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, including me, fall somewhere between those two extremes. Here are the baby supplies for grandparents that I couldn’t do without.
Diapers, Wipes and Toiletries
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. I like to have a few diapers on hand for these situations. Wipes are also an item that you really don’t want to be without, and they are relatively cheap. 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.
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 a rectal thermometer. The ones that take the temperature on the forehead or in the ear are not precise. I like the digital ones that have a short tip attached to a bulb-like structure because there’s no worry about inserting the thermometer too far.You will definitely need Band-Aids or other adhesive bandages. Besides protecting cuts, they do wonders for the tears. Hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning cuts and scrapes, while an antibiotic ointment can be used after the cut or scrape is cleaned.
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. My dad has some toys at his house that are around 30 years old. All of his grandchildren and now his great-grandchildren have played with them. My children give me the toys that their kids outgrow for my younger grandchildren. I 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.