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Grandparent alert: Things have changed since I had my first child

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:01 am

Who would have thought that almost 35 years to the day of my giving birth to a daughter I’d be on my way to a grandparenting class in preparation of the birth of her first child?

Hers is an unplanned pregnancy after 12 years of marriage. The families are getting used to the idea and getting prepared. When a discussion about bumper pads ensued a few weeks ago, I knew I was in trouble. Seems everything I knew about babies and their needs was being challenged. When I noticed a grandparents class being offered at a local hospital (Lutheran) I inquired and eventually registered.

“You’ll be the oldest grandparent there,” quipped my youngest daughter. “No, I won’t, I replied.”

But deep down I knew I probably would be. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait for the class to confirm that all I knew about babies was true.

I arrived early and was surprised that only the instructor was present. She welcomed me, and when I inquired about others she mentioned that another person would be joining us. Well, turns out only the nurse interested in teaching the class showed up, so it was just the three of us. That was all right with me. They were experienced grandmothers, and not only did they share the professional information, they shared their experiences, too.

Some things I learned are that bumper pads are no longer recommended. Could it be because cribs now have smaller slats and better- fitting mattresses? Seems babies can scoot and get their faces pressed against the sides of the crib; don’t want that happening.

And does the infant sleep on its stomach or side? Infants should sleep on their backs, although they should get “tummy time” when they are awake. We discussed locks, latches, monitors, sleep sacks, exersaucers, boppies, bumboes, car seats — you name it, they now have it for babies.

And what new mother’s class wouldn’t include choking technique practice (on a doll), breastfeeding and diapering (no more powder and lotion)? To round it all off, I was given a tour of the childbirth suites, which now come complete with a portrait studio.

Did I learn anything? Yes, I did. Things certainly have changed in the 35 years since I had my first child. But what remains the same is that grandparents are supposed to love and spoil their grandchildren and support their children in their new role as parents.

But grandparents, remember: What happens at your house stays at your house! That’s part of the grandparent code!

Natalia Bethea is a resident of Fort Wayne.