Unique Course Readies New Grandparents for Childcare Role

Grandparents taking care of their infant grandchild

When it comes to childbirth education, South Shore Health has all the bases covered for expectant parents.

Whether preparing for labor and birth, breastfeeding support, or caring for your newborn in the early weeks of life, there are a wide array of courses to help guide first-time moms and dads. 

Now there’s a class specially designed for grandparents to be. 

Launched last spring, Virtual Understanding Grandparenting is a refresher course for grandparents on caring for a new baby. 

The two-hour online class focuses on changes in birth, baby care, safety measures and health practices that have taken place since they had their babies. 

The course also highlights the ways grandparents can support their children as they navigate being new parents. 

So many grandparents are providing childcare for their grandchildren these days, said Michele O’Hara, Childbirth Education program manager at South Shore Health. 

“Being a grandparent and caring for babies is very different than it was back in the day,” said O’Hara. “There are different methods today.”

Terri Walsh, who welcomed her first granddaughter, Aubrey last month, can attest to that.  

“I was surprised how much has changed,” she said. “I learned way more than I thought I would.” 

Walsh said her daughter, Kelsey a nurse practitioner at South Shore Hospital, told her about the class and she thought it would be a good way to prepare for her upcoming childcare role – watching Aubrey one or two days per week.

A grandmother holding her infant grandchild

Understanding Grandparenting touches on a broad range of baby care topics, O’Hara said, including  basics on bottle and breastfeeding, breast milk storage and how to support new moms with their infant feeding choices.  

The course also focuses on sleeping patterns and safe positioning for infants, which is on their back with nothing in the crib (no wedges, bumpers or blankets) – another change from her early parenting days, Walsh said. 

In addition to newborn care, the course provides valuable health and safety tips Walsh said, including reminders for grandparents to get vaccinated for shingles, pertussis and other viruses before they take on a childcare role. 

Another safety recommendation Walsh took away from the class, was to label the baby’s car seat with the parents’ and doctor’s name and phone numbers in case of a car accident. “I thought that was really good information,” she said.

Supporting new moms, making sure they are getting rest and watching for concerning postpartum symptoms is another important part of the class discussion, O’Hara noted.

Offered once a month and taught by grandparents, the course has been well received, O’Hara said. 

“We’ve had very positive feedback,” she said. “There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of reminiscing and appreciation for the class.”

Walsh said she found the course very helpful, well organized and presented. 

“There was so much great information,” she said.  “I’d definitely recommend this for new grandparents who will be caring for their grandchildren.”

Michele A. O’Hara, DNP, RN, NE-BC, CLC is nurse manager of the Mother Infant Unit, Lactation Department and Childbirth Education Program at South Shore Health.  Learn more about our childbirth education classes and support groups.

Childbirth Education Programs and Support Groups 

Preparing for Labor & Parenthood Education Series

Childbirth Preparation Class

Ready for Breastfeeding

Newborn Essentials

Lactation Support Group

New Beginnings: A Group for New Moms

Infant/Child CPR and Safety

Understanding Grandparenting