Deborah is the author of of Baby-Boomer-Retirement. com and often writes about retirement and topics of interest to Baby Boomers.
What Do You Need When Your Grandbaby Comes to Visit?
My husband and I have seven grandchildren. When most of them were babies, we went to visit them rather than asking their parents to bring them to see us. This made it easier on their parents, so they would not have to travel with a young infant. The newborns were rarely brought to our house and, when they did come, their parents brought all the supplies they needed with them.
With our newest grandchild, however, our daughter who lives 3000 miles away on the other side of the country flew here with her infant son, and stayed for three weeks. She plans to do this at least once a year, and she hopes to have more children. She does not want to try to bring all the supplies she would need on the airplane, so we told her we would go shopping and buy some of the essentials, especially the bulkier items. Since it has been three decades since we purchased baby supplies, we had a lot of fun!
We knew that, at the very least, we would need a place for the baby to sleep, a car seat, and a lightweight stroller. We would also need diapers and similar supplies. Unlike new parents, we did not feel we would have to purchase anything major, such as a baby swing, baby monitor, toys, special towels, clothing, etc. We just needed the bare minimum of supplies so that our grandson would be comfortable during his stay.
Once we had our temporary nursery equipped, I thought other grandparents would be interested in seeing what was available and what we learned in the process. Some things have changed quite a bit since our own children were infants!
A Pack 'n Play is Perfect for a Visiting Grandchild
The first item we needed to select was a Pack 'n Play. This is a combination crib/playpen, which can fold up into a very small package that can easily fit in the trunk of a car. It's perfect for the home or taking a young child on a visit somewhere. Although there are several brands available, we found that they were all very similar.
Pack 'n Plays can also be found in consignment stores or, if you don't think you will need it very long, you may just want to borrow one from another grandparent you know!
Choosing the Right Car Seat
When I was a young mother, we were not nearly as safety conscious as parents are today. If you are going to purchase a car seat for your grandchild, you need to know the weight and height of the child so you get the appropriate size and design. There are styles for infants, toddlers, and older children who just need a booster seat.
With a five-month-old grandchild coming to visit, we had to purchase an infant seat. However, the next time he visits, we will need to have the toddler-size seat. There are convertible styles that work for both age groups. Since our daughter is planning to have more children, we decided to get a separate seat for each age group. The time may come when we need to be able to transport more than one child safely!
If you think that this is the last car seat you will need to purchase, then make life easy on yourself and get a convertible car seat.
Infant Seats for the Youngest Children
Below you will find a car seat that is rear-facing and designed exclusively for infants. While back in the 1970s and 1980s we moved our children up to front-facing car seats as soon as possible. The thinking about this has changed dramatically in the intervening decades. Today, many parents want their children to stay in rear-facing seats, which are considered safer, as long as possible. In fact, it is the law in most states ... and you don't want to get a ticket because you did not put your grandchild in the correct type of car seat.
Be sure to check with the baby's parents before buying a car seat for your grandchildren, because many young parents have very specific ideas about the right type of car seat for their children. We purchased the infant seat below and our daughter, like her peers, wants her child to be in a rear facing car seat as long as possible. Other parents may feel differently about the style and brand of seat they want for their child.
Convertible Car Seats
Convertible car seats have the advantage that they work for infants and can be switched around so they will also work for toddlers and young children.
Convertible car seats often cost a little more, but they last a lot longer.
I highly recommend these types of car seats, especially if you expect this to be your last grandchild or the only one you will have.
Read More From Wehavekids
This is an Excellent Car Seat - But Check with Your Adult Children Before Getting One for Their Baby!
Turn a Bed, Table or Dresser into a Changing Table
You may also need a waterproof pad to keep on hand so that you can have a comfy, sanitary place to change the baby anywhere in your home. My daughter just used a bed as a changing table. However, we put a pad down on the bed to reduce the risk that the bedding would become soiled.
If you have a dresser that is the right height, there are also pads that make it easy to convert a dresser into a changing table. Since changing the baby on a bed hurt my back, I really wish we had had a dresser that would have worked.
You May Want an Inexpensive Stroller
If your kids normally bring a stroller along when they show up with their baby, then this is not an item you will need to have. However, if they are flying across the country to see you, then bringing along a stroller may be a lot of trouble. In this case, you will want to have a cheap stroller in your supply closet!
We found an inexpensive umbrella stroller that doesn't take up much room. They can be purchased in many stores and online for less than $30.
Duplicate Diapers, Lotions and Shampoos
You may want to have some of these on hand when your infant grandchild comes to visit. Before you buy any lotions and creams, make sure you check with your children so you know what brand of baby supplies they are already using.
You want to get the brand that the parents prefer. Most young mothers are very particular about what products they use. In addition, you don't want to switch brands and then discover that the infant develops a rash or other reaction.
Fortunately, since you probably won't need the products for very long, you can probably get by with purchasing a gift set that has small size containers of all the different products you are likely to need. You can also buy most of the products you will need at your local grocery or drug store.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Deborah Carr
Do you have any other suggestions for preparing Grandma's nursery?
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on February 22, 2020:
You have a number of excellent ideas and pro-suggestions here. I immediately wanted to find those toys in the top picture! I’m disappointed there is no mention of their brand or a link to them in the article, but I totally second the Pack N Play. Mine lasted through two grandkids, then I gave it to a needy mom and dad through a local charity. One of the best granny-purchases I made while they were little ones.
Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on April 11, 2015:
You're just like my eldest sister who just became a grandma. Like a girl scout, she has all the baby supplies ready whenever her son and his wife drop off their baby at her house. You should see the way she cares for the little one - with so much granny affection! (Much to my delight!)
Sheilamarie from British Columbia on March 28, 2015:
You must be so excited to greet your new grandchild and parents! It looks as if you've thought of most things. If the baby were a little older, you'd have to think of a high chair, too, or plan to feed baby in his car seat.
C E Clark from North Texas on March 11, 2015:
Good advice for new grandmothers so they'll be ready when their new grandson or daughter come to visit -- or when they get to have them stay overnight while Mom and Dad go off for the weekend!
Deborah Carr (author) from Orange County, California on October 24, 2014:
I love having a crib, stroller and car seat at my house. These supplies make it much easier for the grandbabies to visit.
Deborah Carr (author) from Orange County, California on October 06, 2014:
It sure makes it easier to enjoy your grandkids when you have the basic supplies at your house. This article contains the items I thought were the most helpful.
Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin on October 06, 2014:
Grandma needs to have all the supplies for baby.
Deborah Carr (author) from Orange County, California on September 11, 2014:
At the very least, every grandparent will love the Graco Pack N Play! So much more convenient and economical than buying a bed!
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on September 11, 2014:
As a part-time granny-nanny, I must say thumbs-up on a good selection for the grandparents. We have one of the Graco Pack N Play beds ourselves. I've never regretted the investment for one moment.
Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on August 09, 2014:
Very thoughtful grandparents! :)