, 2017 at 12:17 am #

    I saw this article when it came out and made the rounds on facebook. I just shook my head and moved on.

    I am the proud grandma of a 1yo girl. I’ve only been asked to babysit a few times, because they really don’t go out much, but I am the first choice of babysitter. We’ve only had one “how could you do that!” moment- when I handed the then-7mo an arrowroot cookie. In my daughter’s defense, I was very strict about what kind of food my kids ate, and I knew she was trying hard to be totally organic with the baby, so I knew where she was coming from. I hadn’t even read the box, which I was then horrified to see had a whole bunch more junk in it than they’d had 30 yrs ago. I was just going off the mindset of “babies have eaten these for a century, of course they’re OK!” A month later she very apologetically said the cookies were fine. A week prior she had posted pics of the baby enjoying a meal at their favorite restaurant – that was in NO way anything close to organic.

  4. Donald July 14, 2017 at 1:42 am #

    Hypochondria is a mental disorder. A hypochondriac has a cognitive dysfunction. It’s well known that a person that is constantly fantasizing about every possible health problem is an undesirable trait. However, constantly fantasizing about every possible problem that your child may face is deemed as ‘responsible parenting’. I disagree. I still think that it’s a mental health problem. I also like to compare passive craziness to that of passive smoking.

    Both are harmful to children.

  5. C. S. P. Schofield July 14, 2017 at 4:20 am #

    Best advice for raising your children right;

    Take any person who lectures you about everything you are doing wrong and stuff them, head down, in the nearest trash can.

  6. common sense July 14, 2017 at 5:38 am #

    all agencies and groups need to justify their existence. have you ever heard of one that said “well we’ve covered everything we can disband now”? nope they keep coming up with more and different proclamations. if I were a conspiracy theorist I would say this is another attempt to break up the family in favor of the state.”grandparents don
    ‘t know what they’re doing, don’t leave your kids with them, use a state trained and approved[and indoctrinated] child rearing professional”. yeah I know that’s stupid but sometimes I get the feeling that the so called experts really believe all new parents are just too stupid to raise a child without the experts trying to micromanage them.
    my daughter’s son would not sleep on his back, he would wiggle onto his side or back. the doctor actually told he would die if he didn’t sleep on his back and suggested she stay awake when he slept to turn him back if he wriggled over. can you spell sleep deprived? we pointed out if he could wriggle over he could wriggle back. kids now doing fine, his mom is no longer a zombie and she has a new doctor.

  7. SKL July 14, 2017 at 8:29 am #

    After taking custody of my two kids, I began to understand how much respect my mom deserves for having raised 6 kids, with various issues but none stemming from “parenting mistakes.” That too having very abusive parents herself, being raised in poverty, and being a working mom. I trust her completely. She has a lot more sense than the doctors who think tummy sleeping is a top consideration. They are stupid and will be eventually proven wrong.

    My dad, unlike my mom, is one of those anxious grandparents. Too protective – watches too many crime shows, LOL. But certainly not dangerous!

    I don’t do a lot of things the way my parents did. When my kids go to the grandparents’, they do stuff I don’t usually let them do. But they aren’t there for military training, they are there to bond with the grandparents. Frankly I have mellowed out a lot myself over the past 10 years, and I am likely to horrify my kids once my own grandkids come along. 😛

  8. Stacey July 14, 2017 at 8:29 am #

    “if I were a conspiracy theorist I would say this is another attempt to break up the family in favor of the state.”grandparents don
    ‘t know what they’re doing, don’t leave your kids with them, use a state trained and approved[and indoctrinated] child rearing professional.”

    @ Common Sense…. You are not crazy… It is the trend and that is the exact intention…
    Head starts, earlier and earlier entry into school/day care… also have the same effect.

    Your kid can’t possibly learn anything at home. Put em in indoctrination… er uh day care.

  9. Shobit Gupta July 14, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    Very True. Somewhere it was near to my heart.

  10. Theresa Hall July 14, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    My grandma babysat me till she had to go into the home. Never had any trouble.

  11. elysium July 14, 2017 at 8:58 am #

    It is amazing how fast the research changes – some recommendations changed between my first and second kid, and they are only 2 1/2 years apart! Most of it is not life-or-death, though, except the SIDS stuff. A baby that is usually placed on its back becomes at a much higher SIDS risk when then placed on its stomach. (Although ever since my son could roll over, he rolls immediately onto his stomach! Hah! It worried a babysitter once but I told her it was fine – they say if baby can roll over then baby is fine.)

    A simple, “Please lay Junior on his back to go to sleep, the recommendations have changed since I was a kid. This is extremely important,” should suffice for most grandparents. And if it doesn’t, you probably have bigger problems with the relationship and might want to reconsider them watching your kid anyway, right?

  12. Julie July 14, 2017 at 9:40 am #

    Clearly the grandparents in my family are very wise! Four generations of them have lent a hand as their children raised their grandchildren. Last month our great grandma became a great great grandma. She is unquestionably awesome and the baby boy who bestowed her new title is really great himself! The youngest Grandpa in my family was born in 1970. His grand daughter was all over him last week as we buried his own father.

    I would suggest that worrying about the skills and knowledge of grandparents is a useless effort.

  13. SKL July 14, 2017 at 10:09 am #

    And again, the “experts” fail to weigh the downsides of *not* having that time with the grandparents.

    Stupid.

  14. lollipoplover July 14, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    Man, I wish my Mom was still alive to be part of my children’s lives. This article only makes me sad that my kids didn’t get a chance to cook with my mom, hear her singing, or her stories of growing up in Ireland before she came to the US.

    Grandparents are a wonderful asset to help raise children. While my in-laws may have different views, I respect them tremendously and appreciate all of the free babysitting they’ve given us that has allowed my husband and I to take trips without kids! Their *ideas* are not outdated just theirs, they can follow polite instructions of what works best for our unique kids. They also suggest better ways which often helped a lot. I never believe any *experts* that think in terms of numbers and not individuals. A healthy, active grandparent who can keep up with a busy toddler and think on her feet is better than an *up-to-date* news follower who sits on the sofa watching cable news and probably wouldn’t let the kid play outside- ever- and lead to an anxious child. Give me the grandma that takes the kid to the park!

  15. SKL July 14, 2017 at 11:41 am #

    And frankly, grandparents are wise to be skeptical of research.

    When my mom was having her kids, the “experts” tried to convince her of all sorts of now-frowned-upon birthing techniques, diet advice including NOT breastfeeding, sleep advice, and all sorts of other things. Just about everything has gone back and forth at least once since she was old enough to help care for babies. Some have gone back and forth multiple times. Whatever the “experts” say today will be largely debunked when we are grandparents, so it is kind of silly to take it on like a religion now. Listen to your parents, don’t treat them like idiots.

  16. John B. July 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    “The study suggests older people are so hopelessly out of date on child-rearing recommendations that they may put their beloved grandchildren at risk.”

    Well, since the parents of the child are alive and well, couldn’t it be surmised that the grandparents (parents of the child’s parents) did something right?

  17. TheOtherAnna July 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    A stew can be hearty, a child is more likely to be hardy. Unless grandma accidentally puts the child in the stew.

  18. pentamom July 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    “Whatever the “experts” say today will be largely debunked when we are grandparents, so it is kind of silly to take it on like a religion now. Listen to your parents, don’t treat them like idiots.”

    That’s putting it mildly. I had kids over a ten-year span, and lots of “expert advice” changed, sometimes more than once, during that time.

    Besides the implication (James Pollock notwithstanding) that being an “expert” is a criterion for minding children, the infantilization of the grandparents in this approach irritates me, too.

    Like if there’s something that they’re doing that isn’t the most advisable, you can’t just say, “I’d rather you do it this way.” Sure, some grandparents are stubborn about doing things the way they’ve always done them, because all grandparents are human. Treating them as ineducable as a class, is highly annoying.

  19. A Reader July 14, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    The idea of grandparents being too outdated to know what to do is so far outside the realm of my experience as to be laughable. My youngest sibling is the same age as my middle child- large ultra-Orthodox family FTW! This is quite common in my community. The grandparents are, for the most part, still in the same child-rearing stage as their oldest kids and know full well what the latest is. And believe it or not, my parents have for the most part adapted to the newer “rules”, they didn’t just say “well, our older kids seemed ok”, they did do some things differently with the younger kids based on updated knowledge. But they’ve also weeded out a lot of the BS from the general cacophony of parenting advice because they’re very seasoned parents.

  20. Liz July 14, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    Because our son spent nearly 4 weeks in the NICU when he was born, we had the best ammunition for when anyone told us what we were doing was “wrong” or “unsafe”:
    “That’s how they do it in the NICU.”
    Nobody is going to tell you that the doctors and nurses who care for children all day, every day are doing something wrong. It shut up everyone.

  21. Jp Merzetti July 14, 2017 at 2:01 pm #

    wow.
    A grandparent could conceivably still be in their late thirties.
    My how time flies.

    Grandparents are necessary for kids’ perspective.
    They’re the only ones left who have living memories and first hand experience of a time when our brave new world wasn’t so toxic to kids.
    They’re the only ones left who grew up free range long before that term was ever coined (proving thereby that it is in fact, something entirely natural to humans.)

  22. James Pollock July 14, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    “Besides the implication (James Pollock notwithstanding) that being an “expert” is a criterion for minding children, the infantilization of the grandparents in this approach irritates me, too.”

    You’re inferring something that is not implied in the original article, so if you’re irritated, you have only yourself to blame.

    “Treating them as ineducable as a class, is highly annoying.”
    Then I guess you’ll agree that it’s a good thing that the original article, and the presentation it was based on, don’t do that.

    I think this is a bit of a biased interpretation of what the original story reports, and I recommend reading the CNN story, all the way through, before forming an opinion, because there’s a lot of people commenting here about how angry they are at… something that hasn’t happened.

    This is a news story about a presentation to a bunch of baby-doctors. Let’s start out by assuming that nobody’s hostile to anybody. The goal is, to have everybody who cares for a child to use the best possible methods and practices when doing so. Is that inoffensive enough? Does anyone object to that goal, as an aspirational goal? OK, so, remember the audience. Suggesting that there’s any advice to not let grandparents care for children in the presentation is flatly foolish… because pediatricians don’t choose caregivers. Pediatricians advise. And what is the actual advice that this presentation suggests for pediatricians to give parents? According to the CNN stry, it’s this…”Adesman recommends that grandparents use the same resources parents monitor for the latest child safety news.”

    Here’s what I believe the point was actually supposed to be… new first-time parents know full well that they are inexperienced and thus are most likely to seek out advice, and thus are most likely to obtain, and use, the best current advice. The medical profession puts a lot of effort into teaching this segment of the population. People who don’t care for infants don’t much care what the latest advice is for infant-care; people who are about to welcome an infant into their homes do. So medical professionals make sure there’s a lot of education and classes for people who are about to become parents. That’s the backdrop.

    Ah! says this researcher. But we (collectively) keep changing our minds about what the best advice actually is. It doesn’t happen overnight, but there’ve been a few cases where we’ve flip-flopped. Once we’ve taught all those about-to-be-new-parents what our advice is, around the time they are expecting that first child, do they tend to check in again to find out what the latest advice is, or do they just keep using the advice we gave them when their first baby was coming? And, what about after they’ve finished having infants of their own, but care for other peoples’ infants? Are they using the current best advice, or the best advice from back when we first tried to educate them, or something that hasn’t ever been the best advice of pediatricians, but is advice from other people (who aren’t pediatricians or who represented a minority view among pediatricians)?

    I suspect the actual point of this presentation was something like “we need to do a better job of making sure people are using our current best advice instead of outdated advice” They used a sample of grandparents because they believed that this would give them the largest pool of A) people who got their pediatrician-advice a long time ago (and therefore, the most likely to have learned it “wrong” by current standards) and B) who still might be asked to care for an infant.

    The CNN article points out that this same researcher had previously examined whether pediatricians themselves had the best (current) advice, and found that most did not. I suspect that the message of that presentation was similar… “we (meaning pediatricians) need to do a better job of education.”

    There’s absolutely NOTHING that says grandparents shouldn’t care for infants. The advice being given isn’t “don’t let grandparents care for infants”.

  23. Dean Whinery July 14, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    How, exactly, does being an academic mAKE ONE AN “XPERT

    How, exactly, does being an academic make one an “expert” in the nurturing of children?
    I dunno. Guess I’ve been dead for a very long time…slept under a blanket or two with a teddy bear until I was about 7…walked, or rode a bicycle to and from schools in a large metropolitan area (Los Ángeles) where gang grafitti was a normal part of the scene, I don’t recall ether of my parents ever darkening the doors of my junior high or high school…sold newspapers on a corner of two busy streets served by both streetcars (remember those?) and buses…
    Guess I didn’t survive.There were no “figit spinners” back in the “bad ol’ days”.

    h

  24. Anna July 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

    I absolutely agree that it’s ridiculous that parents would decide their own parents aren’t to be trusted with the kids because they aren’t “up to date” on the latest paranoias. . . but on the other hand, in my personal experience, I’ve found that grandparents are generally much more paraoid than parents.

    My mother-in-law is the one who had a fit when I let my 7-month-old feed himself real food, and tried to get my husband to stop me, she was so sure our son would choke to death. She’s also sure kids can’t be allowed to play in front yards or anywhere out of sight because “It’s a different world out there now.” She and my father-in-law hover when they take the kids grandkids to a playground, and admonish them continually to “be careful.” I often see other grandparents doing the same thing at the playground, whereas I only rarely see parents do that.

    Am I the only one who’s found this to be the common dynamic, in real life anyway, though maybe not in parenting magazines? (By the way, my working theory is that the grandparent anxiety I see is probably a combined effect of less daily familiarity with the kids and their capabilities, a feeling of being answerable to the parents rather than in charge, and a greater sense of mortality and fragility from physically growing old themselves.)

  25. Meredithwiggle July 14, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    My mom is the first person I ask for advice when I’m puzzled/discouraged/questioning some aspect of raising my two-year-old. I’m the middle of 5 siblings and we all turned out well (and every single one of us slept on our tummies! And guess what- so did my son, two of my nieces, and one of nephews!) It’s really sad to me that it seems like most parents of young kids just swallow whatever the “experts” tell them as gospel truth. Once upon a time the “experts” said smoking was good for you, too…

  26. aebhel July 14, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    I mean, some of the ‘latest information’ is nonsensical, but the info about SIDS and back-sleeping is pretty sound and has held up over the years. There’s also some evidence that an infant that doesn’t normally sleep on its stomach is more likely to have breathing trouble than one that regularly sleeps like that. This is for *infants* anyway, not toddlers.

    But if you can’t say, “Hey, Mom, can you put [baby] on her back to nap?” without destroying the relationship, then you’ve probably got bigger problems.

  27. SKL July 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    From the article: “With new guidelines and suggestions released constantly, it can be hard for anyone to keep up. The learning curve can be especially difficult for an older adult who isn’t surrounded by and exchanging information with other caregivers.”

    Kids are not like computers that keep coming out with new technology all the time. A baby born today is the same as a baby born 50, 100, 1000 years ago. They all work the same way. A person who successfully cared for one (or a handful) a generation ago, and is still physically and mentally capable, can be just as successful today, without any “updates” from “the experts.”

    So why are people listening to idiots who don’t know the difference between a baby and an iphone? Why is CNN paying these people to report such stupid crap?

  28. SKL July 14, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    The SIDS research has NOT held up over the years.

    What really reduced “crib deaths” was reduction in indoor smoking / blowing smoke in babies’ faces. Also there was a contemporaneous increase in other diagnoses such as accidental suffocation in bed, which used to be called “crib death.” Recently it was discovered that giving cough medicine to babies (a popular way to make them sleep) can be fatal; so that has gone out of fashion, reducing so-called “crib deaths.”

    Years ago I read an article that said autopsies of SIDS victims revealed that a high % of them had respiratory illnesses at the time they died. That is a link worth investigating, yet you never hear about it. Why?

    Back sleeping, when it isn’t chosen by the baby, causes actual problems with behavior and development. These problems are widespread thanks to “back to sleep.” I am patiently waiting for the recommendation to be reversed as they get better at (and more honest about) identifying the real causes of so-called SIDS.

  29. Eric S July 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    WT..?? Are you serious? That’s like saying Einstein (if he were still alive) doesn’t no squat, because he doesn’t know about the latest research in physics. Grandparents are like the pioneers of child rearing compared to these new parents. The old school way has worked for thousands of years. If this generation of parents kept it up, it would still be working for children of today. And I guarantee, children would be far better off than they are now.

    smh

    However, I have found some grandparents (sadly including my parents), have succumbed to the fears of parents today. Some in greater degree than others. The power of media on the ignorant.

  30. James Pollock July 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

    “Kids are not like computers that keep coming out with new technology all the time. A baby born today is the same as a baby born 50, 100, 1000 years ago.”

    This is only partly true. Things HAVE changed in the last 50, 100, 1000 years, and those changes affect children.

    We’re not that far removed from living with the expectation that 50% of our children will die before reaching age 5. We’re in a golden age for antibiotics, we have vaccines for any number of childhood scourges that once cut through kids. When I was a child, 50 years ago, it was a thing to deliberately infect children with chicken pox. “Get it over with!” was the approach. It’s true, most people only have chicken pox once… because when it comes back the SECOND time, it has a different name… shingles. (Hint: If you have the choice of getting the shingles vaccine, or taking your chances with shingles, take the vaccine.)

    Today, in most of America, clean, safe drinking water is so available we can throw it away… pour it directly down the sink while you brush your teeth. 50 years ago, people thought a home was safe for baby if it had asbestos, lead paint, and tobacco smokers in it.

    Even if you focus on dangers that only affect a small number of people… drop-side cribs, window-blind-string strangulation, choking on latex balloons… they don’t affect very many people, but that won’t be any consolation to you if your family happens to be one of the affected.

    SIDS takes the life of an infant, but also often destroys the family stability of the household, as parental guilt and blame play out. It leaves lasting effects on the survivors. It’s devastating. But sure, that’s all cancelled out by the insult poor grandma and grandpa must suffer when they’re asked “do you know the current advice on how to reduce the risk of SIDS?”, so better to protect grandma’s feelings. She might never recover.

    If your parents know how to avoid crib death, how to reduce choking dangers, and so on… good. That’s what the research recommended. But having kids doesn’t magically mean you know what you’re doing. Having successfully raised a child doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. It means you know what you’re doing OR you’ve been lucky.

  31. AmyP July 14, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    @Anna I have definitely noticed that. Recently my mother in law came to visit and we took the kids to the park. I sat down on a bench while the kids played in the playground. They’re 10, 8, and 4. My mother in law had a fit because I wasn’t right there on the playground with them. I could see them from where I was but even if I couldn’t the older two are more than capable of watching out for the little one. She was convinced they were going to get kidnapped. I tried to reason with her about how insane it would be to kidnap a kid from a playground of 20 or so kids right there with parents watching. Also, if one was so bold to grab a kid right in front of me, how exactly would I fight them off?? I’m 5′ and petite. My son would be more likely to fight a kidnapper off than me. She went on into how she sees it happen on the news all the time and I start talking statistics and calling her out on the nonsense but fact does no good either. Whatever.

    My own mom is not quite as bad (she’s a good bit younger) but even she seems to forget all the time I spent alone while she was working. She freaked a little when she found out the older two stay home after school by themselves sometimes.

    Maybe it’s just their personalities, but I’ve definitely noticed a trend. It’s usually older people that roll their eyes and make snarky comments about how their children NEVER misbehaved in public because they knew how to discipline them. Yeah, ok. I’m rolling my own eyes at that one. Do people forget what it’s like to have kids when their grown?

  32. pentamom July 14, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

    “This is only partly true. Things HAVE changed in the last 50, 100, 1000 years, and those changes affect children.

    We’re not that far removed from living with the expectation that 50% of our children will die before reaching age 5.”

    For the expert in spotting irrelevancies, these are beauts.

    The number of people who would be active grandparents caring for young grandchildren, but who have memories of raising children 50 years ago, is vanishingly small. The number of people who raised their kids in the age of 50% child mortality and widespread deaths from diseases now prevented by vaccines, who have young grandchildren, is effectively non-existent. I suppose you might have a few outliers similar to President John Tyler whose grandchildren are still alive, but presumably that’s not really a situation common enough worth writing an article about. So I doubt your facts, while true, have any bearing whatsoever on what we’re discussing, or on the point SKL was making about the basics of caring for kids not changing the way technology changes.

  33. James Pollock July 14, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

    >>>A baby born today is the same as a baby born 50, 100, 1000 years ago.

    >>This is only partly true. Things HAVE changed in the last 50, 100, 1000 years, and those changes affect children.
    >>We’re not that far removed from living with the expectation that 50% of our children will die before reaching age 5.

    >For the expert in spotting irrelevancies, these are beauts.
    >The number of people who would be active grandparents caring for young grandchildren, but who have memories of >raising children 50 years ago, is vanishingly small.

    Speaking of irrelevancy, I would imagine the number of people who would have be active grandparents caring for young grandchildren, but who have memories of raising children 100 or 1000 years ago is even smaller. It’s almost like “active grandparents caring for young grandchildren, who have memories of raising children” has is completely irrelevant.

    While the changes to human biology are pretty limited, the changes in how to raise children over the last 50, 100, 1000 years are many and significant. This is because, yes, our technology has changed. Our children do not exist in some magical bubble unaffected by changes (dare I say “advances”) in technology.
    I mean, if our kid gets sick, we rarely take our children to the doctor for a good bloodletting, to rid the body of bad humours, even though the fundamental biology of childhood disease is substantially the same as it was when we did..
    The sort of treatments (and the success rate we can expect) seems pretty relevant to whether or not we should listen to pediatricians for advice on medical issues, but if you don’t think so, you don’t think so.
    Perhaps you’d like to try moving the goalposts again, so you can score some points?

  34. SKL July 15, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    Babies haven’t changed.

    Environments have, yes, but not that much in the past 50 years.

    Please inform me what time period you are talking about when you say 50% of kids born in the USA were expected to die by age 5. And how exactly that is relevant to what my kids’ grandparents know about babysitting.

  35. James Pollock July 15, 2017 at 12:59 am #

    “Babies haven’t changed.”

    They have. They’re immune to some diseases they might have once suffered from, but at risk of some they once might have been perfectly safe from.

    “Please inform me what time period you are talking about when you say 50% of kids born in the USA were expected to die by age 5.”
    I didn’t say 50% of kids born in the USA were expected to die by age 5.

    “how exactly that is relevant to what my kids’ grandparents know about babysitting.”
    You need this again? OK.
    The advice that evidence-based scientists give should change depending on what the evidence-based science says. Evidence-based science can give you different answers at different points in time, because conditions can change, and the children do not live in isolation from their environment.
    People who operate under old advice will not be following the current, evidence-based assessment of “best”. This can have fairly trivial effects, fairly serious effects, or even none at all… based on luck. If you are and have been lucky, great! But the fact that you have been lucky does not mean that you will continue to be lucky.

    SIDS really sucks. It’s serious damage to a whole family, not just the infant whose life is cut short. It’s not something that strikes frequently, but it makes up for that by being awfully horrible to endure. Maybe you’re not concerned about the chance of SIDS striking in your family. Maybe you care, but don’t care enough to change behavior. That’s your choice. Maybe you don’t think evidence-based medicine works (that’s the impression you give above) That’s also your choice, too (although your state may overrule you when it comes to your children while they are minors and incapable of deciding for themselves, which is a topic for another time.)
    If I have to choose between A) decreasing my child’s chance of SIDS, or B) dealing with the hurt feelings caused by asking grandparents and other caregivers to use current information about medical issues
    I choose A, and you say you’ll choose B.

    Good luck with that. (I mean it, this is one of those rare cases where I really don’t want to be able to say “told you so!”)

  36. sexhysteria July 15, 2017 at 2:54 am #

    Educating grandparents is a good idea, and keeping the aging brain active also slows the progression of Alzheimer’s. But how many parents are up-to-date on the value of accurate, balanced and comprehensive sex education from the earliest age? Does PAS have the courage to talk about that?

  37. James Pollock July 15, 2017 at 4:01 am #

    “Does PAS have the courage to talk about that?”

    Yep.
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/126/3/576

  38. Jen July 15, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    If anything, my in-laws, who have taken my daughter for days on end since she was an infant, are more protective and because they have time to watch the news and morning tv as well as read the paper and a few magazines — more up to date than my husband and i are on all the new and changing info. They are experienced parents and level headed and capable of critically evaluating all the new advice and rules.

    The only thing that ever made me super worried is when i found out that they were using kitchen spoons to administer medication. But, by the time i found out, my daughter was big enough to be transitioning to adult medications. So, i sighed a sigh of relief and moved on. I would recommend that anyone leaving their children with grandparents not over worry about what they will eat or how they will nap — unless there is a medical reason to do so. BUT, definitely talk about the importance of using dose cups rather than kitchen spoons for medicine — which was common practice when i was a kid and I think through the 90’s.

  39. Jen July 15, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    I worry more now that my daughter is a tween — because they are not as up to date on the ins and outs of computers, internet, and social media and how easy it is to get into stuff (on purpose or accidentally) that she shouldn’t out there. And, they don’t understand that kids don’t get cut slack for making dumb kid mistakes and how quickly things can escalate over normal kid behavior.

  40. SKL July 15, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    I think where James is getting lost is that he’s focused on what “advice” a caregiver should listen to. An experienced parent does not act based on advice but based on experience, except when something really unusual comes up.

    When I became a parent, I’d already had a lot of childcare experience, enough to know that a lot of the “expert advice” was hooey. I credit my folks with more than that.

    If there was something I knew of that was certainly dangerous or illegal for my kids and my parents wouldn’t know that, I’d tell them. For example, I’d tell them the current car seat requirement if they needed to drive my young kids around. I think that is obvious enough that we don’t need a CNN article to tell us that.

    But CNN seems to have a bias against older people anyway, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that they would publish an article attempting to make grandparents look stupid and dangerous.

  41. James Pollock July 15, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

    “I think where James is getting lost is…”

    If I have to choose between A) decreasing my child’s chance of SIDS, or B) dealing with the hurt feelings caused by asking grandparents and other caregivers to use current information about medical issues
    I choose A, and you say you’ll choose B.

    I repeat my wish of good luck to you with that.

    “they would publish an article attempting to make grandparents look stupid and dangerous.”
    If you’ve been talking about a different article all this time, why didn’t you say so? What’s the link to that one?

  42. Anna July 15, 2017 at 5:26 pm #

    @AmyP: “She went on into how she sees it happen on the news all the time and I start talking statistics and calling her out on the nonsense but fact does no good either.”

    Your remark raises a fourth reason why grandparents are sometimes more irrationally paranoid: the amount of time many older people spend watching TV, especially TV news. That’s probably where my MIL gets her fears, now I think about it – they watch the nightly news religiously, as do many people their age that I know.

  43. Rachael July 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

    This is so sad. How many elderly and young would benefit from a relationship?

  44. Crystal July 15, 2017 at 10:27 pm #

    As a military wife who is rarely living around relatives, may I say how much I would love to slap those who proudly reject the offers of baby-sitting from elderly family members for such a ridiculous reason as this?? I would give my right arm for such a luxury!

  45. aebhel July 15, 2017 at 11:47 pm #

    @SKL, can you link me to that research?

    I’m not trying to be snide, I’m honestly curious (and I was aware that a significant number of babies who develop SIDS have respiratory issues; preemies are more likely to die of it, too, and probably for similar reasons). I know that there are some concerns that back sleeping can delay early motor development, but from what I’ve read the research is far from conclusive on that, and there are a lot of other factors involved.

    And I mean… a newborn doesn’t ‘choose’ to sleep any which way. Before they’re old enough to roll over, they sleep however you set them down. Once they’re old enough to roll over, all the advice I’ve ever heard (expert and otherwise) is to let them sleep however they’re comfortable.

  46. Jen July 16, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    I was a super nervous mom — I’m naturally prone to worry — and work hard not to pass that along to my daughter.
    My daughter spent her first few months in a pack and play set to bassinet level beside our bed. I read about no blankets, no toys, etc. However, for some reason she was always congested — we finally had to prop her up on pillows so she could breathe and any of us could sleep — poor thing sounded like an asthmatic pug. Fortunately she survived — now as a tween, she sleeps completely wrapped in quilts like a mummy with nothing but her nose poking out and I’m still worried about her getting enough air!

  47. Donna July 17, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    “And I mean… a newborn doesn’t ‘choose’ to sleep any which way. Before they’re old enough to roll over, they sleep however you set them down.”

    I disagree completely. They may not be able to change their position themselves, but they can certainly chose not to sleep. Mine refused to sleep on her back from day one. She wasn’t much of a sleeper at all, but laying her on her back guaranteed that sleep would not happen unless she was just so exhausted from the previous hours of screaming that she passed out. (No, I did not leave her in her crib on her back to scream for hours. That occurred every day from 4pm to 9pm regardless of where she was or what she was doing).

  48. Anna July 17, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    @Donna: “I disagree completely. They may not be able to change their position themselves, but they can certainly chose not to sleep. Mine refused to sleep on her back from day one.”

    I agree completely. My son didn’t out-and-out refuse to sleep on his back, but on his back he slept briefly and fitfully, whereas on his tummy (once I freed myself from fear of official pediatric recommendations) he slept long and soundly, and woke up well-rested, finally. In fact, my understanding is that as far as we know, that’s common and it’s thought to be why back-sleeping lowers SIDS risk – because less-soundly sleeping babies are less likely to fall into fatal apnea.

    I thought her “Newborns don’t choose how to sleep” thing was hilarious – I’m guessing she hasn’t actually had one.

  49. Mary July 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    I love it!

  50. pentamom July 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm #

    sexhysteria: and do they know the latest on mining technology and the prevalence of food allergies among the residents of Patagonia?

    I mean, as long as we’re just talking about the things we want to talk about instead of what this article is about, we could take this in all kinds of directions, right?

  51. Elin Hagberg July 18, 2017 at 3:37 am #

    If they are not updated, update them. It is really not that hard. My MIL (my children’s only living grandparent) is extremely scared something will happen to the kids and has on occasion chased them around the house laying out blankets and pillows in case they fall over (not joking) but she was extremely uninformed about car safety. She questioned rearfacing (which has been a thing in my country for much longer than in the US and would have been talked about even when my husband was child at least as an option) and we have had to explain it several times over the years. She was also very critical of us not having a feeding schedule for both our kids despite us explaining that feeding on demand is recommended and what we are the most comfortable with ourselves too. “But what is his/her feeding schedule?” “He/she cannot be hungry now! He/she ate less than an hour ago, you need to make sure they are hungry before feeding or they will not eat properly” Despite her objections she was able to observe that our kids cry so much less than my husband and seem so content but would not connect that to on-demand feeding even when my husband pointed that out. (Disclaimer: I know that some kids do better on a schedule but they are a minority)

  52. Anna July 18, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    @Elin: “She was also very critical of us not having a feeding schedule for both our kids despite us explaining that feeding on demand is recommended and what we are the most comfortable with ourselves too. “But what is his/her feeding schedule?” “He/she cannot be hungry now! He/she ate less than an hour ago, you need to make sure they are hungry before feeding or they will not eat properly” Despite her objections she was able to observe that our kids cry so much less than my husband and seem so content but would not connect that to on-demand feeding even when my husband pointed that out.”

    Hilarious! My mother did (and does) EXACTLY this, even concerning the grandkid who was four months premature and underweight, if you’ll believe that. I ignored it, but my two older sisters each did it my mom’s way with their first child – they still comment how those first children cried constantly, whereas their later, on-demand-fed kids barely ever cried. But my mom still can’t see it.

    By the way, are you Danish? I ask because of your name and because my mom is, and the dynamic you’re describing is exactly the same. My mom is so convinced her ideas of schedule feeding are “the Danish way” – and I guess maybe they were, in the fifities.