Grandparents play an important and irreplaceable role in their grandchildren’s lives. The bonding experience is one of the most rewarding in life and it starts early. Grandparenting classes can help.
“Grandparents often help care for their grandchildren when they are very young and can benefit from knowing what to expect and how to prepare for caring for a newborn or infant who is close to their heart,” says Megan Craig, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Clinic Santee.
Grandparenting classes cover the latest information on baby care, including safe sleep practices, vaccinations, car seat safety and infant feeding. Grandparenting classes are available at Scripps and other health organizations.
Grandparenting may seem familiar to new grandparents who remember raising their own children. But it’s important to remember also that times change. Many new grandparents today are Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. What may have been standard parenting when they were caring for young children may no longer be the case.
Grandparenting classes cover some of the most important changes in baby caring. A recent Scripps “Grandparent Today” participant describes it this way: “It’s been a while since my children were infants and it’s amazing to see the changes of many things today versus then.”
Decades ago, it was considered safe for babies to sleep on their stomachs so that they would not choke if they spat up in their sleep. Research later showed that babies who sleep on their stomachs have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Today, stomach sleeping is not recommended. Entire campaigns have been devoted to promoting putting babies to sleep on their backs and not their stomachs or sides.
Pediatricians also recommend keeping bedding to a minimum and avoiding pillows, crib bumpers and stuffed animals to provide the safest sleep environment possible.
Baby proofing your home in general can help prevent many household accidents.
Grandparents who plan to drive around with very young grandchildren should become familiar with car seats for babies and how to properly install them.
Car seat safety laws have also changed.
In California, children under 2 years old and less than 40 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat. The age limit used to be 1. Research shows that rear-facing causes less stress on the neck if the vehicle suddenly jolts forward.
The decision to breastfeed or formula feed is a personal one though there is more evidence now to support breastfeeding as the healthiest option.
The American Academy of Pediatrics today recommends infants should be fed breast milk until they are at least 1. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants.
Water is not recommended until babies are 6 months old and starting to eat solid foods.
Baby powder used to be a staple in baby changing tables to prevent diaper rash. Pediatricians today recommend against using baby powder because inhaling it can cause respiratory problems and infections.
Other ways to prevent diaper rash are recommended, including changing diapers frequently and cleaning the skin gently during changes.
Three baths per week during baby's first year is recommended. Bathing more frequently can dry out the baby's skin.
Scripps offers free online grandparenting classes. Topics covered in Grandparenting Today include home and care safety, changes in baby care - including immunizations and swaddling - and the many positive impacts of grandparenting.
“Becoming a grandparent is one of life’s most joyous occasions,” says Dr. Craig.
“Grandparents have the chance to repeat some of the best parts of parenthood without all the responsibilities and help their own children transition into parenthood.”
You can register online for a Scripps grandparenting class or call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777)