Just starting out—The long road ahead

So, you are a grandparent, but now you are in a new situation, that of a grandparent raising your grand kid. Maybe you haven’t been in a full-time parenting role for a long time. Or, maybe you still have some children at home, regardless, this new “little person” moving into your life is going to change you life to some extent. Are you ready?

Getting the home ready for a baby

If you are going to be bringing a baby home to live with you, you will likely have a lot of things ahead of you in getting your home “baby-ready.” When I say “baby-ready” I am not just referring to putting things up and out of reach—although that is a very important thing to remember—I am talking about things that your grand baby will need like clothes, food, diapers and the like.

When our granddaughter moved in with us, we didn’t have more than minimal supplies for a baby. We had a few diapers because we had her and other grandchildren who visited, but we needed more. We needed bibs. We needed formula. If a baby needed it, we had to go get it.

I think our first trip to the shopping center cost us a couple of hundred dollars because, like I said, we needed everything. I am suggesting to you to start with a shopping list (unless you are in an emergency situation). Take the time to think about your purchases and don’t rush into buying things just because you think you “might” need them. Trust me, there will be a lot of things you DO need, so don’t waste time or money on items that aren’t necessary.

The reason we are suggesting these items is that you may not be able to ask the mother or father what things the baby has or needs.

If we were creating a shopping list today, these are a few of the things I would include:

  1. Diapers, ideally you will know the size you need, but if you aren’t sure get a couple of similar sizes. I am not an advocate of any particular brand of diapers as they all work pretty much the same way. The name brand diapers really don’t work a lot differently or better than the “generic” brand. If you have choices, choose a less expensive one and start from there.
  2. Wipes. You have no idea how useful these little handy things are. You can wipe up a baby’s face, butt, belly, fingers—whatever it is that needs a quick clean up. They are handy to carry in a diaper bag and keep at home and in the car.
    You might even find yourself using them!
  3. Bottles. There are many types and brands out there. Find the one that works for you and for baby’s needs. Try out different ones or connect with your county public or community health department for suggestions.
  4. Formula. This one can be tricky because you may not know what works for your grand baby. Some formulas can upset baby’s tummy others may not satisfy them. Call your county public or community health department and get signed up for WIC—Women, Infants and Children, (from conception to age 5). They can help set you up with formula, cereal, milk and many of the nutritional items your grand baby will require. They can also offer you some helpful advice in a lot of other areas.
  5. Clothing. Local thrift shops and garage sales and social media shop and sales work great. Most of the time, our experience has been that babies grow out of their clothes before they can “ruin” them. Besides, unless you are going to be doing a photo shoot, a few little stains never hurt anyone.
    You are going to want to get onesies, footie pajamas, receiving blankets, caps, booties, socks, t-shirts, bibs—you name it. You might be changing baby’s clothing a lot, so make sure you have multiples of everything!
  6. Car seat. If baby didn’t come with a car seat, call your WIC department or county social services. Many times they will give you one or hook you up with one. You could also check with your local medical clinic or hospital. Oftentimes, they have ways to help out.
  7. Bassinet or crib. Make sure to get one that is approved for a baby by modern standards. Along with that, you will want to have blankets and bedding appropriate for the Crib or bassinet.

The above is a very simple list, but your grandchild is not going to have a lot of needs outside of these to start with. The main thing your grand baby is going to need, above all else (except for food and a clean diaper) is your love. Give your grand baby that, and everything else will make sense.

But my grandchild is a toddler—now what?

Your grandchild, no matter what age, is going to have needs for food, clothing, shelter and love.

Making purchases for a toddler is quite similar to a baby. You have to buy them clothes that fit and are comfortable. Again, garage sales, thrift stores and social media swap and sales are great for getting a lot of “like-new” clothing and toys. If you keep an eye on the advertising circulars and check your favorite retailers clearance racks, you can also get a lot of seasonal items at really good prices, too.

At this age, the grandchild can eat many foods with you. They might have favorites—our grandchild loved Cheerios—but as long as the food is cut small or is a soft food, they will probably enjoy eating whatever you are having. Just make sure it is something nutritious for them (and for you, too! You’re going to need your energy and health!)

At this age, you will probably want to look at a twin size or toddler bed. I wouldn’t recommend a bed that is too high from the ground, you don’t want them to fall out and get hurt.

I would still keep the wipes around. Toddlers can be very messy little people!

Building for the future

Grandparent walking with grandchildNo matter what age your grandchild is when you first start taking care of them, they are going to have needs and they are going to rely on you to meet their needs. Seriously, your social services agency or public/community health agency will be a good starting point if you really don’t know where to go. You can also check with your church or religious organization for help.

In future posts, we will be sharing some specific types of help you may be able to get from different resources.

Until then, think positive. You are shaping the future of this child and your attitude will help shape theirs.







  1. I think this is a great and informative article about how to be a great grandparent. Definitely helps understanding the responsibilities a grandparent should take when caring for their new grandchild.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. It is a long road, but hoping this site will help grandparents and even parents raise good kids!

  2. Really liked your article it really made me appreciate my grandparents and what
    they did for me while I was growing up as they we’re the ones who raised me.

  3. Hi Karin, Great information and some great tips for the new/old family. My wife and I took in two of our step-grandchildren about 12 years ago when they were 3 and 5. It was a very quick can you, great here they are kind of thing that caught us completely unprepared. But we survived though it was hard letting them go after 8 months. I guess once you start you can’t stop. We took the plunge and became foster parents, always gotta be prepared for the short notice. Great article!

    • That is awesome! We have considered becoming foster parents, as well and will be looking more into it in the next six months.
      Thank you for your kind comments!

  4. Great post even though I’m not a parent or a grand parent, If I were I would have definately found this helpful and informative. If I ever do become a parent I can see myself coming to this site for tips, keep up the great work.

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