Six ways to be the greatest first-time grandparent

Six ways to be the greatest first-time grandparent

Just like becoming a parent, becoming a grandparent for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. Yet your experience can prove invaluable.

Just like parenthood, becoming a grandparent can be magical, fun, but a bit overwhelming. Here’s how to make sure you play your part to the full.

It’s good to know that even when you’ve notched up plenty of experience, life can still throw up some surprises every now and then. If you’ve recently found out that you’re about to become a grandparent for the first time, you’ll definitely know this feeling.

Of course, you’ve done it all before with your own now not-so-little ones, but now it’s about getting used to a new role with a new member of the family, so it can feel just as exciting –and nerve-wracking!

Naturally, you want to make a great first impression on the little bundle of joy – so why not take a look at our tips on how to grandparent like a pro?

1. Refresh your childcare skills

Your skills and experience will be much in demand, but you’ll be even more help if you take a little time to read up on the latest parenting advice. Medical advice moves on and some crucial safety advice has changed.

For instance, before the 1990s you might have been warned it was dangerous to put a baby to sleep on her back: now it’s recommended to minimise the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). So it’s a great idea to pick up the latest edition of a baby care book and give it a browse to refresh your knowledge, or check out the NHS’s advice online.

2. Take your lead from the parents

Think back to what it was like when you were a parent. It’s stressful and you’re trying your best, but everyone has an opinion about the decisions you’re making. You can help reduce the pressure by supporting their parenting approach, even when you disagree.

For example, when you’re doing something for the first time (like giving baby a bath or settling them for naps) your son or daughter will know what the baby likes best, because they’re doing it every day. Don’t be afraid to ask how they think a task should be done and follow their lead – and try not to be tempted to do things your way when they’re not looking!

3. Consider presents carefully

Having a baby is an expensive business, and gifts from the grandparents can be a lifesaver. But everyone has different needs and requirements, so it’s best to ask the parents what they need first.

Making sure that you don’t duplicate items, clutter up their cramped house or buy things they don’t need is more important than surprising them. After all, they’ve got enough surprises on their plate already!

After the initial special presents, practical gifts will be your best bet. Popping by with a pack of Pampers nappies, for example, will be appreciated more than another babygrow to add to the collection.

4. Give the new parents a break

Parenting is relentless, so lightening the load by offering to take care of the baby for a while is invaluable. And if you do a bit of babysitting, then it means more time with the grandchild for you, so everybody wins.

Even in the early days when the new mum won’t want to be separated from her baby, you can still help out. Preparing some meals they can easily reheat, for example, will let the parents focus on bonding with their child.

5. Stock up on equipment

Having a few of the essential babycare items at your home is a great way to make it welcoming for a stressed-out young family. You don’t need a whole nursery, but keeping bulky items like a travel cot, changing mat and highchair can make travel much easier for them.

Also keep a stock of Pampers nappies. Then it will be easier for the parents to make impromptu visits without worrying about bringing a nappy bag. And that means more opportunities for cuddles!

6. Bridge the long-distance gap

Of course, they can’t visit all the time and chances are that you live an hour or two away. But technology can help you be a constant presence in your grandchild’s life and see all the milestones of their development, even when they’re not around.

You could set up a group on a messaging app so the new parents can instantly share photos of the new addition to the family. You could also try video calling on your smartphone or computer, for example. This way you can read your new grandchild stories or sing them to sleep with lullabies and become part of their day-to-day reality, no matter how far away you are.

What’s your best piece of advice for new grandparents? Let us know your suggestions in the comments.

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Ducky 21/10/2017

My only child and grandchild live in Canada so social media is important to see our granddaughter grow up. In terms of support yes we can share our experiences but guidance and advice has changed. Current new parents are the I.T generation so they google everything! When we visited Canada when our granddaughter was a matter of weeks old I had to keep telling my daughter to use her natural instincts to decide why her child was crying NOT google it.

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