No matter how much the world changes, babies stay the same. They eat a lot, they poop a lot, and they sleep, well, not a whole lot. But despite this, many of the basic ways we care for babies have changed over the past 20 to 30 years. That’s all thanks to new science and research surrounding baby development. 

So for all the expecting new grandparents out there, we wanted to outline exactly what some of those changes are and why, so you can feel confident caring for your new grandchild (and don’t worry, soaking in new baby snuggles is still safe and highly recommended!). 

1. Babies are placed on their backs to sleep. 

When your adult children were young, the recommendation to place babies on their stomachs to sleep largely came from this idea that babies might choke on their own spit up if left on their back. Luckily, that has been disproven, and more than that, putting babies on their backs to sleep has been shown to drastically reduce the instances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). So when caring for your new grandchild, please remember to always place baby on their back to sleep for naps & nighttime sleep, whether in their crib or bassinet.

2. Cribs are completely empty. 

This is another best practice to help reduce the risk of SIDS and keep your new grandchild safe. Cribs should contain a firm crib mattress with a tightly fitted sheet and nothing else. That means no blankets, no pillows, no bumpers, and no stuffed animals. 

3. Babies need “tummy time.”

Because babies now sleep exclusively on their backs for the first few months of life, they need tummy time (or supervised time in which they are awake on their stomachs) every day. This helps prevent flat spots from developing, but also helps them strengthen their neck muscles, gain head control, and just enjoy the world from a different perspective.

4. Babies and young children should not wear coats in the car seat. 

Yup, your new grandchild should not wear a coat or any bulky clothing while in their car seat, even in the winter. If you are worried about their comfort, you can always put a coat or a blanket over their buckled harness. 

5. No more rice cereals in bottles. 

Though this was often a trick to get babies to sleep longer, it has since been shown to be a choking hazard, and can actually make babies gain too much weight, too quickly. Now, there are some instances where babies still take rice cereal in a bottle (in addition to breast milk or formula) for reflux, but this is following a specific recommendation from the child’s pediatrician. 

6. Babies don’t need a bath every day. 

Newborns and young babies are especially prone to dry skin, and many lotions & oils can actually irritate their skin. So try to limit baths to 3 times a week. In between baths, you can always spot-clean dirty areas like the neck or hands with a soft, wet cloth.

And while these are some of the biggest changes to baby & child care, they are not the only ones. There are new CPR & choking safety guidelines and new philosophies for the best ways to begin solids. Luckily all these topics (and a whole lot more!) are covered in our course, Grandparent 101: The Ultimate Online Course for Baby’s First Year. It’s a crash course for the modern caregiver, taught by leading experts with clear demonstrations. You can watch now and rewatch as your grandbaby grows, so you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way through baby’s first year and beyond.