Arrival of a baby in the family is always a cheerful feeling. Parents, cousins, relatives and grandparents all get excited about the new addition and want to be with the little bundle of joy. Every person in the family is eager to contribute in their own unique way
Grandparents share a special bond with their grandchildren, that is different from that of parents or siblings. There is nothing more valuable than having grandparents be a part of a child’s life, overall development and well-being.
While the thought is welcomed, and the excitement is justified, it is crucial to set expectations of grandparents especially when the new parents are too unsure of anything when it comes to handling the new baby.
In reality, from the day prior to the arrival of the new baby to first few weeks, the role of grandparents varies. Most grandparents rely on the playbook of their own experiences as parents. However, as society evolves and advances, and new norms get defined, it is important for grandparents to understand and appreciate these changes. Both parents and grandparents alike need to set mutual expectations on their involvement and approach to parenting. The objective is to create a harmony and a healthy atmosphere for baby’s growth and development.
Here are 6 essential ways how grandparents can share some responsibilities to help parents with the newborn
Take Care of the New Baby
When it comes to handling the baby physically, parents might just find grandparents to be most trustworthy and this is true. It is understandable that some grandparents may feel out of practice and find it stressful. Yet, grandparents have been parents. They will find it much easier to overcome such anxieties as compared to new parents.
Moreover, the new parents, especially the mother is dealing with the stresses and exhaustion of recent delivery, and hence feel the grave need of emotional and physical comfort, which can come from grandparents. After-all they share a bond with their grandchild.
Grandparents who are physically fit can try some of these while looking after the baby in mother’s rest hours.
- Taking charge of the feeding a few times a day, if the baby is bottle (formula or breast milk) fed·
- Walking around with the baby cuddled or rocking the baby to sleep
- Changing or adjusting the clothes or diapers
Help with Cognitive Development
This is especially true in bi-lingual or multi-lingual families. Grandparents can own the responsibility of speaking in a native language or a different language. Introducing languages to newborns helps with their brain development.
Grandparents can also read to a new grandchild which helps with cognitive development. Reading in different languages is also another way to help with baby’s cognitive development.
Singing to the baby can not only help keep the baby calm – and singing songs in different languages will be beneficial too.
Take Care of House Work
Some grandparents may not feel too confident about taking care of a new baby. However, they can always pool in with the house work and relieve the parents of the daily chores and errands. If new parents aren’t too fussy about how things are kept or managed around the house for few weeks. Parents, especially new mothers need to recognize and accept the fact they need help and take it when it is given.
Grandparents and other family members can help with grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing, paying the bills and other such chores.
No matter what the type and state of household parents have maintained, grandparents should never suggest through words or actions their housekeeping or lifestyle is less than perfect. It is important for both parents and grandparents to ask questions and set expectations. It is much easier for grandparents to adapt to a prevailing system to comfort and reassure the parents. Retaining calm and peace in the house for healthy nurturing of the baby takes precedence.
Be a Photographer for the Family
Who doesn’t want to click the pictures of a new baby and the excited family around? Yes, almost all parents are keen photographers in these modern times, but sometimes they could just be too tired to hold up a camera.
A grandparent can be a blessing to step in to take some pictures. Adorable pictures of mother, father and the baby create beautiful memories worth a lifetime. If the grandparents are taking pictures in the hospital, it is important to remain sensitive to hospital regulations and needs of mother and the baby.
Grandparents can also help with the task of printing photos, organizing them into albums, creating birth announcements and sending pictures to out to friends and family.
When it comes to publishing photos on social media – grandparents must show the pictures to parents and get an OK, so parents can be comfortable with the way they are look in the pictures.
Give Emotional Support to New Parents
New parents, especially when it is the first baby, often feel emotionally exhausted too, as they are devoid of any emotional bonding with each other whilst taking care of baby all the time. Postpartum depression or baby blues; as we call them, could be quite challenging.
These are the times when grandparents can become friends and lend an ear or a shoulder. Grandfather could take the father out for a drink and a heart-to-heart talk, which would help the father a great deal to redeem himself and come back rejuvenated.
Grandmother could cook a good meal for the mother or fix a cup of her favorite tea or coffee and sit down to chat with her. This also helps to strengthen the bond between grandparents and parents.
Not Interfere when situation demands it
At times, parents choose to exclude themselves from the rest of the clan when they are involved too much with their new baby.They might request grandparents to not visit or interfere with the upbringing. This must be given a consideration.This is a personal choice and cannot be denied.
While, this may hurt, it is okay to leave it be. Try to talk the parents out of their decision, but respect their judgement if they choose to remain excluded. There will be a lifetime of chances to bond with the grandchild later. Best to be an understanding parent and grandparent.
Being a grandparent is a blessing. Welcome your grandchild with all the love, care and compassion you have to offer. Comfort the new parents at the same time, just the way they want to be comforted. After all grandparents were parents onceT
Happy grand parenting to you!
If you have any queries, questions or issues related to your growing baby, you can always get in touch with me. I would be happy to help at any time.
Kamal Raj Singh
Freelance Early Childcare Consultant