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Grandma and Grandpa: Here are the new baby rules

If you think that crib you’ve carefully stored for decades will come in handy now that you’re a grandparent, think again.

You might hear what Deborah and Paul Coleman heard from their pregnant daughter, Miriam Chang, when she checked out the cribs they’d saved: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Safety standards for cribs have changed, and older ones with drop sides aren’t considered safe anymore. That’s just one of the topics covered in the new Grandparenting 101 class that the Colemans took at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Judy Ford, an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center nurse who teaches the class, knows her subject from personal experience. As a mother and grandmother, she’s familiar with the urge to use what worked as a mom with her grandkids.

“There are so many changes since we had our children,” Ford said. “Changes that are very hard to adjust to.”

But knowing the reasons behind the changes makes them much easier to accept, Ford said. Perhaps the biggest ones involve sleep. As a mom, Ford always placed her babies on their stomachs, in a crib with pads along the edges with plenty of blankets covering them.

Now, parents follow the ABCs of infant sleep: Alone, on their back, in a crib. No crib pads or blankets allowed.

“It’s so against what I’d always done,” Ford said.

Knowing that, she not only teaches grandparents in the three-hour course the new rules of infant sleep but the reasons behind them: to reduce sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS.

Babies can stop breathing if they’re under a blanket or next to a crib pad that’s forcing them to rebreathe the air they’ve just exhaled, Ford says. Carbon dioxide builds up in their body, their brain tells them not to breathe it in and they quit breathing.

Ford also talks about car seat safety and why powdering a baby’s bottom is forbidden. And she encourages all the grandparents to make sure they’ve had a Tdap shot recently, which wards against whooping cough and is recommended to protect the grandkids.

“It’s important for someone else to tell grandparents this, someone other than their kids,” Ford says.

“There are so many changes since we had our children. Changes that are very hard to adjust to.”
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Judy Ford, Ohio State nurse (and grandmother)

Paul Coleman said what surprised him most in the three-hour class was learning to place the baby on its back in the crib with nothing else.

The Colemans have four other grandchildren, but their fifth — William Hayes Chang — is the first to live close enough to care for regularly. So they were happy to take the class when their daughter told them about it.

“We had a lot to learn,” he says. “We left the class feeling glad about what we’d learned and somewhat guilty about the things we didn’t know when we raised our own children 30 or so years ago. We found out how quickly things change and how important it is to get the best available and most recent information.”

Want to sign up for Grandparenting 101? Follow this link to register online

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