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Must-Haves for New Grands

Baby gear for Nana and Papa’s house


By Colleen Sell


When my children were babies and toddlers, a visit to or sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s house meant bringing everything my three kiddles might need for the day or overnight or weekend or (the rare) few-day or week-long stay. We’re talking baby bottles, sippy cups, food, diapers, diaper ointment, baby shampoo, clothing, toys, books, porta-crib, portable highchair, blankies, toothbrushes, car seats, stroller, and the list goes on. If I had stuck a dollar into my savings account for every load of stuff I schlepped in and out of my folks’ and in-laws’ houses and mine, the schlepping-to-grandma’s fund would have paid for my children’s college (well, a good chunk of it, anyway).

These days, most grandparents have on hand at least the basic products needed to care for and entertain young grandchildren — especially infants, babies, and toddlers. Some (actually, a lot) of us go all out — setting up dedicated rooms and spaces just for the grandkids and furnishing and stocking our homes with virtually everything needed to make the grandkid’s visit or stay at Nana and Papa’s as fun, comfy, safe, and easy as possible.

If you’re a new grandparent or shopping for a gift for a new grandparent, following are the most important child products and supplies to have at the grandparents’ house during the first three years of a grandchild’s life.

See “Nana-to-Be Showers” from the July/August 2013 issue of GRAND Magazine for tips on hosting a party for a new grandmother.
  • thCAT82VEW-highchairBibs: Washable cloth or BPA-free plastic, in a variety of sizes as baby grows
  • Baby bottles: BPA-free is recommended. For infants, use the same brand and nipple size as the parents’ do so that feeding time is familiar and comfortable for your grandbaby.
  • Sippy cups: BPA-free recommended
  • Bowls, plates, and utensils: Non-breakable, BPA-free, and kid-sized
  • High chair: Depending on your budget, available space, and aesthetic sensibilities, options range from a portable model that attaches to a dining table or chair, a full-size model that folds up and can be tucked away in a closet or corner, a standard-issue high chair that’s sturdy and looks good, or a convertible model that transforms from high chair, to booster chair, to stepping stool for helping out in the kitchen.
  • 4ozBARE_newborn_HR1-201x300Booster seat: A safe and comfortable way for toddlers to sit at the table when they’re too big for a high chair but too small for a regular chair.
  • Food and beverage: Keep a small stash of on parent-approved, age-appropriate staples, snacks, and beverages (Mommy’s frozen breast milk, formula, juice, etc. on hand, and shop for fresh food items before your grandchild’s arrival.
  • 1268957_f260-portacribPortable crib or play pen: There are so many choices, and baby beds can be pricey, so it’s tempting to buy used — which is fine, as long as it meets the new crib-safety standards of the US Consumer Products Safety Commission. I used a Pack N Play for the first 6 months of my four younger grandboys’ lives, and then switched to a regular crib that converted to a toddler bed.
For more information on crib safety, see “Is Baby’s Wee Bed Safe?” from the July/August 2013 issue of GRAND Magazine. 
  • thCAZM3CA6Crib sheets: Fitted only, and make sure sheets fit snugly.
  • Receiving blankets and / or swaddles: When these are the right fabric and used properly, they’re the safest, most comfortable cover for infants, whether asleep or awake, especially newborns.
  • Sleep sacks, prams, and blanket sleepers: The American Academy of Pediatrics and safe-sleep experts strongly recommends using these wearable coverlets rather than crib comforters and blankets.
  • Night light: For guest room, hallway, and bathroom (for toddlers)
  • Pacifiers: Optional but helpful, if the parents allow them; otherwise, a big no-no.
  • thCAARYY5Q-bouncerBouncer and/or baby swing: Optional, a comfortable and safe way for you to keep an eye on, talk with, and sing to your new grandbaby while preparing a baby bottle or oatmeal, cooking your own dinner, or cleaning up the kitchen.
  • Toys: Age-appropriate, both indoor and outdoor
  • Books: Age-appropriate, classics and the latest greatest
  • Movies and music: Age-appropriate CDs and DVDs; classics and the latest greatest for birth to five years
  • Arts, crafts, and activity supplies: Crayons, coloring books, Play-Doh, etc.
  • Rocking chair: Nothing beats cuddling and rocking a grandbaby in your arms. For me, a comfy, sturdy rocker with a gentle motion was a must-have for all six grandbabies — even the twins, one for each arm (ouch).
  • thCAH9A6FM-toysbooksTelevision: Unless Papa wants to spend Saturday morning watching Little Einstein or Despicable Me instead of the golf channel, putting a small TV in another room is ideal for limited and supervised (of course) “quiet” time in front of the small screen.
The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics discourages TV viewing and other media use (computers, etc.) for children under 2 years. Click here full report.
  • thCAK7O0TE-bathseatBaby bathtub: Look for a BPA-free plastic bathtub with a padded, reclining seat for baby.
  • Bathtub seat or ring: To keep your grandbaby safe when he or she is too big for a baby bathtub but too small to sit
  • Tub kneeler / step: One of these nifty do-hickies will spare your knees and back while kneeling and leaning over the tub to bathe your grandbaby and will help prevent falls when he or she is old enough to climb in and out of the tub with your assistance and “all by myself.”
  • Towels and washcloths: For sanitation and other reasons, it’s a good idea to reserve a few small, soft, cotton towels and washcloths for grand babes and tots only. Each of my young grandchildren has a special hooded towel and special beach towel of their own at Grammie and Papa’s house.
  • Non-skid appliqués: If you don’t already have these on the bottom of your bathtub and shower (for toddlers and older grandkids who prefer showers to baths), get ’em and stick ’em on now, to reduce the risk of slips and tumbles in the tub.
  • Bath toys: BPA-free, non-breakable, age-appropriate
  • thCAPDT8LA-bathtowelsBaby toiletries: Shampoo, bath soap, moisturizing lotion, diaper rash ointment, sunscreen, cotton swabs, toothpaste, etc. especially formulated for babies and young children
  • Toothbrush: Especially designed for babies and toddlers.
  • Potty chair / potty seat: My eldest grandson (now 24), who lived with me for most of his first four years, never used his potty chair or potty seat. He just stood on it one day to go pee-pee in the big-boy toilet like his Uncle Mickey. But my four younger grandsons, ages 4 ½ to 8 ½, made good use of the potty chair at my house. I wish now I’d had a potty seat for the twins, during those months when they were too big for the potty chair but a little afraid of the big-people toilet. It would have saved my aching knees and back, resulting from kneeling on the floor and holding on to them while they did their business.
  • Step stool: Gives toddlers safer, easier access to the bathroom sink and toilet. Later, can be used to help Nana or Papa in the kitchen.
  • thCABT7Y4E-changingtableDiapers: Keep a good supply of whatever type and brand of disposable or cloth diaper the parents’ use on-hand so you never run out of diapers while caring for your grandbaby.
  • Diaper pail: Use the real deal, whether designed for disposable diapers or for cloth diapers, rather than a regular trash can — more sanitary and less odorous.
  • Changing pad or table: Make sure it has straps and the pad is water-resistant, washable, and thick enough to protect baby.
  • Changing table / pad covers: You’ll need at least two, so that you have an extra if (when) an “accident” happens. Make sure the cover fits the changing table or pad snugly. My fav: fitted, terry cloth changing-table covers.
  • thCAVQAS90-layetteSleepwear: Temperature-appropriate, flame-resistant prams, pajamas, etc. Personally, ‘m a big fan of natural fiber (cotton, muslin, cotton-blend, silk) clothing for kids (and myself), and stay away from synthetic fabrics and the new micro-fabrics, which are made from petroleum products.
  • Play wear: Two or three outfits of comfortable, season-appropriate clothing in your grandchild’s current size
  • Outerwear: Sweater, sweatshirt, lightweight jacket, warm jacket, sun hat, cool-weather hat, gloves or mittens (if appropriate)
  • Under garments: Onesies, T-shirts, training pants, underwear
  • Foot wear: Booties, socks, slippers, tennis shoes, sandals, rain boots, snow boots
  • Contours-best-lightweight-stroller-2013Car seat: This will save you the hassle of taking the car seat out of the parents’ vehicle and installing it in yours, and visa versa — which is especially helpful for grandparents who regularly provide childcare regularly, take grandchildren on frequent outings in the car, or transport long-distance grandkids from and to the airport.
  • Stroller: The ideal “Grammie stroller” is safe and comfortable for your grandbaby, first and foremost, but also lightweight and easy for you to lift, open, and close.
  • Diaper bag: Made of durable, washable material and with easy-on-your back shoulder strap and plenty of compartments
thCA0FU4CF-AV-babymonitorHealth and Safety
  • Baby monitor: Audio or audio-video. Keep the device out of the crib and baby’s reach.
  • Baby gates: To block entrance to stairs, rooms, and areas that are unsafe for babies and small children.
  • Child-proofing gadgets: Outlet covers, doorknob covers, cabinet and door locks, toilet seats locks
  • Bulb syringe: To suction newborn congestion from nasal passageways.
  • First-aid kit: Make sure it includes age-appropriate items, such as small bandages
thCACM6LHPCapture Memories and Brag
  • Camera: Every grandparent needs a decent, click-and-shoot, digital camera
  • Camcorder: Optional, but highly desirable. Even an inexpensive Flip will get lots of use in a grandparent’s hands.


Colleen Sell is the editor-in-chief of GRAND Magazine and the adoring grandmother of six amazing grandchildren, ages 24, 17, 8, 6, and 4 years old.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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