Grayson in a stroller
Credit: BoomerBill

Grayson in a stroller, ready for action.

Babysitting on Your Own Again

You'll Remember How

As a new grandfather, I’ve already done my share of solo babysitting.  Grayson and I have a great time together.  He is easy to watch as little ones go, I think he always has a smile on his face.  He is evidence to me that a positive disposition is ingrained genetically.  I am lucky to spend time with him.

As I’ve embarked on my grandfathering adventure, I’ve stumbled some along the way in my baby watching endeavors.  Here are some things to consider to make the babysitting work for you and your grandchild.

Make Sure You’re Strong Enough to Lift the Baby or Toddler

My Mom would love to be able to watch Grayson on her own.  She loves every second with him.  Unfortunately, once he crossed the twenty pound threshold, which seemed to take all of two months, she could no longer lift him by herself.  Mom is a very healthy 85 and is quite active, but she does have back problems and lacks enough muscle to hoist the little guy.  I caught her falling back on the couch recently as she tried to stand up while holding him.  As a preliminary matter, if you aren’t strong enough to pick up the kid on your own you need to have someone with you at all times who can pick up the child.  Keeping the baby close to your body when lifting is helpful.[1]

Baby Proof at Least One Room

If the little one can crawl on his own, make sure at least one room is child proofed.   Put plastic covers on the light sockets.  Remove objects that would be interesting to grab.  Watch for sharp edges and breakable objects.  For many of us, having a child proof room hasn’t been a consideration for a couple decades at least.  Trying to baby proof the whole house or apartment is a tall order, so I suggest a compromise in which you fix up one room that you know will be safe.

Make Sure You Know How to Use the Car Seat and Stroller

This suggestion isn’t as obvious as it seems.  For infants and younger toddlers, they probably still use a car seat that snaps into a base.  The base is put in the car and secured by the seat belt and the actual seat or carrier snaps into place.  You then have to push a latch to remove theGrayson in his car seat carrierCredit: BoomerBill carrier from the base.  Removing the seat with a wiggling child is not the easiest thing in the world if you haven’t watched your kid do it and tried the procedure yourself.  If you don’t try this beforehand,   you could panic when soloing.

The stroller works the same way.  The carrier snaps into it the same as it snaps into the car seat base.  Taking the baby out of the stroller is a bit easier because you can stand over it.  You don’t have the same leverage with the car seat.  Although you may not plan on driving with the little one while babysitting, something may come up that requires hitting the road and you have to be able to use the carrier and seat mechanisms on your own.

Make Sure You Have a Play Pen

My daughter has a play pen that is movable, but similar to the baby carrier, it takes some practice to set up and take down.  She brings the play pen whenever I watch Grayson.  You have to have a play pen so that you can leave the child unattended for a few moments to go to the bathroom or answer the door, etc.  Even if you plan on spending every last second with the little one, you may still have a few brief instances in which you need to keep them in a danger free zone.  That’s hard to pull off without the use of a play pen.

Grayson asleepCredit: BoomerBillMake Sure You Have Plenty of Food and Moist Wipes

My daughter always delivers Grayson with a diaper bag containing food, diapers, wipes and a change of clothes.  There always seems to be sufficient diapers, but I’ve run into problems with a lack of baby wipes and baby food.  Life is easier if you keep these things on hand.  The child proof room can hold your stock of baby wipes and food. 

I found I could still change a diaper after years without practice.  It’s not so bad when they’re tiny.  I’m having a more difficult time now that Grayson’s bigger with wiggling and grabbing capabilities.  You probably won’t have a changing table anymore, so make sure you have a towel or two close at hand for changing the little one on a chair or couch.

Know the Parents’ Preferences

My daughter has done quite a bit of reading regarding baby care.  She is “up” on the latest ideas of the best practices for baby caregiving.  She absolutely doesn’t want to hear about “this is how we did it in our day and it’s perfectly fine to do now.”  The best thing is to find out about any particular preferences before you do any babysitting, such as preferred nap time or things not to eat.  That way you won’t have an argument later after you’ve committed a mistake, even if it wasn’t a mistake when you were parenting. 

Your child will appreciate the nod of respect to his or her parenting if you ask them for theirStanding in the Play PenCredit: BoomerBill preferences.  You are acknowledging they are in charge of their child and that they are smart and responsible enough to have their own views over baby care.  Failure to follow your child’s requests could limit babysitting opportunities in the future.[2]  Giving respect to your child, the parent, will go a long way and acknowledges your evolving roles.  This dynamic is even more important if the parent who is not your child has specific preferences.  Your kid may give you a pass, their significant other probably won't.

Keep Toys and Books on Hand

You should have a basket with toys and books for the baby.  Although the parent probably drags around a toy or two to bring along for your babysitting, it’s helpful to keep some at hand to provide some new stimulation to a fussy baby.   

Babysitting your grandbaby can be fun if you’re prepared.  Be a good grandparent and be ready for your duties.  You both will benefit.

Read More about being a Grandparent