Your Grandchild’s First Visit - Retirement Net by Sue Johnson

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Your Grandchild’s First Visit

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You can do this...after all, you’ve done it before.

Posted August 10, 2010

Your new grandbaby is coming for his first visit. It has been years since you’ve had an infant in the house, but think back to what was essential and try to make the visit comfortable for the new mom as well as that precious bundle.

If you are picking them up at the airport you’ll need a car seat. Rules and regulations keep changing, so if you are thinking of using one you found at a garage sale, be sure it meets with the current standards.

You’ll need a place for the baby to sleep. It could be as simple as a padded and lined dresser drawer or as elaborate as a crib. Again, rules have changed. Crib slats must be 2 3/8” or less apart, and the mattress should fit snuggly, so don’t count on using the one your children slept in. A pack and play with a mattress and fitted sheet has worked well for us, as it collapses and stores easily out of the way when not needed.

It’s convenient to have a changing area with diapers, wipes, baby lotion and a diaper pail ready. Guarantee it’ll be used within the first few hours of the visit! We set a changing pad on top of the drier in the laundry room and found that the gentle tossing of the clothes when they were drying had a lulling effect on the baby. It’s prudent to also have a thermometer and petroleum jelly on hand as well as the phone number of a local pediatrician—just in case!

You’ll find flannel receiving blankets are great for swaddling as well as for “tummy time” on the floor. Soft washable face cloths are also helpful for wiping up the “blurps” or for putting over your shoulder. The days of using a clean cotton diaper on your shoulder are long gone!

Bathing supplies can be as simple as a bar of ivory or as elaborate as baby shampoos and soaps—ask the mom ahead of time what she uses and have it on hand. Speaking of soaps, you might ask if Dreft is her laundry soap of choice and have a jug of that in the laundry room. If the baby is small, he may fit in the kitchen sink, but if too big for that, a plastic tub makes things much easier than trying to handle a slippery infant in a big tub.

Though not essential, we found having a collapsible stroller was very useful not only for walks outside and little trips to the store but also for use in the house.

Look through the attic and see if you have some special toys your children enjoyed. They can be recycled, but make sure they are safe…no chipping paint, no sharp corners or buttons to be swallowed. You can create a fun mobile using basic shapes and colors. Books are good for all ages and CD’s of lullabies for babies or Raffi for an older toddler are super!

You may be thinking that all these “necessities” are adding up and going to be expensive, but in our neighborhood we share the essentials. One crib, one changing table, one stroller, one bathtub, one swing, one car seat and baskets of toys and books make the rounds providing welcome conveniences for many babies on the block. It works beautifully—just as long as we don’t all have our grandbabies arriving at the same time!

Don’t forget the mama—she’ll be grateful for a few extra winks, so if you can freeze meals ahead and clear your calendar, you’ll have more time to devote to snuggling and bonding with that precious new addition, while the new mom rests. If she’s a nursing mother, she’ll appreciate ready snacks and nutritious drinks. And if she’s using formula, ask ahead what she’ll need.

Last but certainly not least, be sure you have a camera and film—a video camera is especially great once that little one is on the move. As we grandparents know, these stages fly by all too fast, and you may not get another opportunity to record that new crawler inching his way toward you. Record the memories, they’ll be cherished reminders of that once in a lifetime first visit!

© by Sue Johnson and Elizabeth Bower, from Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren, 5th edition

Sue Johnson is the founder of Heartstrings Press, and co-author of 5 editions of the award-winning Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren. She has become known as a contemporary grandparenting expert, serves as a judge for the prestigious Mom's Choice Award, and helps families connect. She and Rick, her husband of 49 years, live in Lancaster, Virginia. Her website is


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