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Advice for soon-to-be grandparents

grandparents with grandchild

Becoming a grandparent is a wonderful thing. Welcoming a new member into your family can be truly exciting, with so many of us dreaming about spending time with grandchildren, teaching them things, playing, and creating fond memories. Of course, bringing a new child into the world is also very daunting for the actual parents, with so much to consider. As such, it’s important for grandparents to strike the right balance, to be helpful but never irritating. If you are a soon-to-be grandparent and would like a little advice on how to excel in the role, we’ve put together this article of advice, full of tips (including from parents) to help you be the best grandparent possible. The following tips are appropriate to all so if you suffer from mobility problems and need to install a stairlift, then you can still take the advice on board.

Be available

granddad with baby

One of the most important things a grandparent can do for parents is to be available for them when they need it, to let them know that you are there to help with whatever they need to make things easier. Recommending this as her top piece of advice is Marcie, a parent and blogger from the family/lifestyle blog Marcie in Mommyland:

“As a parent of little kids, my top tip for soon-to-be grandparents is to ask new parents how best you can help them. Maybe you can take the baby for a walk while the parents rest. Or wash dishes and tidy up the kitchen. Perhaps the new parents are too tired to cook so you could bring over ready to eat healthy food. Every parent has different needs and communication is key for a healthy relationship. Oh, and if you are planning to stay with them for a while, make sure to lighten their load, not add to it!"

Jennifer Rojas from Mommybites, a wonderful resource for parents, agrees that letting parents know that you are available to help is crucial: “It's important to let your grown child (now with a child) know you are there for whatever they need, but - and this can be a challenging balance to achieve - also give the new family their space. Although we (sometimes) appreciate the advice, the best kind of help is practical help because we're exhausted. Offering to cook, clean, run errands or babysit can be such a wonderful relief.”

Be patient

Grandmother with grandchild

Becoming a parent can be a stressful time, as grandparents will well remember themselves, so it’s important to be patient with parents, not to pressure them to let the grandkids spend time with you or to have you helping out right away. Sabina, from the parenting and family blog Mummy Matters, spoke to us about how patience is key for grandparents, offering her advice from a parent’s point of view:

“I would have been lost without the help of the grandparents, whether they were popping around with batches of homecooked meals for the freezer, making me a cup of tea or just holding the baby to give my arms a rest. In the early weeks, my Mum was a gem and took all my ironing for me or would take the baby out for a walk so that I could catch up on sleep.

“My best advice would be to offer whatever you feel you can to help but be patient and don't be offended if help isn't accepted immediately. Being a new parent can be very daunting and we want to be seen to be doing well so we might not always accept help straight away, but it doesn't mean we don't appreciate it.”

Allow parents to parent

Grandparents and family

Communication is key to all relationships and never more important than between grandparent and parent, as you must understand what the parents want from you and how they want to raise their children. Allowing parents to parent is certainly something that soon-to-be grandparents should remember and Kimberly from Passing Down the Love – a blog all about being a grandparent – incorporates this in her main piece of advice:

“Being a great grandparent isn't always as easy as it looks. There is a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive. My advice to new grandparents is to have a discussion with the new parents about expectations on both sides, long before the baby arrives. 

“Offer advice only when asked and even then, don't be angry or disappointed if your advice is ignored. New parents are navigating these unfamiliar waters, too. Respect their ability to seek out their own answers and make their own decisions. Be ready to help, but don't be in the way.

“Realize that parenting advice has changed a lot since you became a parent for the first time. Pay attention to any instructions you are given regarding the baby - putting her on her back to sleep, how to feed her, etc. Being aware of the rules the parents have set and following their requests will go a long way in deciding whether you are a fit babysitter. And heaven knows, every new grandma would love a chance to get her hands on that sweet little bundle!

“The whole ‘being the best grandma’ thing comes down to respecting the boundaries. You've raised your children. Let the parents have the job of parenting theirs while you embrace your role as a grandparent. Be supportive, available and respectful. But above all else, be kind.”

Claire from Life, Love, and Dirty Dishes also stresses the importance of holding back advice and allowing parents to do their thing: “I think it's important to recognise that times change and whilst your children may have turned out just fine, some of the advice that was given when you were raising them has changed. I think all new parents need time to adapt to their new role and life with this new little person that has turned everything they knew upside down. Whilst you may have some great advice, I think it's important in the early days to not give it unless asked. Your main job is to coo, and cuddle, and make cakes. Cakes are always welcome!”

Don’t go crazy with shopping

Credit card

It can be awfully tempting when you are expecting a new grandchild to go crazy with the shopping, buying all sorts of things for both baby and parent. Of course, this is all done with the best intentions but it’s better to speak with the parents first to see what they might need and what they do not want. While they will surely appreciate the gifts, some parents might prefer to pick things like clothing, toys, and prams themselves. So, by all means, be generous but strike up a conversation first and ask mum and dad what they might like, or even offer some suggestions.

Create a welcoming environment

As a grandparent, you are probably looking forward to spending plenty of time with the little bundles of joy, but if you want the parents to visit you often with the child, you need to create an environment that is welcoming and kid-friendly. If the parents feel your home is a safe environment, they are more likely to allow you to spend more time alone together. And when the kids are older, if you have created a space that they can look forward to visiting, they are far more likely to ask mum and dad to visit grandma and grandpa.

Be active but don’t overdo it

Grandmother in garden

It’s great if you plan on being an active grandparent, taking an interest in the child’s life, wanting to help the parents, and being available when needed, but it’s important to not overdo it for a couple of reasons. One, you don’t want the parents to feel like you are intruding or are getting in the way of them raising the child how they would like, and two, you don’t want to volunteer to do things that you are not capable of. Consider your health and what your body will allow, then be as involved as you feel able to. Don’t feel pressured, just be sensible, kind, caring, and present.

Tips for new grandparents

  • Be available
  • Be patient
  • Allow parents to parent
  • Don’t go crazy with shopping
  • Create a welcoming environment
  • Be active but don’t overdo it


To read more about grandparenting, visit our news section or read some of our other grandparenting-related articles below.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.