When Flo Rosen became a grandmother earlier this summer, she couldn't wait to meet her first grandchild. Little did she know, the two of them would soon become unexpected social media stars.
A video of Rosen reacting to her grandson Trent rolling over during his first tummy time experience quickly went viral and has now received nearly 6 million TikTok views since it was shared on July 1.
"Trent was 8 days old and I was showing my son and daughter-in-law … demonstrating the positioning to encourage tummy time," Rosen recalled to "Good Morning America." "I put Trent down on his tummy and he looked at me and rolled over. I was absolutely astounded."
Rosen, a retired pediatrician, said Trent's behavior was shocking because it isn't typical behavior for newborns but after the video of her and Trent gained attention online, the 68-year-old was inspired to launch a project she had been considering for years.
"I always thought someday, when I retire, I'd love an advice column … and grandparents can ask the questions that they can't ask their kids and that they don't have access to a pediatrician to ask," Rosen explained, adding that her grandparent friends were often coming to her with questions about their grandkids.
But instead of an advice column, Rosen, who received her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania and practiced pediatrics for 42 years before retirement, took the advice of her daughter-in-law and started "Ask Bubbie" on social media, which now has a combined 240,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok.
Rosen said she has been fielding questions ever since, mostly from parents on TikTok and grandparents on Instagram, about a variety of topics.
With grandparents, Rosen said she often sees queries about why modern-day parenting has changed so much.
"There's still a huge group [of grandparents] out there, [who say] 'You turned out fine.' And a lot of the responses on the part of parents are that, 'No, we didn't turn out fine. And we want our kids to turn out better,'" Rosen said. "So, I think that really trying to educate the grandparents on why things have changed [is key] and the underlying reason is almost always safety."
As a result, a portion of Rosen's tips for both grandparents and parents focus on safety, but one she likes to encourage for new parents specifically revolves around bedtime.
"One tip is to really make sure bedtime is different, that there's something that distinguishes it," Rosen said. "Turn the lights down dim, get your baby as relaxed as you can, make sure they're dry, make sure they're fed, and ideally, put them down awake so they can learn to self-soothe and get themselves down to sleep. And then those are the best tips to have a good sleeper for the rest of their lives."
Among Ask Bubbie's top five advice videos on TikTok are clips explaining "how to burp your baby" with over 2 million views so far, and then at over 1 million views, videos on "why tummy time is important," her expert takes on a "new study on the effects of screen time" and "limiting your newborn's exposure to illness," and a "message to my fellow grandparents," which discusses how parenting in 2023 has evolved over time.
"The younger generation really turns towards something visual on social media to get educated, and TikTok and Instagram have certainly replaced the old Penelope Leach book or whatever book somebody in my generation used," Rosen said, reflecting on the popularity of her videos. "The other thing is that I think grandparents really desperately have a need to have their questions answered, because so many things have changed."
Rosen said she hopes to foster a trustworthy community online for both grandparents looking for up-to-date answers about modern-day parenting and parents who feel they don't have a village of family and friends who can support them while they're raising their kids.
"I think this parenting generation is looking to social media for answers, not to books, and there aren't a whole lot of responsible, reliable, correct sources for them. So, I think that if I can provide that, then I'm really happy I'm doing that in my retirement," Rosen said.