Having been a long distance Grandma for the last few years, where I travel to visit and spend time with the grand babies and family, there really wasn’t a need for me to have very much baby stuff at our house. All I needed was my digital postal scale for determining shipping costs for baby toys or clothes being shipped to another state. To me, having a digital postal scale is an absolute necessity even if you’re not a grandma or grandpa, but have family and loved ones living in another state.
Once we began having grand babies being born much closer to home, it quickly became obvious that this Grandma was going to need to buy a few things to have on hand for when baby comes to visit grandma and grandpa or spend the night/weekend at grandma and grandpa’s house. Grandma’s that will be babysitting baby when mom goes back to work also need to be well-stocked in baby gear and products for taking care of baby, to greatly reduce the amount of baby stuff having to be carried over to grandma’s house all of the time. What does grandma need for babies and toddlers?
I’m not one of those grandma’s that believes baby needs everything under the sun and the kitchen sink, so I certainly don’t believe that grandmas need many of the baby products that advertisers would like us to believe we must have for taking care of babies and toddlers. I’m not interested in turning our house into a home version of Babies R US or Toys R US, while filling the pockets of toy makers and baby product makers.
I’m also not too keen on the idea of baby showers for first time grandmas – it just seems to me to be an excuse for a party and for people to feel obligated to buy grandma presents. Grandma baby showers seem rather tacky to me, and I wouldn’t even consider hosting that kind of baby shower or attending a grandma baby shower.
My general rule is that whatever baby products mom and dad need for baby, grandma needs those too. Notice I said “need”, not want. There are lots of baby products and baby gear stuff that are advertised as real baby needs, but there is a distinct difference between real needs for babies and just a list of wants that add up to spending an ungodly amount of money unnecessarily.
This grandma is sticking with the basics. Basic baby essential needs, not a list of so-called must-haves from a first time mom and dad who’ve gone wild with the baby registry store clicker choosing virtually everything the store has to be added to their registry and calling them “needs”. What on earth did moms and dads-to-be do before baby registries were invented and advertised as a must have?
For example, baby bath tubs. Do grandmas really need to have a baby bathtub? Even if storage space for infant bath stuff isn’t a problem, and the claim that using baby bathtubs makes it easier to give babies baths, I’ll just give grandbabies their baths in the kitchen sink like I did years ago for my own infant babies. Price: 0 dollars.
1. The most important thing that grandma needs for baby is a place for the baby to sleep. That may or may not be a full size crib set up in a nursery room at grandmas house. If grandma and grandpa have a room that can be made into an actual nursery for the baby on the main floor of their home (versus a bedroom upstairs requiring grandma to constantly run up and down the stairs all day), then a full size crib and crib bedding would work just fine. Some grandmas choose to spend a great deal of money on setting up a nursery in their own home, with matching curtains, changing table and dressers, bumper pads, sheets and blankets etc, just like mom and dad have.
Other grandmas, like me, are happy with just buying a portable crib (aka pack-and-play crib) and portable crib bedding that works as a baby crib and play pen at the same time, and can be easily moved from one room to another on easy glide casters, or folded up and put away in a closet when no longer needed until the next grand baby is born. Since we have a grand baby using the pack n play for sleeping in, but also a toddler grand baby needing a place to sleep or take naps, I find the portable nap mats to be a perfect solution. Nap mats are great for toddlers, preschoolers and daycare/school age kids, and I love that nap mats are available in non-gender specific styles and colors for both little boys and girls to use.
2. Having a changing table at grandma’s house may be very helpful, allowing grandma the ability to change baby’s diapers in a comfortable standing position, versus having to bend over a bed or actually get down on the floor and change diapers on a changing pad or blanket laid on the floor. If grandma has the space needed for a changing table, or has a dedicated baby’s nursery room, then the changing table would be a good choice to save grandma’s back from potential injury.
Stock the changing station with an ample supply of diapers, diaper rash cream or ointment, baby wipes, diaper pins if using cloth diapers, baby nasal aspirator, baby nail clippers, thermometer, etc. Grandma’s who babysit grandchildren on a daily basis while mom and dad are at work might also need a supply of baby shampoo, powder, lotions etc. Some grandma’s choose to have baby size washcloths and towels for giving baths, while others simply use their own adult size bath towels and washcloths for bathing baby.
I don’t use a changing table, so I’ve created my own diaper changing and bathing essentials basket where I keep those baby supplies for quick and easy access, out of reach of children. I also have my own supply of baby bibs, baby clothes and toddler size clothes for necessary changes, sleepwear pajama outfits, for when mom and dad forget to fill the diaper bag with such things or there is an unplanned sleepover.
3. Highchairs or booster seats for baby’s eating time are absolute necessities in my opinion. I’m not personally a fan of the booster seat style high chairs, but many parents and grandparents seem to like them better than the traditional high chairs that I actually prefer. I understand that booster seat high chairs are a space saver, since they are attached to adult size dining or kitchen table chairs, but I much prefer having a dedicated high chair that doesn’t take up much space at all.
4. Car seats and strollers. Grandmas have to decide for themselves if they feel having their own car seat and stroller for baby is a necessity or not, or if mom and dad will leave their car seat and stroller for baby at grandmas house each time. For me, having my own car seats for the grandkids works best for me, especially since modern car seats are not only heavy but also quite bothersome to have correctly secured in the vehicle.
Having to secure and unsecure car seats and transfer from grandmas car to parents car over and over is an unnecessary headache I don’t care to deal with. I don’t yet have my own stroller for the grandkids, but I’m seriously considering buying a double stroller since there are two kids needing to be in a stroller at the same time.
5. I definitely believe grandmas need a baby feeding set that includes the plate, fork and spoon, plus a couple non-spill sippy cups, for kids learning to feed themselves in the highchair. Thinking that young toddlers will do just fine with your everyday dishes and silverware will change rather suddenly the first time said toddler decides he/she is finished eating and proceeds to dump your dishes onto the floor, smashing them into a thousand pieces. Non-spill, non-drip sippy cups are a life saver protecting your furniture and carpets from little kids walking around with drink cups.
6. Baby gates are a definite NEED, to protect curious kids from trying to make their way up or down staircases. Some grandmas may prefer to have small grandchildren playing in large, “super play yard” type playpens, while other grandmas might be just fine with babies and toddlers crawling and running free and unhindered in dedicated spaces within their home.
7. At some point, grandma will need a potty chair or potty seat for little ones learning to “go” on their own. Potty chairs or seats for toddlers isn’t an immediate need at the time a grand baby is born of course, but will be something to consider buying and having on hand once little Susie or Bobby starts pointing at their diaper region and saying “Grandma! Poo Poo!” in preparation for potty training. (wink, wink).
8. Toys, toys and more toys! Of all the things grandmas need to take care of grand babies, having a nice supply of various baby and toddler toys, games and children’s books is one of my favorite parts about being a grandma. Searching for fun, entertaining, interactive, educational, and inexpensive toys for kids is so much fun for me. Seeing the kids eyes light up and become excited at seeing a newly added toy at grandma’s house makes being a grandparent extra fun for me and grandpa. I love the Step2 brand of toys for babies and young toddler kids, both boys and girls toys. Ride-on toys, play kitchen toys and workshop toys, push toys, musical and noisy toys, all to entertain grandchildren.
That’s not to say that all or most of these things must be bought brand new. I’ve found some great items I felt I needed to take care of our young grandchildren in online garage sales, and others were bought brand new at very low prices.
Baby bottles kept at grandma’s house, baby formula, bathtub rings, baby monitors, nightlights, step stools, web cameras, and even rocking chairs aren’t things I necessarily believe to be absolute must-haves for grandma to keep supplied at her house. Mom and dad have a diaper bag that can be filled with breast milk, baby formula and bottles, pacifiers, teething rings etc and brought to grandma’s house, rather than grandma having all of those supplies kept at her house.
Being a well-stocked grandma is a good thing, but let’s not go overboard and turn non-essentials into must have essential needs for babies at grandma’s house.