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Babysitting your new grandchild requires learning
Childcare Differences - Then and Now
Today more than ever, there are more mothers and fathers earning salaries which mean more and more grandparents are becoming caregivers during working hours. Childcare in the grandparents’ home can be a wonderful arrangement for both the grandparents, parents and baby. Many things have changed from years ago and creating a safe environment for your new grandchild may require new knowledge of more updated recommendations and equipment. New grandparents should learn the recommended way of doing things and using equipment that may not have been available in the past.
The Way It Used To Be
Potential Causes of SIDS
Baby bedding frequently includes of decorative bumper pads, but some can be considered unsafe. It’s important to remember that a baby should sleep free of soft bedding directly around them. Stores carry a variety of crib bedding including fitted sheets, matching bumpers, blankets and dust ruffles. Make sure the crib has a firm, flat mattress an no loose blankets. According to Heather Corley, author of a safe baby product guide for About.com, sleep experts no longer recommend putting blankets in baby cribs due to the potential for suffocation. They also warn of the risk of re-breathing exhaled air which can be trapped under loose blankets. It has been linked to SIDS cases.1 When shopping for crib bedding, or coordinating window treatments and other nursery décor, make sure it stays out of reach from the baby. As they learn to move and reach, they may become tangled in a cord. Make sure all crib mobiles are not placed within reach of a baby who may quickly learn to reach and grab.
Did You Save That Old Crib?
Grandparents will find that safety is a top priority when considering even the basic necessities of their grandchild like a bassinet or a crib. Even if you saved your own child’s crib, or acquired a used one, it may not meet current safety standards anymore. If that is the case, then it’s likely it shouldn’t be used. New cribs currently have slats designed close enough together to prevent any entrapment of the baby.
Research The Safety Of Baby Walkers
Grandparents may fondly remember the baby walker they once put their own children in to play. According to Vincent Iannelli, M.D. , baby walkers can be dangerous because their mobility “makes them a little too mobile.” As a result, babies can reach countertops or fall into a pool, bathtub, or toilet. In fact, as Dr. Iannelli explains:
“The number of injuries from baby walkers recently led the Canadian government to ban the ’sale, advertisement and importation of baby walkers in Canada.’ Although they haven’t been successful, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the US government to do the same. Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been promoting new safety standards for baby walkers that can lead to fewer injuries, especially from falls.”2
So What’s Safe?
The playful Exersaucer is a preferred play seat by many parents and is typically considered quite safe. A bouncy seat or baby swing can also be used as a safe option for putting a baby down for a few minutes. Many babies prefer to swing, while others like to rest in a bouncy chair. Find out what your baby prefers and duplicate that preference at a grandparent’s home for continued comfort while in the care of the grandparents.
Remember Driving With Your Baby on Your Lap?
There used to be a time when grandparents as young parents didn’t use child restraints on their own children. Today, things have changed. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission describes the importance of a child safety seat as follows: “In a car, always buckle your grandchild in a child safety seat, and secure it on the back seat.”3 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stresses the legalities of child safety seats. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons cites the following research on child restraints, “… they can reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants, less than 1 year old. They can reduce fatal injuries by 54 percent for toddlers who are 1 year to 4 years old.”4 Moreover, it is advised that used car seats should not be purchased because they may not meet the requirements of today’s higher standards. In fact, many older car seats are no longer considered safe.
Making Bath Time Safe For Baby
Never leave your grandchild alone in the bathtub or near any water. An infant bath seat or a bath ring for older babies is great for holding and stabilizing a baby that is soapy and often slippery. Bath seats and other helpers should never be used as replacement for proper supervision. A tub-side kneeler is another good helper at bath time. It can be useful for grandparents who may have trouble kneeling over a bathtub.
Use A Thermometer To Check Water Temperature
Today, there’s no need to check a baby’s bath water temperature by simply touching it. Inexpensive hot water bath thermometers for baby are preferred by parents and grandparents. They can be purchased in the form of floating toys and they can provide quick, accurate results when testing the temperature of the bath water. Hooded baby towels are helpful when taking the baby out of the tub. They provide warmth by covering the top of the baby’s head. When dressing a baby, place the baby on a changing table. A popular new item on the market is the wipes warmer. It’s designed to warm up disposable wipes for the baby. However, grandparents can still use a wipe the good old fashioned way and simply warm up the baby once the diaper is on. A diaper stacker can be useful for keeping a ready stock of diapers close at hand. Working parents can appreciate not having to remember a fresh stock of diapers daily in the rush of dropping the baby off. A diaper pail that is located within close reach of the changing table is a valuable necessity. Diaper changing can be quick and efficient with all the helper items in place. Baby’s clothes today can be quick and efficient too with the popularity of onesies, easy-to-wear one-piece outfits with snaps for simple diaper changing.
A baby monitor can also be useful for grandparents. This inexpensive item acts as a listening device designed to provide the caregiver with peace of mind. While you are in another room as the baby sleeps, you can hear them like you were in the same room.
Whether a baby is breastfed or formula fed is a preference determined by the parents and sometimes from the advice of doctors. Many mothers believe breastfeeding is a bonding experience between them and the baby, and that breast milk is best. For those that prefer not to breastfeed, today’s formulas meet very high standards and bonding can still be found with a bottle. When breastfeeding mothers return to work, breast pumps and other useful items can be used to store and transport breast milk. New breast milk storage and conversion kits allow women to pump milk directly into baby bottles or disposable sterile storage containers. New travel items for formula storage and feeding are also available for convenient feeding on-the-go.
As babies move to more solid food, feeding chairs and or high chairs should be safe, sturdy, and secure. Newer models of highchairs can convert to booster seats to accommodate an older toddler. Your best option for choosing a safe high chair is to pick a model that has a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association certificate on it. The JPMA voluntary safety standards are followed by most reputable high chair manufacturing companies.5
Now Relax and Enjoy the Baby
Once grandparents have taken the steps to learn as much updated safety advice as possible, the parents can feel reassured about leaving their child while they go to work and the grandparents can enjoy their time with their newest addition to the family. Gradually, as parents learn to trust their own parents' new knowledge, everyone can relax knowing that the baby is being cared for in a safe and nurturing environment.
1 Corley, Heather, About Com. http://babyproducts.about.com/mbiopage.htm
2 Iannelli, Vincent M.D., pediatrics.about.com/mbiopage.htm
3 The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, http://www.cpsc.gov/
4 The National Highway Safety Commission, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812154.pdf.
5 JPMA http://jpma.org/content/about/about-jpma
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