Texas Living

A Guide for Expecting Grandparents

By Abi Grise Morgan 4.6.22

Finally — you’re going to be a grandparent! And you’re counting down the days to baby cuddles and coos. But before you jump into spoiling baby silly — say, going on a shopping spree or rooting through the attic for hand-me-downs — it’s a good idea to brush up on the latest infant safety recommendations.

Here is the grandparent’s guide to keeping grandchildren safe and sound while visiting.

Get the Scoop on Safe Sleep

Some generations first slept in dresser drawers — others, plush bedding. Today, the recommendation is to put baby to sleep on a firm bassinet mattress alone. No pillows, bumpers, or blankets. While baby beds look stark these days, take heart that the outlook on SIDS has never looked better. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Safe to Sleep® campaign in the 1990s, promoting the idea that parents should put baby to sleep on their back in a nearly empty crib or bassinet. Since then, the number of SIDS deaths has reduced by about 50%.

Check out their interactive baby safe room to see virtually what a safe sleep environment looks like today.

1. Play It Safe With Illnesses

Babies have immature immune systems at birth. In those first few months outside the womb, they’re highly susceptible to viruses. They’re also unable to regulate their own body temperature, making fevers even more dangerous. Do not visit a newborn if you’re feeling unwell. Additionally, always wash your hands before touching a newborn and wear an N95 mask around the baby to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2. Get Up-to-Date on Vaccinations

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone in close contact with an infant should get a flu shot and Tdap shot to protect babies from tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria. The CDC also recommends getting a COVID-19 vaccine. You can get these shots at major pharmacy retailers, such as Walgreens and CVS — and be sure to contact your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns.

3. Clear the Smoke

Babies have small, fragile lungs. You may already know that secondhand smoke can cause asthma, respiratory infections, and ear infections in infants. But did you know it can also affect their brain in ways that interfere with their ability to regulate breathing? This is why secondhand smoke increases the risk of SIDS. Even if you never smoke around a baby, be sure to shower and wash any clothes you’ve worn while smoking before holding your grandbaby.

4. Check for Recalls on Hand-Me-Downs

Before gifting any hand-me-down car seats, play swings, or cribs, do a quick search on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall database. You may be surprised at how many “baby-safe” products that were common a decade or two ago have been found to pose risks, such as flammability or traces of lead.

5. Brush Up on the Basics

Has it been decades since you last changed a dirty diaper or swaddled a baby like a burrito? Luckily, there are tons of free resources online to help jog your memory (and maybe teach you new tricks). In addition to prenatal courses, hospitals often provide free virtual courses for grandparents and caregivers on basic baby care. For example, Texas Health Resources and Medical City host classes online.

Caring for your grandbaby is an incredibly rewarding experience — especially when you know you’re doing everything you can to enrich their lives with a safe and loving environment.

Once you have baby care basics mastered, it’s never too soon to babyproof your home.

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