The study in the August 2000 issue of Pediatrics about the high rate of SIDS in home daycare suggests to me that this tragedy is the tip of a large iceberg. Most home daycares are unlicensed and run by older women who may have a wealth of experience — but who often don’t have access to the latest pediatric information.
Grandparents, also, may have great wisdom but may be without the benefit of what we have learned recently. They may be inclined to put babies to sleep on their tummies, use baby walkers, give pacifiers dipped in honey, start solid foods or cow’s milk very early, put rice cereal in the bottles, or a host of other things that we now know to be harmful — all because, “we did it that way, and it turned out fine.”
Yet when these same caregivers were young, there were practices from the past that they knew to set aside. And when our children are grown, they will have gained new knowledge to adjust what we know today.
The ancient adventure of raising children marches into the future with ever-new insight built upon the foundation of the past. The important thing to do when leaving your child with a care giver that doesn’t have access to recent changes in child safety and health information is to clearly communicate the things that are important to you. “We put Jennifer to sleep on her back. Please do not put her down on her tummy.”
But when you do give instructions, be sure to show the respect due the generation that raised all of us.