Bringing A New Baby Home! Ten Ways Grandparents Can Help
I made cupcakes for the nurses for Callister’s first day of life. The pandemic will make that impossible when my granddaughter is born next month.
My daughter will soon be giving birth to her second child, and I couldn’t be happier! Unlike the first time around, I won’t be anxiously waiting and worrying in the hospital. The pandemic has put a stop to nervous grandparents pacing the waiting room. So, what is the job of a grandparent? It depends on several factors, but mostly it comes down to asking the new parents what they want and trying your best to fulfill their needs. Even though it’s been thirty-two years since I had a new baby, I can still remember what helped me the most. What I wish someone had done to ease the transition home with a new baby is lodged more permanently in my memory. These are my top ten reminders as I count down the days (15!!) until my granddaughter’s arrival.
Ask them what they need. Some couples want a few days alone to bond as a family; others may ask for help immediately. Because of the Coronavirus, they may not want anyone in the house, and you might have to be satisfied with Facetime or video calls. Listen to them and don’t intrude until they are ready, even though your arms are aching to hold your new grandbaby! Also, be willing to do some of the drudgery work, like rolling up your sleeves and washing dishes or doing some loads of laundry, but ask rather than assume. At one point, I would have paid someone a thousand dollars to watch both the babies so I could sleep for an hour!
If there are other kids in the family, offer to entertain them during the first couple weeks. The parents are probably exhausted taking care of the newborn, and the older kids would benefit from some undivided attention from grandparents. Be sensitive to the fact the older child may be feeling a bit displaced from the throne. This new screaming, wrinkled creature is hogging all the attention; the older kids might love to have grandparents sweep in and remind them they are still adorable and loved.
Providing some meals is a great gift for the family, and grandmothers are stereotypically great cooks. Count me out on this one. My daughter and son-in-law are much better cooks than me and have already prepared meals and stuck them in the freezer. What I can provide are some baked goodies for the family. I made chocolate-peanut butter lactation protein balls for my daughter after her first child was born. She said they were the perfect snack to keep her energized as she nursed. If you’re like me and not known for your cooking, you could consider bringing take-out from their favorite restaurant.
4. Opinions and Advice
The best thing you can do with your unsolicited advice and opinions is to keep them to yourself. This is a tough one, isn’t it? Nothing will make you an unwanted guest quicker than being a bossy know-it-all. We had our time as new parents, this is theirs, and unless you observe something potentially harmful to the baby, stay out of it. I’m fortunate that I have a terrible memory, so I have no advice to offer. I know we got through those first few years, but the details of baby-raising were left behind, along with my lack of wrinkles and gray hair. I also know that my daughter and son-in-law have proven to be pretty great parents who don’t need advice!
5. Respect their rules
Times have changed, and so has the information since we raised kids. Yes, I know thirty years ago, we put our babies to sleep on their stomachs, but now the medical advice says to lay them on their backs when they sleep. Pacifiers are now a good thing, as they have proven to reduce the risk of SIDS. Before our first grandchild was born, my daughter asked us to get a TDAP. As much as I hate needles, I did it for her and the baby. I’m going in this week to get my flu shot at my daughter’s request. I only hope they have a lollipop waiting for me if I’m a brave girl!
6. Kind Words
Sometimes, parents of newborns may feel unsure of themselves, especially with their first baby. You must keep the negative commentary to yourself, but DO offer positive feedback. We all need a little figurative pat on the back, and kind words can provide a much-needed boost to a parent who is struggling to figure out their new role.
7. Gushing, oohs, and ahhs
Gushing over the new baby is one of the critical roles for grandparents. Even if that baby is not objectively the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, you need to pretend like it is. Chances are you will honestly believe it if your “grandparent goggles” are properly adjusted. Parents love to hear praises of their new baby.
8. The Ex
We shouldn’t have to talk about this, but apparently we do. Once you’ve had children together, divorce cannot end the bond you have with your ex. Now you share another generation, your grandchildren. For the sake of your adult children and grandchildren, act like civilized people. You don’t have to be best friends, but smile and be polite. There will be years of birthday parties, ball games, and graduations with your grandchildren, so bury the hatchet and make the best of it! News flash – it’s not all about you!
9. Social Media
Do not post anything about the baby unless you have permission! I know you’re anxious to spread the news and share the photos of the cutest baby ever, but never do it without the parents’ permission. Some parents are strict and allow no pictures of their children on social media. Fortunately, since I write a weekly blog about grandparents and grandchildren, my daughter and son-in-law have given me carte blanche, trusting I will use common sense.
Your primary job as a grandparent is to love your grandbaby with unconditional love. Every child deserves to have at least one person in their life who thinks they are the best thing under the sun. A grandparent has the luxury of loving their grandchildren with an irrational, ridiculous, over-the-top kind of love. We get to be the warm lap, the enthusiastic playmate, the giver of too many cookies, and the recipient of sticky hugs and kisses. It’s the job of a lifetime!
Being a grandparent is the frosting on the cupcake of life!