Barbara LeBlanc, LCSW-BACS
Put the baby to sleep on his back? What about choking/spitting up? No bumper pads in the baby bed?
Why can’t I use the baby bed in the attic? No one was ever hurt sleeping in it!
What in the world is tummy time?
No TV? Babies aren’t paying attention to that!
These and other questions were posed over the past year, at the Grandparenting 101 Classes hosted quarterly by The Parenting Center and Touro Family Birthing Center. Taking care of newborns has changed since the current crop of new grandparents were first parents. The response from the community for these classes reflects the interest and realization of grandparents that today’s babies are being born into a time when the rules have changed!
Today’s families are a product of the current times and trends. There is much more research available to parents that often contradicts the conventional wisdom about child rearing from past generations. Grandparents can best help and support their children as new parents by respecting the process as they take on this new adult role of becoming parents.
The new parents attending the Snuggles and Struggles new parent support group (The Parenting Center’s longest continuously running class – 34 years!), have provided real time tips on what they found helpful from their families in the early months. The relationships and clarity of communication with their parents and in-laws were the deciding factor in whether someone’s presence was helpful or not. The families who were most helpful were able to respect and support the new parents’ decisions by following their leads and cues on when the baby is hungry and when to put them down. As one mom in the group said, “I’m making decisions and choices all day about how to best care for my baby and feel like I really don’t know what I’m doing, but I have to figure this out! It’s a learning process.” Try to remember how stressful and confusing it was to learn to read a newborn’s signals and to realize that you are the grown up, responsible for someone else.
Today’s parents are more child-centered than any other generation. This can manifest itself in good ways and irritating ways. Parenting instruction and advice books number in the thousands on Amazon. Bloggers share their stories offering good and poor examples. The upshot is that parents are inundated with contradictory information. New parents are the target for the latest sales pitch for how to parent to ensure your baby’s acceptance in an Ivy League school. It’s difficult for young parents to sort through the amount of advice and recommendations available today. Grandparents can help by supporting their children in the process of weeding out what’s not important and what is.
Researchers have scanned the brains of normal children beginning at birth and science now supports what grandparents and educators have always known: experiences and relationships provide the most important ingredient for healthy development. Whatever the family dynamics, grandparents are ideally suited to nurture the emotional connections in the family, keeping your grandchildren grounded in family culture and relationships.
If you are an expecting or new grandparent, join The Parenting Center and Touro Family Birthing Center at the Grandparenting 101 Class to learn about all the changes in newborn care. October 26, 6-8 pm, Free Online Register at Touro Family Birthing Center http://www.touro.com/FBC-classdetails
Barbara B. LeBlanc, LCSW-BACS is the Director of The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital and grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters and eagerly awaiting one baby boy.
- The Back to Sleep Campaign has reduced the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 50%. A safe sleep environment means baby is always put to sleep on his back with not bumper pads, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals or extra bedding. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sts/Pages/default.aspx
- Baby beds today do not have sides that lower; they are fixed in place. There are also new guidelines for how the mattress fits and the width between the slats. For the latest information, see http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Guides/Kids-and-Babies/Cribs/
- Back to Sleep has been so successful, that babies today spend most of their time on their backs. Tummy Time has become the purposeful positioning of babies on their tummies to encourage development of head, neck and shoulder control. For tips on Tummy Time: https://pathways.org/growth-development/tummy-time/
- For the latest research on why young children should not be watching TV: http://www.zerotothree.org/parenting-resources/screen-sense/screen-sense_key-research-finds_final3.pdf