MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS — A grandparent.
Its a stage in life every parent hopes to experience.
When my daughter and son-in-law told us they were expecting a baby, my husband and I were thrilled.
Having raised a strong-willed daughter and a spirited son, I knew how to be a mom.
Those infant and toddler stages, though, were more than 30 years ago.
New moms and dads now have playpens that pack up and go, intercoms and wipe warmers.
What else has changed since I diapered, transported and raised my two?
That was evident after my husband and I attended Grandparenting, a class Southwest General Health Center offers through its Family Life programs.
“The number of grandparents who are caregivers for their grandchildren has grown,” said Sandy Martin, a family life instructor who teaches childbirth and grandparents classes at Southwest. “Many are unaware of new safety recommendations and other changes that have occurred since we were parents.”
Martin led a class of 12 grandparents-to-be through a three-hour class.
“I have the advantage of hearing your kids tell me what I should tell you about being a grandparent,” she said. “But there are many other things we all need to know. I went to five seminars (in 2012) for new updates. That is how things are changing.”
Babies should sleep on their back, not on their stomach or side. It is easier for babies to spit and swallow safely when on their backs. The crib, which must have slats that are closer together than those used years ago, should have a firm mattress with a fitted sheet. No pillows, blankets, bumper pads or toys should be inside the crib with the baby. One-piece sleepers or a sleep sack are the preferred clothing for resting infants.
“These are safe sleeping practices,” Martin said. “These are ways to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and sleep-related deaths.”
Martin said she does not recommend baby monitors because they give the caregiver a “false sense of security.”
Since infants now sleep on their backs, “tummy time” is a supervised activity to help strengthen the neck and upper back muscles. Parents, and grandparents, can offer this on their laps or the floor that is clear of objects.
Martin told the class about new car seat laws. Part of that includes babies and young children required by Ohio law to be in child safety seats until they are at least 4 years old and weigh more than 40 pounds. Infants must be in safety seats facing the back. There are also requirements when turning them around and using booster seats at various ages and weights. Car seats now have expiration dates. Children should ride in the back seat of the car until they are at least 13 years old as a safety precaution.
“Never buy a car seat at a garage sale or second-hand store,” Martin said. “You dont know if that seat was in an accident.”
Martin discussed the various stages of growth, introducing solids, postpartum issues, maintaining a safe house for grandchildren, and assisting the new mom or dad in ways that are helpful.
She explained that the role of grandparents includes being a mentor, a confidant, nurturer, wizard, family historian, a role model and others. She also encouraged everyone to take a CPR class, since practices have changed in that area, as well.
Martin explained to us that we were the foundation of our children. They want to be that foundation for their own family now.
“The more you allow them to build that base, they will broaden that base,” she said. “Trust yourself. Trust your instincts.”
Maryann Haller, the childrens librarian at Middleburg Heights branch library, spoke about early literacy what children know about reading and writing before they learn those skills.
“Talk with them. Tell them what you are doing. Ask them lots of questions. Stretch their vocabulary. Sing to them. Look for books with clear and simple pictures when they are young,” Haller said. “Reading together, shared reading, is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. It makes such a difference.”
Lifelong learning is an educational experience I have welcomed over the years.
With this knowledge, and a prayer or two tossed in for good measure, I am ready to be a grandparent sometime within the next two weeks.
The next Grandparenting class is 6:30-9:30 p.m. April 4 at Southwest. To register, or for more details, call 440-816-8036.
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