Different grandparents take different approaches to equipping their houses for visits from grandchildren. Some create an environment that is as well-equipped as the one they had for their own children. Other grandparents don’t have the space or the inclination to accumulate a lot of baby gear, and they rely on the parents to bring needed equipment and supplies. Most grandparents fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Here are the baby supplies that most grandparents find they can’t do without.
It happens to even the best parents. They underestimate how many diapers they are going to need in a certain period of time, or they end up staying longer than they planned. It's nice to have a few diapers on hand for these situations, but don't buy the giant boxes because babies switch sizes rapidly. Wipes are also an item that you really don’t want to be without, and they are relatively cheap.
If your grandbaby uses a pacifier, you'll want to have one or two extra. You definitely don't want to be caught without one!
Medications and Toiletries
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen drops are about the only medication approved for almost all ages and situations, so be sure to keep some on hand. Antihistamines and decongestants are no longer recommended for kids under four, so you won’t need those for a while.
You’ll also need some type of thermometer for checking your grandchild's temperature.
Most pediatricians downplay the importance of fever in children. Still, if you are babysitting and your grandchild gets sick, anyone you consult, from the parents to the doctor, will ask about fever.
Thermometers come in many forms today, and each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. Ask the parents which type they are using.
The ones that take the temperature on the forehead can be expensive. The ones that are inserted in the ear may not be precise. Rectal ones are fine for babies. The digital ones that have a short tip attached to a bulb-like structure are easiest to use because there’s no worry about inserting the thermometer too far.
You will definitely need Band-Aids or other adhesive bandages for minor cuts and scrapes. Besides protecting cuts, they do wonders for the tears. Hydrogen peroxide is no longer recommended for cleaning cuts and scrapes. Plain water and soap work just fine for cleaning. The authorities are divided on the advisability of using an antibiotic ointment.
You'll need an ointment in case of diaper rash, which can develop very quickly. A bottle of baby shampoo can be used on kids of all ages and will avoid the possibility of stinging shampoo in the baby’s eyes. When your grandchild is a little older, you will want to invest in a detangler if the child has either long or curly hair.
Once baby is a couple of months old, you’ll need insect repellent if you live in an area with mosquitoes. Some parents prefer repellents with all-natural ingredients or without DEET. Ask the parents what they prefer.
You’ll need a children’s sunscreen also. The recommendation on most sunscreens is that they are not for use on children less than six months old. Some pediatricians now believe that it is better to use sunscreen on a baby than to risk sunburn. The best strategy, however, is to keep the baby out of direct sunlight and protect the skin with clothing. After six months, you’ll definitely need to use sunscreen.
You’ll need baby bottles, either several for a bottle-fed baby or one or two for a breast-fed baby. You’ll need a bottle brush to clean them. Sippy cups are a life-saver when the baby starts drinking from a cup. Baby spoons are nice. You can either invest in some plastic plates and bowls or use paper. Bibs are essential.
It’s not really practical to keep new baby clothes at your house as the kids outgrow them so quickly.
By the time they would have worn them once or twice, they would be outgrown. Having some hand-me-down clothes or garage sale clothes on hand in case of emergencies can be a lifesaver. Of course, you will launder them before using them. If you don’t like the idea of your grands wearing someone else’s clothes, buy a couple of T-shirts that are a size ahead of your grandbaby’s size. They can be used for nightshirts or for emergency wear while baby’s clothes are being laundered.
Children love having a special stash of toys at their grandparents’ houses. They don’t have to be especially new or fancy. Often you can get toys from your older grandchildren as they outgrow them and use them for the younger grandchildren. If you've kept any of the toys from your own children, they are likely to be very popular. Everyone loves retro toys. You can also shop the clearance racks at toy stores and occasionally pick something up at a garage sale.
If you have stairs or other unsafe areas, you’ll want to invest in gates. Depending upon the layout of your house, you may want to invest in a baby monitor. Be sure your smoke detectors are operational. As for otherwise childproofing your home, you should realize that no home is truly childproof, but you can take certain steps to make your home safer. Of course, there is no substitute for vigilant supervision. And it's always a good idea to make a sweep of the house before the grandchildren arrive to make sure that there are no lurking dangers.
New grandparents will have to decide whether they want to invest in a few pieces of baby furniture for their own homes. Having a few pieces is certainly more convenient than relying on the parents to bring them every time they visit. Grandparents will need to consider their own budgets, whether they can spare the space and if they really want their home to have that baby ambiance again. They may want to consider the pros and cons of used furniture.
For sleep safety, most grandparents will need some type of crib.
Co-sleeping with grandparents isn't widely recommended as babies who sleep with anyone other than parents seem to have a higher risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. If the parents have a portable crib, they may be willing to bring it for overnight visits. If you want a crib for your own house and don't mind the expense, there are a lot of choices out there.
Many grandparents also like to have some type of chair for feeding. Again, there are many choices that are appropriate for different needs and preferences. It's advisable that grandparents who will be driving grandchildren around get their own car seats. Car safety seats are crucial for safety, and you wouldn't want to be caught without one.