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Ain't Parenting Grand?

Suddenly Parents

Discovering How Things Have Changed continued...

And for the first year babies should not be given water, honey, peanut butter, or chocolate. McCoy says she advises against water because it just "fills up the baby without giving any nutrition."

There have also been some changes in the types of immunizations given to children, McCoy says.

"Babies need 20 immunizations during the first two years of life," she says. Those include older immunizations such as measles, mumps, and rubella as well as newer vaccines like chickenpox, hepatitis B, and Prevnar, which prevents infections that cause pneumonia and meningitis.

If grandparents were raising children more than 20 years ago, they may be unaware of the danger associated with the use of baby aspirin for fever, says McCoy. Giving a baby aspirin to a child with fever may cause a serious illness called Reye's syndrome. "Acetaminophen [Tylenol] is now recommended to treat fever in children," she says.

Some other home remedies are now known to be dangerous, says McCoy. For example, putting alcohol on an infant's gums to numb teething pain is "actually poisonous," she says. "One should never rub whiskey on a baby's gums."

One thing that hasn't changed with the generations is the benefits that can be derived from exposing children to both reading and music at an early age. McCoy says she encourages all her parents and grandparents to read to infants as soon as they are born. On a personal level, she also "believes that listening to classical music may actually help children learn later on."

Finally, McCoy says that grandparents who are raising grandchildren should regard their pediatricians as resources. "When in doubt ask the doctor," she says.

The AARP Grandparent Information Center can be reached at 202-434-2296. Another organization, Generations United, at 202-638-1263, also is a good source for parenting information for grandparents.

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