Parenting: What's changed?

Attention all grandparents! Certain parenting techniques may have changed. Here is a quick rundown of some of the changes.

Grandparenting, how hard can it be? After all you raised your own kids years ago.

However, it’s likely that your kids will parent differently to you.

Recent research and insight into parenting shows it looks a bit different from a few decades ago. Here are some new things you may have to consider.


Food allergies appear to be on the rise with roughly 1 in 20 Australian children currently diagnosed with a food allergy.

In yesteryear it was thought that reducing children’s exposure to potential allergens would keep them protected.

However now allergy experts suggest the opposite is true and there is no need to delay the introduction of potentially allergenic foods (such as peanuts and eggs), to help prevent the development of a food allergy. In general there is no need to avoid giving foods that may cause allergies to young children.

For more information on food allergies in kids click here.


Many mothers will have structured nap-times and routines and if you didn’t parent this way, it may seem rigid. 

Another change in baby sleeping is that now it’s proven that the safest way for a baby to sleep is on their back, not on their tummy or side. For more safe sleeping tips click here.  

Also, make sure their baby’s face is always uncovered and there are no fluffy toys, pillows or blankets close by.
Baby lying in cot


The biggest shift in discipline is about smacking and it’s probably advisable to leave decisions around disciplining children up to parents. 

“Children aren’t small adults,” says Dr James Kirby, clinical psychologist and researcher at University of Queensland. “We’ve learned that children are children and they don’t have the same cognitive abilities as adults. Yet we treat them like they're adults, and as a result thoughts such as ‘they’re misbehaving on purpose’ or ‘they just need a good spanking’ occurred.”

Most parents don’t smack their children anymore, preferring instead to adopt new disciplinary methods such as redirecting the child’s attention, time outs, and focusing and rewarding positive behavior.  


There are strict safety guidelines for age appropriate toys as many toys present safety hazards in the wrong hands. Potential problems may be choking, suffocating, or swallowing. For example button batteries in electronic toys, if swallowed, can cause massive internal damage and even death.

When buying toys, check the packaging as they are often marked with the correct age for play.   
Boy playing with blocks

Grandparents as childcare

The rising cost of living, combined with parents going back to work means almost one in three Australian children are now receiving childcare from their grandparents. 

This provides great opportunities for forging strong bonds however, grandparents may feel entitled to offer unsolicited parenting advice; the number one issue that causes conflict for parents and grandparents, according to Dr Kirby.

“If grandparents give a lot of unsolicited parenting advice, parents may hold back from asking grandparents from providing care  which is detrimental to everyone,” he says.  

“The grandparents number one role is the support role. There will be times when they want to say things, they’re coming from a helpful place, but it helps to be responsive rather than reactive.” 

Communication is the key to any relationship, and the parent/grandparent relationship is no different. 

“Try to have conversations with the parents around times where they would be happy for you to just step in, or times when they’d prefer you left them to run the show,” Dr Kirby concludes.
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