It Does Take a Village: The Role of Grandparents & Caregivers in Raising a Baby Day 1: It Does Takes a Village

It Does Take a Village: The Role of Grandparents & Caregivers in Raising a Baby

Grandparents & Grandchildren: A Beautiful & Unique Relationship

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the beautiful bond that grandparents share with their grandchildren. You may remember it from your own experiences! 

The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is a treasure trove of love, wisdom, and cherished memories. Grandparents also have a deep well of unconditional love for their children. They often are the source of historical anecdotes, bedtime tales, and life lessons. They may also help pass on the traditions that have been passed down through the years. 

It's a relationship that enriches the lives of both generations and leaves an indelible mark of love and support that lasts a lifetime!

8 Tips for Parents

To set the stage in an effective manner, there are certain steps we encourage the parents to do.

Tip 1: Be confident in your choice

Before you start a new approach or aspect you wish to use to bring up your baby, be confident in using that approach. Consider it through the lens of your family's values and the principles that are close to your heart. How do you want your family foods to be? How do you want your family culture to be? What kind of values do you and your spouse want to instill in your child?

Recognize that your and your spouse's family values may diverge, so strive to find a harmonious middle ground that brings joy to both of you as parents. Or redefine your values to find a middle ground; it could be a mix of the old and the new! Choose an approach that aligns with your parenting value system as well as your skills. All parents have their limitations and challenges, so ensure that your chosen parenting approach or ideas fit realistically within these constraints. 

For example, maybe you’re pondering what feeding approach to use for your baby. Educate yourself on the various approaches, discuss it with your spouse, learn as much as you can on the pros and cons of the approach you’re leaning towards. Then, choose what is comfortable for you and your habits, routines, and lifestyle.

Tip 2: Work as a team

Alwaysinvolve your partner/spouse in the parenting choices and decisions. It’s a good idea for both of you to be aligned and on the same page. Include your spouse in the decision process. This way, you can be a united front in raising your child as well as in convincing your elders about the benefits of your chosen approach.

Tip 3: Train and learn as much as you can

While concepts may appear easy on paper, not everything seamlessly transitions into reality. So, make sure you keep learning and educating yourself on the approaches or processes you wish to follow. Seek online training, consult with professionals, engage in parenting communities and networks, and acquire insights into potential setbacks you may encounter during the actual implementation. If a problem arises, focus on solving it instead of dwelling on the problem itself or second-guessing your choices.

Tip 4: Teach other caregivers

Once you feel confident about your chosen approach, it's time to educate your family or immediate caregivers, including anyone else involved in caring for and feeding your baby, such as a nanny or grandparent.

Before entrusting someone else with the responsibility of feeding your baby according to your chosen approach, serve as a model for the feeding process. Be confident as you enact the process with your baby, and let the others observe and learn. This will help them to learn by example.

Tip 5: Make elders feel included and heard

Weaning as a process and experience has changed drastically over the years. How we feed babies today is very different from what our parents followed with us. A lot of the weaning or feeding processes that parents follow today may feel alien to the grandparents. They may feel confused or question your choice. Remember, this usually comes from a place of concern and love for the baby.

So, include them in the learning process, show them videos, sit with them, and read about it together. When grandparents or elders are involved in the learning process, they will be more open to understanding and working alongside you to raise your baby the way you and your spouse choose. Remember to explain the “why” or the “advantages” so they can see the reasoning behind your chosen approach.

They will also understand the process better when they see their grandchild making progress.

Tip 6: Involve the family in the feeding process

Involve your parents/in-laws in the food preparation. At the same time, don’t make them feel unheard. They may have their own advice and guidance, which comes from their extensive experience (many of our parents and grandparents have raised more than 2 children). 

Hear them out with respect and don’t shut them or silence them. Sometimes grandparents notice something the younger parents fail to, as they’re juggling so many things. Or they may voice concerns about your baby’s nutrition. Address their concerns with patience and make them part of the process.

Tip 7: Trust your instinct and have faith in the process

If there’s one takeaway you can get from this entire Slurrp It Up learning process, it’s to trust your instincts as a parent! When you’re confident of the choice you made and you and your spouse stand by it as a team, nobody else can make you doubt yourself. 

During the journey of motherhood, while you’re dealing with recovery, fatigue, and stress, it’s easy for moments of self-doubt to come in and shake your faith. People may tell you you’re not doing it right. How confident you and your spouse are will make a huge difference in how bogged down you get by these comments.

In many communities, it’s common for elders and neighbors to tell new moms how to raise the child. They may suggest force-feeding if the baby is not eating well or enough (force-feeding was common when they had small babies). But that may not be good for your baby today. So, stick to your guns and be firm.

Tip 8: Acknowledge them

Grandparents come with a wealth of wisdom and life experiences, which can be instrumental in raising your children. Do acknowledge and appreciate their help and support irrespective of everything else. Remember, your family, relatives, and other caregivers have only the best interest of your baby in mind.

It’s easier to have a positive and joyful child-rearing experience when everyone involved works as a team. Learn together, delegate tasks, and let everyone feel valued, as this is a great example to set for your baby. Remember your baby is observing everything – from the interactions at home to behavior patterns and dynamics between family members. Let them have a good foundation for learning.

The next part of this article is exclusively written for your parents/in-laws or any other older family members who are involved in raising your baby. Do share this article with them, so they can read the “7 Tips for Grandparents” below. You can also take a printout and give it to them.

7 Tips for Grandparents

Dear grandparents, we see you and thank you for playing such a vital role in the baby’s value system! Here are some tips exclusively for you, so that all caregivers can work together to raise a happy, healthy child!

Tip 1: Give advice and be receptive

As grandparents, you have such a wealth of wisdom and experiences. Your stories and life lessons are instrumental in creating loving memories for your grandchild. You may have magical tips to get the baby to calm down or go to sleep. Feel free to share your advice and guidance to the parents, for example, perhaps regarding the weaning process.

At the same time, be open to new ways of parenting and weaning that your children may talk to you about. Listen without judgment and understand why that may have more value for your grandchild today. The way you did things back in your day is very different from the way things are done today. The world is moving at a rapid pace, and children’s needs too are evolving. At the end of the day, all of you want what’s best for the little one!

Tip 2: Respect the parents’ decisions

While your life experiences are invaluable to your family, it’s a good idea to respect the baby’s parents’ decisions and choices. Parenting and child-rearing have changed and evolved over the years, so trust the decisions your kids are making in raising their child. Acknowledge their individual thoughts and efforts. You had your chance to make memories with your babies; this is their chance to create memories with their newborn!

Tip 3: Pass on culture through food

You can pass on the family traditions and recipes to your grandchild and you can start them young. Family foods or traditional foods play a very important role in the baby’s solid food journey, and who better than you to step in and help prepare and modify meals to make them baby-friendly. This is a beautiful opportunity to pass on your cultural heritage to the baby one morsel at a time!

Your support in preparing the baby’s meals can take so much pressure off the mom, who can focus on other baby care duties.

Tip 4: Help babies develop good eating habits

When both parents are working and the mom’s maternity leave ends, it’s generally grandparents who are usually taking care of the young baby at home. This is a great opportunity for you to bond with your grandchild through food. As grandparents, you may have more patience with babies, and your grandchild cherishes every moment he or she spends with you.

Babies learn a lot by just observing and watching, so model good eating habits when you’re around them. When you’re about to feed them, model eating with them and encourage them lovingly to explore flavors; this helps babies build a positive association with food. When they see you joyful during mealtime, they too will be joyful. Don’t forget to comfort them with hugs and warmth – the type that only grandparents give best! 

When you create a positive mealtime experience, babies will want to keep coming back for more!

Tip 5: Offer breaks to parents

Weaning is a demanding task and parents, especially the moms, can be exhausted – even more so if they’re back at work. You can be a pillar of support for your children if you step up during such moments. Offer your help when you’re available and express your interest in caring for the baby while the parents can take a break to recharge or spend quality time with each other.

Tip 6: Acknowledge progress

Remember to acknowledge and celebrate the daily milestones the child may achieve, no matter what they are. This helps reinforce the baby’s confidence and have a positive association with their accomplishments. 

Do the same for your children (the parents of the baby). Parents, especially moms, need to feel heard and seen. Avoid comparing your children or grandchildren to other people’s children or grandchildren. Every baby is unique and they will grow at their own unique pace.

Tip 7: Learn about new weaning practices

Take an interest in educating yourself on the weaning choices your children are making for their baby. The more you know, the less you will have concerns or doubts. 

Together, with respect and support, you and your family can raise a well-rounded child who is bursting with curiosity and contentment.

Tomorrow, we will look at what you should keep in mind while buying/shopping for foods for your baby in the market. Some simple tips will save you time and not make you feel overwhelmed by the varieties of baby food products!