Grandparents and the New Baby
National Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day each year. We often forget how significant grandparents are in children’s lives; encouraging them, celebrating them, and loving them. Grandparents Day was set aside so that we can celebrate these special people!
When a new baby joins the family, it’s not just the parents who are thrilled. Many grandparents are just as proud and excited to welcome a little one into the world. Those who live close by to the newest member of the family often have a bigger role to play than those who do not. Even grandparents who are a drive or a flight away may come stay for extended periods when a child is born. This is how important the tiniest member of the family is to a grandmother and grandfather.
Defining Expectations for the Early Days
Different families have different expectations for grandparents after the baby arrives. It may seem awkward for some, but communicating expectations can really help lessen the stress of the early days. How long are grandparents going to visit for if they are coming to stay after the baby is born? Is childcare help or housekeeping help an expectation? If they live close enough, should grandma and grandpa come over on a regular schedule? Do grandparents feel comfortable with what is expected of them?
In some families the grandparent’s role is to take care of older children in the family during those first weeks of welcoming a new baby. Parents are often focused on the newborn and need a hand with other children in the home. Grandparents are a natural choice for extra help.
In other instances, grandparents help out directly with the newborn. Sometimes families are overwhelmed when they bring home twins or multiples and need all the support they can get. Often though, just one baby is more than enough to require another set of hands.
Grandparents bring a wealth of knowledge with them when it comes to child rearing, however, newborn care has evolved over the years. Many of the rules have changed when it comes to taking care of infants and it’s important for grandparents to stay updated, especially if they will be caring for the newborn in any way.
Grandparent Refresher Course
The Motherhood Center holds Grandparent Refresher courses to “help merge the wisdom of past generations with the methods of the 21st century.”
New research has shown that some common childcare practices that may have been standard decades ago are no longer acceptable today. For example, babies used to be placed on their tummies to sleep. However, we now know it is safest to put babies on their backs to sleep. Sleeping on their stomachs can be a risk for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The Grandparent Refresher course will cover everything from sleep habits and sleep safety, to feeding and diaper changing. The course will also cover general newborn care tips like umbilical cord care and sponge baths.
Grandparents who take this course will feel more confident in helping out with their grandbaby, giving not only themselves, but the new parents peace of mind as well.
Helpful Grandparent Tasks
Grandparents can also help out families with a newborn in many other ways that do not involve direct childcare. For example, a grandparent’s role can just be showing up to take the baby outside on a long stroller walk, giving mom and dad a break.
Other helpful tasks include helping around the house. New parents can find it challenging to find time to prepare meals. This is where grandparents who are not tasked with child care duties can shine. They can help the family stock up on groceries, cook and freeze some healthy meals, and make sure there are healthy snacks easily accessible for the new mom and dad. In certain cultures, special foods are prepared for the postpartum mom. Often, a grandma will be the one cooking up nutritious dishes to nurture a new mom back to health.
If being in the kitchen is not a natural role for some grandparents, they can still help nurture the new mom by sending her a gift card for a post-partum massage at the Motherhood Center! There are lots of wonderful benefits to getting a massage as a new mom.
On this National Grandparents Day, we want to honor all those grandparents who care and support families in so many different ways!