There’s nothing more exciting than becoming a new grandparent — except maybe becoming a new mom or dad. When grandchildren are first born, it’s only natural that grandma or grandpa would want to give helpful advice or pitch in with child care. And with all that experience under their belt, why not?
“Grandparents offer a dimension to a child’s life that can’t be measured. It’s one of the most special relationships in life,” says Lynn Battaglia, a perinatal educator at Sharp Grossmont Hospital who teaches a popular class called Baby Care Class for Grandparents.
“But newborn care and safety has changed through the years. This class is helpful in bringing baby skills up to speed with the latest information and what’s safe in baby care right now,” she says.
Indeed, much is different, from sleeping positions and swaddling to breastfeeding and even options for circumcision.
“The number one question I get is, ‘Why do babies have to sleep on their back now? My kids slept on their stomachs and turned out perfectly fine.’”
The answer is that much of the research about sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has been collected over the last approximately 20 years and simply wasn’t available then. But what we now know is that SIDS has been reduced by 60 percent since infants have been placed on their backs to sleep.
She adds that the most important skills taught in the class are training for infant CPR and choking prevention. “With so many grandparents caring for their grandchildren today, it makes perfect sense to be prepared for anything, including a life-threatening situation.”
In addition to a brief history of childbirth, SIDS information and CPR, participants learn the latest recommendations in diapering, burping, bathing and calming techniques, car seat safety, childproofing and sleep strategies.If you’re a grandparent, check out our helpful tips that may be different from when you took care of your children.
- Put baby to sleep on his or her back. Not only is it the fastest position for baby to get to sleep, but it also decreases the chance of SIDS.
- Nothing goes in the crib except baby. No pillows, no toys, no bumper pads, and no heavy blankets, comforters or quilts. These items could lead to suffocation.
- When babies are awake, they need periods of tummy-time throughout the day. This strengthens their core, upper body and neck, as well as helps prevent flat spots on the back of their head.
- No cow’s milk for the first year of life. Only breast milk or formula.
- To help reduce allergies, wait four to six months before introducing solid foods.
- For the first two years of life, put baby in a rear-facing car seat to maximize protection of the head, neck and spine.
- Don’t use baby powder. Baby powder contains talc, which can cause breathing trouble and lung damage for babies if they inhale the particles.
- Babies shouldn’t sleep in bed with their parents (or grandparents). Our beds tend to be a lot softer with lots of pillows, blankets and comforters that could pose a suffocation hazard.