We’re not here to tell you how to be a parent. You’ve been there, done that and no doubt bought the fundraising chocolates.

But now that you’re being promoted to ‘grandparent’ we are here to help. The fundamentals of love, nourishment and cuddles have not changed since your time as a new parent, we do now know more about areas including SIDS and safe sleeping. So those are the areas really worth getting some refresher tips on.

While you’re no longer raising a child, you do have a vital role while watching your own ‘child’ grow and develop as a parent. It may be really tempting at times to jump in and offer advice, so perhaps try and think carefully about holding back with a ‘standing offer’ of advice and help.

Don’t forget that this may be a really overwhelming time for the new parents. A few tips to maintain gentle peace and family harmony might include:

  • Respecting your child’s parenting decisions and boundaries they have set for their child, even if they are the polar opposite of what you believe and were taught
  • If the parents have requested a set nap or bed time, work towards achieving that when you are caring for your grandchild
  • Listen to the parents, they are in tune with their baby and knows its needs the best
  • Ensure you know and demonstrate safe care practices for infants, so the parents can trust and rely on you and feel relaxed when you are in charge of their precious little bundle

We encourage all patients’ families to check whether your vaccinations are up to date. One important one to consider is for whooping cough, or pertussis. While anyone can be affected by it, the disease is especially serious for babies and can lead to death.

You will no doubt recall that becoming a parent can be overwhelming and good support is vital. If you are concerned about a new parent’s mental health, or they have told you how they are feeling, there is excellent support available. There is no stigma attached to feeling anxious or depressed as a parent. You can help focus on helping them find constructive help by encouraging them to speak with their GP or care team.

A quick recap on baby care

There’s a few things you might like to consider that you may not have thought about for many years since you had young children.

Settling

A baby cannot be spoiled by being cuddled too much. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Cuddling a baby nurtures and supports loving relationships and creates strong bonds with those caring for them. Crying is also the baby’s way of communicating. They might be hungry, need a nappy change, have stomach pain, are too hot, too cold or just need comforting.

How should I dress my grandchild?

A good rule of thumb is to think about what you’re wearing today and add an extra layer or two. If you are wearing a shirt, then consider dressing the baby in a singlet and a long sleeve top. Keep hats and beanies only for outside and never while in a car seat or sleeping. SIDS has been linked to overheating.

Remember that a baby’s hands or feet won’t give you a true guide of whether they are a comfortable temperature, as their circulation matures.

So, what has changed?

Stop and ask yourself, ‘Why do we do it this way?’ That way you won’t just rely on ‘that’s how I always did it’ but think about the facts for the safest baby care.

Baths

Warm and deep, ears can be under the water and bath can be done at any time

Dummies

Don’t “dummy dip” honey, water, alcohol or anything else. Don’t suck the dummy clean after falling and put it in the baby’s mouth

Crying and Feeding

Babies’ crying peaks at 6 weeks, which is totally normal. Frequent feeding is also quite normal. Breastfed babies can feed up to 12 times and should have 6 to 8 wet nappies within 24 hours. You may notice new parents having ‘skin to skin’ time with their baby. It promotes bonding, increases hormones to help breastmilk supply, regulates the baby’s breathing, heart rate, temperature and blood sugar levels. It’s amazing what the human body can do.

Pets

We all love our pets but it’s vital that you supervise your pets and grandchildren. Never leave them alone together. Both babies and children can move suddenly and can frighten a pet, which may result in the pet biting. Cats can also be a hazard, sleeping on or in the baby’s cot or bassinet.

The best bits

Focus on the fun. It doesn’t matter how young they are, a simple song, story, going for a walk or pulling funny faces. Your grandchild will benefit from your love and learning through fresh eyes.

The best thing you can do is support the new parents by offering to provide a meal, help so they can have a sleep, run errands or do some housework.

Despite what we sometimes think, all babies vomit and these precious bundles will grow, regardless of how much sleep they have. Don’t be alarmed if the baby experiences jaundice, it is very common.

Enjoy this very special role and don’t forget to take lots of pictures! They will change every day.

For more tips on basic baby care, head to Epworth Maternity’s Mobile Midwife to refresh on topics like changing a nappy, bathing and settling.

Author Epworth

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