Secondary carers such as Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles can benefit from refreshing their knowledge of common hazards associated with infants and young children and current childhood passenger legislation.

Having support from Grandparents or other relatives to look after our children while we (parents) work, or study can be an enriching experience for both the carer and the child. And in some cases, an absolute necessity for parents who need to work.


The reason for this article is because my Mum is moving in with us before she moves into her new house. She is moving to be closer to my Partner and I and her Grandbabies, she will play an active part in our girls’ lives by helping take care of them whilst we are at work. Through the excitement and planning the move, I got to thinking this will be a huge adjustment for us all. My Mum is amazing, sensible, caring and safe and I had a wonderful childhood, but a lot has changed since the 1980s.

The technology has completely changed regarding child passenger safety and the products on the market are a lot more advanced with side impact protection, ISOFIX, and extended rear-facing now common practice. Not to mention the current safe sleeping guidelines are very different from when I was a baby, the launch of the most significant safe sleeping campaign began in the late 80’s early 90’s so I was well and truly out of a cot by then.

In addition to this, my partner’s parents are visiting for a month from Scotland, therefore we will have a lot happening in our house and this will be a change in routine for everyone, therefore, we plan to try and maintain strong communication and keep our girl’s safety in mind.

Injury prevention

We plan to try and communicate the best we can in our busy and sometimes crazy household and we have said we will never assume someone else is supervising the children. If we see something happen that is a near miss, then we will talk about it and think of it as a free lesson. An opportunity to try and learn from things that pop up because life is never smooth. Our new routine will require some getting used to and learning from our parents is invaluable when it comes to understanding the way that things used to be done and working out the best routine going forward. I firmly believe having her generation’s influence is invaluable for our girls.

Some of the key things for discussion in our house going forward:


Mum knows I am particular about how and where medication is stored. Over the past few years my Father’s ill health meant he was required to have an incredible amount of medication each day mainly for pain relief and infection management.

Our two girls are naturally curious like most children at their age and they are fast; therefore, we always talk about securely storing medications because it was something I felt nervous about.

Even the mildest chemicals, medicines, animals and plants can be dangerous to small or sensitive people or can become poisonous if you are exposed to enough of them.

Children under five years old are at the greatest risk of poisoning, and poisoning is one of the top three reasons why children in this age group are seen at hospital emergency departments or are admitted to hospital. Medications are the most common cause of childhood poisonings and nearly all childhood poisonings take place at home.

So preventing poisonings at home is a very important way of avoiding injury in children.

Be aware that many poisonings occur when poisons are outside their normal secure storage area, e.g. just after purchase when being used, when moving to a new house or when visiting other people’s homes (Queensland Poisons Information Centre)

  • Put medications away immediately after use and after purchasing
  • Securely store medications out of sight and reach of children
  • If storing medication in the fridge you could use a lockable box that requires a code to get access

Safe Sleeping

I am an 80’s baby and years ago it was common practice to have cot bumpers, blankets, toys and small pillows in the cot. My one-year-olds cot must look very bare in comparison but it is safe, and the guidelines tell us that there shouldn’t be anything in the cot accept for our baby and safe sleeping attire such as a properly fitting sleeping bag.

Safe sleeping is important in our house even though our children are one and four fatal sleeping accidents can still occur.

Also, a reminder to always place our children to sleep on their back to sleep is important and ensuring their sleep environment is free from any hazards.

Tipping furniture and Televisions

This is a topic that wasn’t really discussed when I was a child. In more recent years I have seen retailers taking a more responsible approach therefore people are having a discussion about furniture and televisions possibly falling on children if they are unsecured. Just yesterday I received an e-mail from Amart because we recently bought some furniture there and one of the items was a tall set of drawers.

The e-mail outlined the anchoring requirements for the set of drawers. It was fantastic to see such a proactive approach to help prevent a piece of their furniture potentially tipping over and crushing a child if a child climbed onto that furniture.

This is a great reminder to do an audit of the furniture and televisions in your home for their potential to tip over onto a child.

If it’s not needed, then remove it.

If it must remain then adequately anchor it!

This is a way to reduce the risk of a tip over that may have life-changing consequences.

Because my Mum will be taking care of our girls we agreed it would be best for her to anchor all her furniture, especially because our one year old loves to climb.

Childhood Passenger Safety

Inevitably Mum will be picking up the girls from daycare and Kindergarten from time to time so talking about child restraints and passenger safety is a really important way of preventing unintentional injuries when our children are in her vehicle. Just knowing how to buckle the girls in safely to their child restraints isn’t enough, there needs to be a holistic approach to the vehicle environment and certain checks that are a must before every trip. Safe Start Australia has a daily checklist of things to check so Mum can keep this in her glove box for reference. The aim is to minimize the risk as much as possible and carry out correct maintenance and safety checks regularly.

The benefit of Grandparents and other secondary carers attending the program:

When Grandparents become Grandparents, or Aunts and Uncles become carers it might have been a long time since infants and young children have been in the family, therefore, it could be invaluable to refresh their knowledge on current recommendations. Spending time learning how to manage the risk and preventing injuries in everyday life could reduce some of the stress that secondary carers might be feeling. Unintentional injuries are highly preventable and Safe Start Australia believes parents and carers do the best they can with the information they have. By knowing what to look for to reduce the risk of an intentional injury occurring can build confidence in making a decision about what to do to keep your children safe.

For those that are interested in the program, including grandparents and secondary carers – Safe start, safe home, safe products, safe sleep and safe transport cover a wide array of injury prevention information for children in the safe start program developed by Nicolle Sharkey who, prior to having children, worked as a safety manager and managing risk in high risk environments was part of everyday life. Our program is evidence based and is designed to support parents and carers and help prevent serious injuries occurring to infants and young children.

Written by Nicolle Sharkey Founder of Safe Start Australia.

Written by Nicolle Sharkey Founder of Safe Start Australia.

I write:

  • From Research
  • From Experience
  • From the Heart

Where to now?

To attend one of our education sessions please go to the dates and locations page and we hope to see you soon.