It seems grandparents have always offered their two cents worth and most of them would feel that offering advice is part of the privilege of becoming a grandparent.
However, while advice may be well meant and grandparents are simply be trying to be helpful or feel connected to their grandchild, some of your grandparents’ wisdom may now be outdated and even unsafe – even though they did a damn good job of raising you!
1. Putting babies to sleep on their tummies.
Not only were babies popped down on their tummies to sleep, especially if they were ‘windy’, they were placed into bed with their heads at the top end of the cot and often tucked up with a lovingly made quilt over them. It was thought that placing a baby on their backs to sleep would mean they could aspirate vomit and choke.
However, due to a wealth of research into SIDS since you were a baby, we are now advised to place sleeping babies on their backs (not sides or tummies) and ‘feet to foot’ – placing baby at the bottom of the cot so she can’t wriggle down beneath the blankets; no quilts or doonas to prevent overheating; no hats when sleeping and it’s important to maintain a smoke free environment during pregnancy as well as around babies and children.
Although placing babies on their backs to sleep has been advised for several years, new research funded by the charity River’s Gift is showing that some babies may be especially vulnerable if placed on their tummies to sleep. International research involving the University of Adelaide has uncovered a developmental abnormality in babies – especially in premature babies and in boys – that for the first time has been directly linked to cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Researchers believe this abnormality in the brain’s control of head and neck movement, breathing, heartbeat and the body’s responses to deprivation of oxygen supply, could be the reason why some babies sleeping on their front are more at risk of SIDS.
2. Strict feeding routines.
In your grandparents’ day, they were most likely advised to follow a strict four hourly feeding routine. I have heard stories of heartbreak as grandmothers share their experiences of waiting outside the door of a crying baby, desperately watching the clock until it was time to feed their baby – of course, some would have broken these ‘rules’ but with trepidation that they would ‘spoil’ their baby (whatever that meant).