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Learning from the past: Debunking outdated parenting tips

January 15, 2018
Caring for Kids , Mirror Moms

Soccer practice. Dance recital. Doctor's appointment. Today's crazy family schedules often require parents to rely on grandma and grandpa to help care for little ones. Whether it's a school pick-up or babysitting while mom and dad are at work, grandparents frequently play a large role in caring for kids.

In the decades since grandparents raised their own children, however, certain parenting practices have evolved - catching some grandparents unaware and potentially threatening their grandchildren's safety. A recent study from Northwell Health ( found that a majority of grandparents still believe in outdated caretaking practices from 20 to 30 years ago. Now is a great time to remind grandparents and other family members about new updates in best practices for common caretaking situations.

Back to sleep: Always put baby to sleep on his or her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). And while it's easy to think pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals are comforting to baby, baby should be placed in a safety-approved crib covered only by a fitted sheet.

Car seat safety: We've come a long way in car seat safety over the years. Your child should be placed in the proper car seat fitted for his or her age and weight. New guidelines state that children under two years old must be securely fastened in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system.

Burn treatment: Using butter to treat burns is a common old wives' tale. Actually, putting butter on a burn keeps the skin from cooling and can make the injury worse! Treat mild first degree burns by holding a cool compress on the affected area for thee to five minutes or submerging the area under cool running water. Seek medical attention immediately for any serious burns.

Fever: Fever is the body's immune system reacting and trying to clear a pathogen. Never treat a child's fever by placing him or her in an ice bath. Ice baths can cause hypothermia by bringing down the child's body temperature too much. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are the standard treatments for fever. The goal should be making the child comfortable, NOT simply achieving a normal temperature. Call your child's pediatrician if he or she is under six weeks of age and has a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Likewise, consult your pediatrician for any child with fever above 104 degrees Fahrenheit or which persists for longer than 48-72 hours.

Cuts: It used to be thought that cuts and scrapes heal better if they were left uncovered. The best way to make sure cuts heal without getting infected is thoroughly wash the affected area, then keep it covered the area with antibacterial ointment and a bandage until it is healed.

If you or your child's grandparents are unsure how to treat a specific issue, call your child's pediatrician. For more information on this or other healthy kids' topics, call Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics toll-free at 844-278-4600 or visit

Rachel Zimmerman, DO, is a provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group Pediatrics. Originally from Mifflintown, Dr. Zimmerman earned her bachelor's degree in life sciences from The Pennsylvania State University and her medical degree from the Lake Erie School of Osteopathic Medicine.



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