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Being a grand grandparent

Mary Gosche, Human Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension


Grandmother kissing smiling grandson on the cheekBecoming a grandparent for the first time is a wonderful experience. Having raised children, many grandparents may think they know everything about caring for children and being a grand grandparent. However, things have changed and there are many new things to learn.

Changes in infant care


One big change is that a baby should only be laid on his/her back to sleep. Research supports this practice because it decreases the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Do not put bumper pads, blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the crib with the sleeping baby as they reduce the flow of fresh air around the baby during sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that some infants, when they are overheated or lack sufficient oxygen during sleep, are unable to rouse themselves enough to prevent death. The AAP has also determined that re-breathing of air may be a contributing factor to SIDS. A safe crib should have a firm, tight-fitting mattress (with only a tight-fitting sheet), no broken hardware or slats and no cutouts in the head or foot boards. Drop-side rails are now prohibited in cribs. The Safe to Sleep campaign has more information and videos specifically for grandparents and caregivers.


Most people use disposable diapers. Newborns even have their own style of disposable diapers with an indentation for the naval. Soiled diapers now go in “diaper disposal systems.” The old cloth diapers are primarily used for spit-up and burp cloths. There is a new movement of cloth diaper users, but the new cloth diapers come in a wide variety of styles, all of which are fitted, effective and cute.


Many new mothers are breastfeeding their babies. Expensive breast pumps seem to be on everyone’s gift registry. Along with the new breast pumps, there are storage bottles and bags to freeze breast milk, which is helpful for the mom-on-the-go.


Baby bottles are available in a wide variety of styles as well. Parents can choose from glass, plastic, plastic inserts, natural shaped, etc. depending on their preferences and the type that is best suited for the baby.


It’s helpful to keep up with new parenting approaches, but remember to always respect the parents’ choices and parenting styles.


Recommendations for grandparents


Grandparents can be positive role models in the lives of their grandchildren. Studies have shown that grandchildren who have a close relationship with their grandparents become responsible, caring adults who are less likely to fear aging themselves.

Grandparents should determine and create specific roles for themselves with their grandchildren. Do you want to have a playful relationship? Will you be responsible for the care and discipline of your grandchildren? Will you primarily be the reservoir of family wisdom? Will you have brief contacts with your grandchildren or will you see them frequently? Will you indulge your grandchildren or will you save for their education and their future?

Communicating and playing as often as you can with your grandchildren is easy advice for most grandparents. Through play, communicate your interests and share family history and culture.


Remind your grandchildren often how much you love them. Give the gift of time to your grandchildren and reap the benefits from the time that is given.


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Last Updated 09/08/2016