The day you find out you are going to be a first time grandparent is brilliantly exciting and could be reminiscent of the day you found out you were going to be a parent for the first time. You have been looking forward to this ever since you heard the announcement of your new grandchild. Whether you’re going to be a “Nana”, “Grandpa”, “Grandma”, “Grandad”, “Grammy” or “Pops” you will still want to think about how you need to prepare for the arrival of your first grandchild. From making sure you have the essential pieces of baby gear ready for your first day of babysitting, to ensuring you don’t hog the baby or spoil them beyond their parents’ limits. Though you may think you remember everything you need to know about parenting and caring for a newborn from the day your own child was born, it can never hurt to update yourself on things like new child safety guidelines and when babies can start eating solid foods etc. Throughout our ultimate guide for new grandparents, we provide you with the information you need so that you can be sure you are ready for the arrival of your grandbaby.
What Do First Time Grandparents Need to Know?In the world we live in today, things change as often and as quickly as the weather, so here are a few points new grandparents should note as they may have changed since you had your own children.
- Car Seats Are Mandatory: It has been illegal to take a baby in a car without a fitted car seat since 1985, almost 4 decades ago! It is very possible that when your baby was born you took them home on your lap in the car! These days, we keep babies in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2. This is because studies show a child is 75% less likely to be badly injured in a car accident if they are rear-facing. Remember: Car seats are heavy! Even without the baby in the car seat, these vital but cumbersome pieces of baby equipment can weigh around 10kg. Having a Snugglebundl lift and lay transfer blanket eliminates the need to take the car seat in and out of the car, as you can use it to lift your grandchild easily, without hurting your back and without waking them. Perfect for getting snoozing babies out of car seats and into their prams.
- Breast is Best: In the 1970s, only 10% of mothers opted for breastfeeding over bottle feeding. This has increased greatly since then, with 77% of mothers choosing to breastfeed their baby. Of course, sometimes there are reasons why a mother may not be able to breastfeed or may choose not to breastfeed, so mums shouldn’t beat themselves up if this method of feeding isn’t possible.
- Should You Childproof Your House? YES!: When your child was born, childproofing may have been basically unheard of, but these days, it is important to think very carefully about what items in your house could put your grandchild in danger when they eventually start crawling (this comes around faster than you think!). Fix televisions to their surface so they don’t topple over, cover plug sockets, add child locks onto cabinets, cover doorknobs, move breakable objects and put baby gates on stairs. There is plenty of equipment you can purchase to prevent accidents.
- Babies Don’t Eat Solids Until 6 Months: In the 1970s, it was quite common for babies to start eating solid foods at just one month old. Now the NHS suggests waiting until babies are 6 months before introducing solids into their diet. This will mean they are able to develop enough to be able to cope with solid foods. Breast milk (or formula if you are not breastfeeding) provides the energy and nutrients your baby needs until they are around 6 months old.
- Babies Should Be Put to Sleep on Their Back: Since 1994, it has been advocated that babies should always sleep on their backs to reduce the chances of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Putting a baby down to sleep on their back keeps their airways open and helps them to avoid getting their face stuck to the mattress which causes a suffocation risk.
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The Dos and Don’ts for First Time GrandparentsYou may already be planning the first day you get your grandchild to yourself so you can implement your Super-Nana or Super-Grandpa skills, but it can’t hurt to have a think about where the boundaries are. It’s easy for first time grandparents to forget that this is your grandchild, not your own child. Be Super-Grandparent rather than Super-Parent. Below we have listed some of the dos and don’ts for new grandparents:
- DO Educate Yourself on the Newest Baby Safety Measures: The list we wrote above is not even close to exhaustive, so make sure you do your own research.
- DON’T Panic: Though exciting, the arrival of a new baby can come with an array of anxieties, especially for the parents. Instead of getting yourself into a panic on their behalf, be a pillar of support and reassurance for your expecting child and see if you can learn to share the concerns you have in a way that will help to guide them, rather than fill them with more worry.
- DO Show Your Love for Your Grandchild and Express It: Don’t be afraid to show your affection. You want to have a close relationship with your grandbabies. Just make sure you show support to the parents in combination with adoration for the new baby.
- DON’T Hog the Baby or Tire Out Mum: You’re in the danger zone if straight after your grandchild is born you refuse to let anyone else hold them at the hospital or let their tired mother rest after giving birth because you want to chat about christenings, baby socks or why the baby’s name is so modern. Give both parents, but especially Mum, the space to adjust to parenthood in their own time.
- DO Offer to Help: For parents of newborns, doing things like shopping, general errands and housework can feel like the last thing on the list, but they still need doing. Offer to do this for them if you can and they are likely to be incredibly grateful. Offering to babysit is also a good way to offer the parents some relief.
- DON’T Be Overbearing: Though caring for a newborn baby is tiring and sometimes frustrating, that precious time between birth and the baby’s first months contain some of the most important and beautiful bonding moments for the family as a whole. Of course, you are excited to be a new grandparent, but be sure to give the budding family some room and time to themselves as well as offering to help with anything they need.
- DO Offer Advice (Carefully!): You’ve been on this rollercoaster before, but this is your child’s first baby, so, sure, you can offer some helpful advice to help them along the way. Whether it be good ways to ease postpartum symptoms or an incredible baby burping trick, pass it on, just don’t be offended if they don’t take your advice.
- DON’T Criticise: Sharing helpful tips is fine, but the line between being helpful and being critical is easy to blur. New, sleep-deprived parents might not be very receptive to criticism and might prefer it if you stick to being helpful in other ways. They may be new at this, but you need to trust that their parenting methods might just be different, not worse than your own.
- DON’T Go Crazy on Baby Gear and Gadgets: It is easy to get carried away when you know the little one is coming, particularly with the excitement of pregnancy. It is lovely to buy the parents gear you think they might need, but make sure you check with them to make sure they don’t have the items already, otherwise you could have wasted a lot of money or spend a lot of time returning things.
- DO Prepare: There is a difference between splurging on Babygro’s in every colour and making sure you have the right equipment for when you eventually babysit your new grandbaby. Read the list below to get a good idea of things you might want to purchase.
So, What Do First Time Grandparents Need?When your new grandbaby arrives, you want to be prepared and have everything ready before you go to meet them for the first time. Taking these things to the hospital or to the parents' home will certainly get you some bonus points! Here are some of the tings new grandparents might want to get:
- Congratulations Card: You can’t go amiss with a lovely greetings card to say congratulations and pass on your best wishes, with a heartfelt message inside.
- A Gift for the New Baby: A special soft toy, a blanket (double points if it is a Snugglebundl!), a board book, a blank photo album to fill with memories, clothes, hats or socks. (Read further on in the blog to get some more gift ideas for the baby!).
- Gifts for Mum: Flowers, lavender oil to reduce stress, herbal tea, bath salts, comfy loungewear or anything that will help Mum relax (plus some babysitting vouchers from you will certainly be handy for the future!).
- Something for the Parents to do in the Hospital: Some parents can take their babies home straight away, but others could be stuck in the hospital for a few days. Things like board games, books/magazines and tasty treats and snacks that you can take with you on visits to the hospital will surely be appreciated!
- Meals: Usually, the last thing new parents want to do is cook! Taking them some nice quality ready meals, takeaway vouchers or some homecooked dishes will take some stress off of the first few days of parenthood. Maybe even take these to their house so they can come home to a prepared meal.
- A Snugglebundl: The Snugglebundl is a priceless gift for new parents. It works a little bit like a hammock with handles, allowing you to lift a baby up without disturbing their sleep – this is just one of the amazing benefits this lift-and-lay blanket provides. It also makes a great playmat, breastfeeding cover if Mum ever wants to nurse discreetly and can be used to rock baby to sleep, which is also helpful for soothing colic and reflux.
- A Hamper Full of All of the Above!
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What Does a New Grandparent Need at Their House and On-the-Go?Babies need a lot of gear and though you may be able to borrow a lot of this from the parents when you babysit, it could be good to get your own essentials so that if you’re asked for nanny duties without warning you will be prepared every time! Below we have created a list of items first time grandparents may need:
- Lightweight Car Seat: As we mentioned above, car seats are heavy and awkward to lug around so try to find a light one. However, even lightweight car seats can be still be quite hefty, so to save your back from continuous lifting, invest in a Snugglebundl!
- A Snugglebundl: A Snugglebundl is perfect for new grandparents! The Snugglebundl allows you to pick up your grandchild but leave the car seat where it belongs (in the car!) with the great benefit of not waking them up when they inevitably fall asleep in their car seat. Not only is the Snugglebundl great for when you are travelling with baby, but for around the house as well! Constantly stooping to lift your grandbaby can put a huge strain on your back and hips. With a Snugglebundl, it is so much easier to lift your grandbaby with full head support, but without awkward bending, saving you from backache! Having a Snugglebundl also negates the need for a regular baby blanket, as you can use the ties on the side of the Snugglebundl and use it as a snuggly nap wrap!
- Lightweight Pushchair: When choosing a pushchair for grandparents you mainly want to consider its weight and also how easy it is to use. Search for one that doesn’t weigh a ton but is also easy to fold up and one that can be used over all sorts of terrain such as pebbles, edges of pavements, uneven bricks and grass.
- Somewhere for Baby to Sleep: The idea of buying a luxurious wooden crib may seem attractive, but realistically you will end up resenting the bulky sight of it if you only look after your grandchild once a week! Having a travel cot or bassinet that you can easily fold up when you don’t need it would be the best option. This way you are prepared for the babies visit to grandparents' house.
- Changing Bag: Whether you are at home or on the go, having a changing bag filled with all of the essentials will be a saving grace! Fill this bag with nappies (if you are going out, having a plastic bag to put dirty nappies in is also a good idea), baby wipes, baby lotion, nappy rash cream, a compact changing mat and a change of clothes in case of nappy explosion (it will often happen when you least expect it!).
- Formula or Bottled Breast Milk: No one wants a hungry baby! Having formula (find some that the parents will approve of!) and/or expressed and bottled breast milk is vital for a day of babysitting. Make sure you have more than enough in case baby is especially hungry that day!
- Somewhere to Bathe Baby: Babies under 6 months (and sometimes 12 months) of age won’t have independent head and neck control, meaning they need support to keep their head above water in the bath. Baby baths are like small baths with a bum bump that stops baby sliding in the water. Some baby baths also have head and back supports for extra comfort. Buying one of these makes bath time less stressful for you and for baby.
- Baby Bouncer or Swing: Having somewhere for baby to sit so you can have your hands free to do daily tasks is super handy. Plus, babies love them!
- Clothes: Make sure you have a few sets of different baby clothes in case of spit-up accidents and poop explosions, sleepwear if baby stays overnight, coats, hats, mittens along with bibs and socks. If you don’t want to buy full sets of brand new baby clothes, ask the parents to put together a set of baby clothes to keep at your house.
What Should New Grandparents Buy for Their First Grandchild?Buying a gift for your first grandchild can feel slightly overwhelming. There are so many options for so many styles and so many things that could be opened and put in a corner never to be used again. It might be useful to ask the parents if their nursery has a particular theme they would like gifts to fit in with – is the room full of cuddly jungle animals? Is there underwater wallpaper? Stars of the galaxy on the ceiling? Or is there a very tasteful and simple colour theme that must not be tarnished by anything too bright? It is also good to consider checking in with others who may be buying new baby gifts such as aunties, uncles, godparents and other grandparents, as you don’t want the family to be inundated with multiples of the same gift. Below are a few ideas for first time grandparents that may help!
- Memory Book: New parents will find such joy in filling a memory book with their baby’s firsts. See if you can find a scan picture of the baby to pop in the front to get the parents started.
- Something Homemade: If you have any creative talents, now is your time to show them off; and this way you can be sure the baby will have a unique keepsake to remember you by. Knitting socks and hats or embroidering blankets would be a lovely way of showing you care.
- A Newborn Photo Session: Give the parents a voucher for some professional photos of their newborn!
- Something Personalised: If crafting isn’t your area of expertise, don’t feel like you can’t get your grandbaby something distinctive! Have their name and date of birth printed on a Babygro, blanket or toy. There are endless options for personalising beautiful gifts to make them that more special.
- Something from the Parent’s Childhood: Did your child have a first blanket, toy or pair of shoes that have sentimental value that you could regift as an extra special touch?
- Something to Help Baby Sleep: One of the biggest challenges parents will face with a new baby is getting them to sleep, so a gift that will make this even slightly easier will be appreciated. Sound machines, baby-safe sleep sprays or night lights for night-time feeds are sure to be helpful. There are lots of innovative sleep aids available these days which have multiple functions to help babies get to sleep. Try out an Ewan the Dream Sheep or a SnuzCloud sleep aid!
- A Snugglebundl: Not only is the Snugglebundl a priceless gift for parents, but babies love them too! This lift and lay blanket can be transformed into a cosy nap wrap for snoozes on the go or short sleeps at home so the little one stays nice and warm. You can also use the Snugglebundl to rock baby to sleep which they absolutely love!