Raising children is as challenging as it is rewarding. Being a grandparent can be much more carefree, but it’s not without responsibility. And things have changed since you raised your kids. Following these tips and brushing up on the latest guidelines will help you feel confident in your new role.
Your daughter or daughter-in-law has decided to breastfeed. Breastfeeding offers amazing health benefits to both baby and mom, and you can play an important role. In the 1960s and 70s, breastfeeding was not as common and doctors believed formula was better than breast milk. We now know that’s not true, and breast milk contains all the nutrients babies need to grow.
Breastfeeding is a learned skill, and mom is more likely to succeed with support. In the first few weeks after baby arrives, you can help with chores or bring a meal, offering mom more time to focus on her baby and breastfeeding. Learn about the importance of breastfeeding and talk to mom about her goals. Encouraging her in this journey, offering support and simply listening can make all the difference.
Did your babies sleep on their stomachs? Guidelines for safe sleeping have changed. You should now always place infants to sleep on their back. This is proven to greatly reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) started telling families to put babies to sleep on their backs in 1992. Since then, the number of SIDS deaths in the U.S. has dropped by 38 percent.
Babies should also sleep alone, and without loose blankets, toys or bumpers, which can pose potential choking or suffocation hazards. In fact, the sale of bumper pads is banned in Maryland. Studies show crib bumpers do more harm than good.
READ MORE: Myths about infant safe sleep
Car Seat Safety
Properly installing a car seat and buckling a child correctly are critical, no matter how short the trip. The AAP says toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats until the age of two. Research shows children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they’re rear facing. Ask the parents to show you the basics and help you choose a car seat for your car if you expect to help with transport. They’ll appreciate your dedication to safety!
When you find out you’re going to be a grandparent and the little bundle of joy arrives, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftop. And today’s social media channels give you the ability to do that. Pause. Before you publically share news or photos, talk to the parents about their wishes. They may feel uncomfortable or have safety concerns about sharing photos and information about their baby on the Internet. In this age of technology, it’s important to talk about social media boundaries.
No matter how many kids you raised, remember your grandchild’s parents are now in charge. Let them experiment and grow into their new role. Supporting their decisions and offering advice when they ask for it will help you step into your new role as a grandparent with grace.