There is nothing quite as exciting as welcoming a new grandbaby. You may be flooded by a sea of memories of your own brand new little bundles and you’ll want to be as involved in the new drama as possible. But wait. It’s been decades since you did your early parenting and things have changed. In addition, you need to take into consideration the relationship you have with your children. How can you offer support without “invading their privacy?” How can you make the first weeks and months of your grandchild’s life as smooth as possible? What do you have to offer?
You have plenty! You may not know all the current thought on newborns and you’ll need to catch up on that, but you have personal experience as a mother or father and you have that overwhelming love for your children and grandchildren. You have a lot to offer. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you give your love and support to your family in this precious time.
Be Willing, Be Available
There’s probably been a flurry of activity for your children and especially for the new Mom. There have been baby showers, preparation of a nursery, lots of uncomfortable days and nights before the big event. Now the baby is birthed and everyone is tired. Happy, yes, but exhausted. Now comes a long string of nights with interrupted sleep. Grandparents can help in day to day tasks.
Offer help with baby so that Mom can take a nap
Offer help with meals, laundry, dishes and other household tasks
Offer to run errands
Offer advice only when asked. Don’t smother the new mom and be sensitive to times when the new parents just want to “go it alone”.
When It’s Your Turn to Care for Baby
Much has changed since you had your children. Issues such as breastfeeding vs. bottle, how often to feed, how to lay baby down in bed, have all turned 180 degrees. Make the effort to do a little research on current thought on these issues. And don’t take offense if the new mom isn’t quite ready to let you care for your grandchild. Becoming a parent is an intensely personal time and many young moms want to find their way on their own. If you are asked to care for your newborn grandchild, here are some things to keep in mind.
Do swaddle the child. It offers comfort and support.
Don’t forget to burp after feeding.
Do respond to crying—offer comfort and meet needs.
Don’t microwave bottles as the milk can be unevenly heated.
Do lay baby on his or her back for sleeping.
Never shake a baby and remember to support the head.
Don’t offer water or juice to a newborn.
Don’t expect sleeping through the night. Newborns will sleep 2-4 hours at first and 6-8 hours by three months.
Do honor any requests made by the parents.
It may seem that grandparenting your newborn grandchild comes with landmines all around, and in a sense that is true. This is a time to be the helpful, supportive family member that your children need. They’ll set the boundaries and you, in all your love and kindness, will comply. Give praise for their parenting skills, affirm their love for baby and enjoy this most wonderful time in the life of your family.