Considerations for Grandparents Watching Baby

February 22, 2021

Curious grandson dressed in blue shorts and sailor shirt getting acquainted with loving grandmother with white hair, sitting together on light grey couch, facing one another

Caption: Allowing your child to get comfortable with a grandparent during normal visits will help everyone feel confident when leaving the baby in their care for short or extended periods of time.

Introducing a Grandparent as a Special Caregiver

Most people with children would agree that enjoying a break from time to time can help your well-being, but for some first-time parents, it can also be a source of anxiety and stress. Leaving your little one with the person that raised you or your partner doesn’t necessarily mean they will instinctively know your preferences and your baby’s routine. Raising babies has been ongoing for centuries, and that is reassuring; but, let’s not forget we’ve learned so much along the way. For example, we no longer lay babies down on their stomachs to sleep, exclusive breastfeeding can happen for extended periods of time, and complementary feeding starts at a later age (around six months). Grandparents bring their own unique set of characteristics to the equation—some might be overly eager to help—others, not so much. Some might come across as pushy, while others can’t wait to have the special moments of cuddling and bonding with their grandchild. No matter the situation, it is essential to establish clear communication and expectations from the start and appreciate that they have agreed or offered to help while also understanding there may be limitations. 

Parent and child with curly hair and yellow rainboots standing outside the front door, child’s hand pressed against glass to touch kneeling grandmother’s hand held in same position on inside, with grandfather in background.
Caption: Keeping communication ongoing, and reinforcing visits both to and from a grandparent’s home will help your child establish a relationship.

Hello Grandma and Grandpa!

Here are some helpful considerations when leaving your child with his or her with grandparents: 

  1. Plan Ahead: Arrange a visit beforehand to get acquainted with where things are located and give your family a chance to see how you like things done with your baby. If your baby will be staying in your home, showing your family around will be helpful, just as if you would show a babysitter who is not family. Don’t assume that just because they are related, that they can figure it out on their own. If your baby will be going to their home, ensure that all the supplies required will be ready. It is probably a good idea to have extra supplies on hand just in case something comes up.
  2. Safety: Complete a safety check in the home where the care will take place; making sure the house is baby-proofed and also take into consideration the safety of your family. Grandparents could be suffering from age-related changes, such as changes in their flexibility, strength, balance, etc. Making sure you have support in place (if required) will go a long way in making your parents or in-laws feel comfortable. For example, a handrail if stairs are necessary, or a comfy chair with armrests that is easy to get up from.
  3. Emergencies: Have an emergency contact list in place. Providing this will also help other adults who also may look after your baby but shouldn’t be overlooked for grandparents. It could include your cell phone numbers, nearby hospitals or walk-in clinics, family doctor or pediatrician, pharmacy, neighbours or friends, etc. Review other emergency-related scenarios—where the first aid kit is, what to do in case of a fire, and CPR in the event of any choking related incidents.
  4. Diet: You can prepare food in advance, along with a list of what your baby can and cannot have. List allergies you know of and provide instructions for what to do if your baby has exposure to anything. Include instructions on how to prepare food safely. Our Recipes for Growing Me ~6 Months edition is a good refresher for grandparents who may have to (and/or want to) make food for your child—these simple and fun recipe poems offer guidance to questions caregivers might have, when feeding infants.
  5. Sleep: Demonstrate how you put your baby to sleep and review all the guidelines in preventing SIDS. Providing a typical sleep schedule will be beneficial as well.
  6. Car Safety: Ensure the car seat is set-up and review how the car seat system works (this is something that has likely changed significantly over the years).
  7. Checklist: Provide a checklist or a typical daily routine. Knowing when your baby typically goes to sleep and for how long will help them understand that things are going the way they usually do and help put their minds at ease.
  8. Comfort: Ensure your baby has access to their favourite things—blankets, toys, books, to make them feel comfortable while you are gone.
  9. Agreement: Even though your parents or in-laws take care of your baby, be sure to address the agreement. For example, how long will you be gone for and will payment be required? Knowing this in advance will ensure that there are no awkward or resentful feelings later on.
  10. Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check in to see how your parents or in-laws are doing and make sure they are comfortable with the situation. 
  11. Feedback: If there is something that is bothering you, it is essential to address the situation right away. Try using “I” statements. For example, if Grandma insisted on giving your 4-month old baby a banana, you could try saying, “I’m hoping to follow the guidelines for complementary feeding and start around six months. I’m committed to exclusive breastmilk or formula until that time.”
  12. Appreciate: These are special moments that can encourage bonding with your baby and their grandparents—not just eating together, but reading, playing or evening singing! If you feel things are going well, be sure to let them know and appreciate that they may need a break from time to time as well (child care can be tiring—especially for the elderly!)


Young hip grandfather with black rimmed glasses sitting in armchair with grandson on lap dressed in rusty-coloured corduroy pants, and striped socks reaching for food on a bright yellow plastic plate grandfather is holding up.Caption: Feeling safe with a grandparent reinforces a baby’s sense of security and sets a foundation for sharing a special bond as they continue to grow.

Tidbit for your Tiny One

The importance of children having a relationship with their grandparents is well-documented, as children learn that they have an additional security layer within their family unit (provided the grandparents offer that role). It is also true that early bonding leads to a longer-lasting connection between grandparents and grandchildren.

Here are a few takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Establish the agreement and expectations early-on and plan ahead;
  • Ensure the safety of your little one, parents or in-laws is taken care of;
  • Provide checklists for your baby’s diet and routine; and
  • Communicate frequently, provide feedback, ask questions, and listen.

The following recipe poem is an excerpt from our book, Recipes For Growing Me ~ 9 months edition. We feel it is suitable to address the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. 

X is for experiences recipe poem and illustration, page from Recipes for Growing Me ~9 Months edition
X is for... experiences
I love to laugh and love to play
Sometimes I can sleep all day
I love to eat and explore
Watching you I adore
I’m so grateful for all you do
To shape my experiences
And learn from you
So thank you for giving me
An abundance of variety
In what I do and see

We hope we’ve contributed something beneficial to your baby’s diet, and remember… don’t hog the blog! Share it with new parents (and grandparents) today! Want to learn more from our baby’s first cookbook? Order now and enjoy 15% OFF Baby’s First Cookbook with code: BLOGHOG

Have a bloomin’ day!
Sarah & Karen

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