The Essentials When Expecting Your First Grandchild
Callister’s first day in the world, my first day as a grandmother!
I have several friends who are expecting their first grandchildren in the next few months, so I thought I would lend my extensive knowledge gained from almost two years of being a grandparent. Two years qualifies me as an expert, right? When we found out we were going to be first-time grandparents, we were so over-the-moon excited that we went a little overboard. My husband and I spent our date nights cruising the baby aisles at Target and buying everything possible. We even had our sitting room redone into a nursery, complete with a fox theme. But was all that necessary? Of course not; in fact, a lot of it was barely used and is now sitting in the attic awaiting our next grandbaby. Through trial and error (no, you really don’t need twenty onesies in three-month-old size, even if they are stinking cute) we discovered what is essential if your grandchild is going to be spending a considerable amount of time hanging out at the “grands'” house.
1. Get your booster shots!
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommends that anyone having interaction with an infant under twelve months of age should have a Tdap booster at least two weeks before contact with the baby. If you were born after 1957, you may also need an MMR booster shot. I am terrified of needles, but knowing my grandchild’s well-being was involved, I put on a brave face and got my shots. Amazingly, it didn’t even hurt--just don’t look at the needle!
My husband was so excited about being a first-time grandparent he even had a smile on his face for the shot!
2. Car seat
I thought I’d snag a good deal when I saw a used car seat, but my normally frugal daughter stopped me in my tracks. She told me the car seat needed to be new because a car seat with an unknown history could possibly have been in an accident, leaving it potentially unsafe. Consumer Reports agrees with my daughter, citing possible recall notices and damage from crashes causing invisible but crucial weaknesses in the car seat. Car seats are expensive, but your grandchild’s life cannot have a price on it. Safe Kids and Tulsa Fire Department have teamed up to provide free car seat safety checks and help with installation; click here to see the schedule and for further information.
Make sure they are in a rear-facing, size-appropriate car seat and it’s secured properly in your car.
3. A safe place to sleep
We weren’t brave enough to attempt a sleepover until he was six months old, but even before that he took a lot of naps at our house so we needed a safe place for him to sleep. Like the sentimental packrat I am, I had lovingly packed away my daughter’s crib, thinking her baby could use it. It was not to be: safety regulations have rendered the thirty-year-old crib more suitable for firewood, so we bought a new crib and mattress. You can go with a full crib or a Pack ’n Play. Other things have changed also; refer back to one of my earliest grandparenting blogs for a complete update on changes. Remember all those cute bumper pads and quilts we used for our kids? They aren’t acceptable now; nothing should be placed in the sleeping area and remember, babies are now placed on their backs to sleep.
4. Childproof your house
I know, right now you’re holding this sweet little helpless newborn and you can’t imagine childproofing is necessary, but I promise, in the blink of an eye they will be into everything. We did all the normal things such as plugging the outlets and securing the cabinet doors, and we also did a major overhaul of putting all the medicines up high and in containers with sealable lids. We also frequently do a sweep of the house to make sure anything a child could swallow, such as coins, are out of reach. Batteries were all placed in a sealed container and placed on the top shelf! Whew, we’ve had to become much more organized and better housekeepers! For a more complete list of childproofing broken down by age, click on this link.
5. Diapers and wipes
This is something you’ll need in mass quantities if they are going to spend any time with you. My grandson wears cloth diapers, and although I am on board with the idea of cloth diapers, the arthritis in my hands had other ideas. I gave it a valiant try, but I gave up and he wears disposables at my house.
Cloth diapers are economic and environmentally friendly
Begin reading to your grandchild on day one; it is never too early! Even before your grandchild can understand the meaning of the words, they need to hear the rhythm of the words and learn to associate books with love and affection. You don’t need to spend money; Tulsa is lucky to have an incredible public library system that allows you to check out books absolutely free! Plus, they offer fantastic storytimes sure to enhance your grandparent-grandchild bonding time.
Nothing makes me happier than when Callister picks out a book, runs and climbs in my lap and settles in for story time!
7. Adapt to changes
If you feel rusty and want to update your knowledge, consider taking a grandparenting class at St. Francis Hospital. My husband and I attended the class before our grandson was born, and it was a great chance to refresh and learn what’s changed since our kids were babies. My husband came into our family when my kids were past the baby stage, so it was all new information for him and although a little intimidating, it was also very useful. Along with this comes the strong recommendation that you ban the phrase, “back in our day” and try very hard not to offer unsolicited advice. We had our turn, now it’s theirs.
8. Time and unconditional love
These are the two things your grandchild needs the most from you! Grandparents are a wonderful source of abundant and unconditional love. Our love for our grandchildren is limitless, and the bond that can develop between grandparents and grandchildren is incredibly valuable to both generations. Invest your time, share your love and you’ll create a strong bond that will last your lifetime and beyond. Alex Haley once said, "Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” I agree with Mr. Haley, but I’d like to add that grandchildren add their own magical stardust into the lives of their grandparents. There’s nothing better!