Tips to help grandparents help you

8 years ago
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I have met many grandparents over the years when I visit mothers and babies. Grandmothers are more commonly involved with helping a new mother and are especially amazed at the changes they see in parenting styles.

Some of these changes are related to and/or include:

• Skin to skin contact
• Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
• Co-sharing
• Co-sleeping
• Best sleeping position for babies (on their backs)
• Disposable and cloth nappies
• Water or juice for breastfed babies (they don’t need it)
• Cuddling babies to sleep (it’s fine)
• Controlled crying (unnecessary); and
• There is no such thing as overfeeding a breastfed baby!

I appreciate that, as the mother or mother-in-law, you may have to tread a very fine line as you try and help the new mother and baby in your care.

What excites and fascinates me is there is scientific evidence and research to support the art of breastfeeding and parenting that refutes the old wives’ tales and myths that probably also influenced your breastfeeding and parenting when you had babies.

  • Cuddling the baby to sleep after a breastfeed is ok
  • Letting the baby sleep on your chest or in your arms while her mother sleeps is ok.
  • Talking or singing to the baby while you change the nappy.
  • Taking the baby for a walk in the pram by yourself .
  • Wearing the baby in the baby carrier when you go out.


Great ways to help a new mother:

  • Ensure she has three meals and two snacks every day.
  • Offer fluids throughout the day.
  • Do household chores so she doesn’t need to (if they haven’t been outsourced).
  • Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with food to keep the new family well fed.
  • Keep visitors at bay so she can sleep when she wants to (and you too if you are staying with her).
  • Turn the phones off when either or both of you are sleeping.

The following tips will also help you recognise a tired baby. Getting to know the baby’s tired signs will be very helpful in knowing when to implement strategies to help settle her and assist her to sleep.

Tired signs

  • The baby starts to turn her head away, trying to disengage from you.
  • She starts to yawn and becomes restless.
  • Her previously relaxed arms and legs by her sides become jerky and fidgety.
  • She draws her legs up and clenches her fists into her chest and body.
  • She starts to cry a little at first and continues to build up.

Resist the temptation to “jolly” the baby into staying awake – you will only end up with an overstimulated baby who will start crying and take longer to settle.

Crying is a last ditch effort from a baby trying to communicate her feelings of overwhelming need for food, security, warmth and sleep. She doesn’t need to cry  it out or ‘exercise her lungs’, she’s needs a cuddle and proabably another breastfeed. By watching these cues for sleep and comforting, you will become more in tune with her needs and more confident as a grandparent or carer. Good luck.