Pediatricians love getting questions from grandparents (it means they’re involved and supportive, which is good for the whole family), and we especially appreciate questions about how Grandma or Granddad can help keep their cute little grand-bumpkins healthy. One of the simplest things a new grandparent can do for their newborn grandchild is to help with “cocooning” the infant who is too young to have vaccines. That means making sure that you, the grandparent, has had your annual flu vaccine, as well as a whooping cough booster (a one-time shot that is combined with a tetanus and diphtheria vaccine).
Of course, anything you can do to support the new parents will help the new little one thrive, so providing a hot meal, holding the baby while mom naps in the afternoon, or helping with laundry or errands are usually welcome favors. Entertaining an older sibling or giving them some special one-on-one attention is another great way for grandparents to play an important role. Safety at grandparents’ homes is an issue that needs addressing, however. Before you have the grandkids over, please make sure all of your medicines and houseplants are out of reach. Grandchildren of smokers will stay much healthier if they are not exposed to second or third hand smoke in the home or car, so the second best thing to quitting is to avoid smoking in the house or the car. Other items on a grandparent’s check list should include:
- Toys bought for children under three should be larger than the end of a paper towel tube, to prevent accidental choking.
- Old cribs should be checked for lead paint and for finials that could catch on clothing when the baby inevitably tries to climb out.
- Crib mattress should fit tightly to avoid entrapment and suffocation.
- Stairs (when toddlers are around) should have safety gates.
By: Helen Bertrand, MD, a Roper St. Francis Physician Partner and a pediatrician at Stono Pediatrics