Grandparents can learn a lot about what parents need by following helpful social media accounts aimed at parents.
Don’t you hate it when your social media feed is full of ads that make it seems like they are listening to your conversations, or even your thoughts? They claim they aren’t listening, but it’s hard to believe when you are near someone talking about their ski trip and the next time you open Facebook there is an ad for Park City.
I do know that much of it depends on the accounts you follow. I’m constantly getting targeted on Instagram with ads aimed at parents, even though my days of needing breast pumps are long gone. It’s understandable though, because I follow more than a few accounts that are aimed at parents.
I think you should, too.
It’s incredibly helpful to see what parents are being bombarded with. By following accounts that are aimed at parents, we can keep up with what they are seeing. This means that instead of having to ask why they are doing something different from the way we did it, we can just step in with support if needed.
What are the newest gadgets, both useful and absurd? What’s the latest research on screen time or fluoride or the power of nature? What are the emerging theories on feeding/sleeping/playing? Why are car seat recommendations so different now than they were 5, 10, 20 years ago?
No matter which social media platform you spend time on, there are great parent-focused accounts to follow. I like Instagram, because it’s easier to see what I want to see and avoid what I don't. Here are some of the Instagram accounts I find incredibly useful:
For all things safety related, @safebeginnings is a gold mine of information. @safeintheseat is the best for information about car seat safety.
@pedsdoctalk shares valuable content about pediatric health and more.
The content @growing.intuitive.eaters shares about helping children have a healthy relationship with food is entertaining and educational.
@likeasistersupport keeps me in the loop about the needs of new parents with research-based information on feeding and more, and @resttoyournest has taught me a lot about current sleep theories.
I’ve learned so much about new ways of parenting from @toryhalpin, and you will, too!
If your grandchildren are neurodivergent or just high-spirited, follow one or all of these: @maryvangeffen, @copingskillsforkids and @benjamin.mizrahi.
To learn more about the struggles parents are facing with burnout and more, follow @runtellmom and @feminist.mom.therapist.
Following a wide range of informational accounts will enable you to be more supportive of parents. Just remember, you are trying to understand parents better, not educate them with what you learn. Depending on your relationship, you may be able to share an account or post without causing offense. Here are some ways to approach it if you want to share a post.
When sharing an account, you can first see if parents are already following it. If they aren’t, you can say something like: “I stumbled across this account and it seems to have really great information. Thought I’d share!”
Be wary of misinformation, which is abundant on social media. Before sharing something from a source you haven’t checked out completely, do a little research. When I see something I’m unfamiliar with, like a claim that high fructose corn syrup is banned in other countries, I always try to learn more about it by verifying it with independent sources. (Turns out it’s not, it’s just labeled differently—thanks, @foodsciencebabe.)
Finally, make sure that you aren’t sharing things too often. Save it for when there is something really worthwhile, and use the opportunity to open up a conversation.
Are you more of a Facebook or TikTok user? Let me know in the comments and I’ll suggest accounts on those platforms for you to follow!
Making sure immunizations are up-to-date is one of the things expectant grandparents should put on their to-do list.
I found myself needing a new primary care physician when my grandson was about a year old. After a long search I found a doctor who seemed to have all the qualities I was looking for. At our first appointment, she put me at ease immediately as we chatted about why I was looking for a new physician. Then she reviewed my health history, and said with clear surprise, “I don’t see a recent DtaP booster on your record. Didn’t you need one to visit your grandson?”
It had never occurred to me that I should be getting vaccine boosters to protect my newborn grandchildren, and my last doctor hadn’t ever mentioned it. Nor did my son or his wife bring it up, probably assuming I was as boosted as I needed to be. I’ve since learned that getting immunizations is one of the things expectant grandparents should put on their to-do list.
Remember, I’m not a health professional and this is not medical advice. Rather, I’m providing this information for you to discuss with your own health care provider.
Why do grandparents need immunizations?
Newborns can’t be immunized from some of the highly contagious diseases for which we have vaccines. At the same time, those diseases are incredibly dangerous in a child that young. The best way to protect them is by making sure the people around them are vaccinated and boosted, so that there is almost no chance they can pass along a preventable illness.
I saw this first hand when my son contracted measles when he was a year old. He wasn’t due for the immunization for another few months, and watching his limp little body fight off a serious disease was frightening. I firmly believe that anyone who is anti-vaccine has never seen their child seriously ill.
Which immunizations do grandparents need?
Here’s a list of the most important immunizations for grandparents. Even if you’ve been vaccinated against some of them in the past, you may need a booster. Talk to your doctor about the following:
TdaP At the top of the list is the TdaP, which protects you and your grandchild from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Since diphtheria is incredibly rare, and tetanus isn’t contagious, the big concern is pertussis. Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is both highly contagious and extremely serious. About half of the babies who contract pertussis end up in the hospital, and the mortality rate babies under six weeks old is over 30%. Some hospitals don’t allow visitors to the birthing wing without proof of current vaccination.
MMR It's also important to make sure your MMR is up-to-date. Measles, mumps and rubella are all preventable illnesses that can have make a baby very sick. Of these, the biggest concern is measles. Though the death rate for measles is low, the potential long-term effects can be devastating: it can cause brain damage, deafness, or a truly frightening disease called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). (Which I’m really glad I hadn’t read about before researching this article, or I would have spent a lot of years worrying after my son had measles.)
Pneumonia & flu You’ll also want to get a pneumonia vaccine for pneumococcal diseases, as bacterial pneumonia in infants is serious and can cause life-threatening infections of the blood, brain and spinal cord. Since bacterial pneumonia is also dangerous for older adults, you’ll be protecting yourself as well. The same hold true for influenza—you are protecting both yourself and your infant grandchild against an illness that can be serious.
Shingles While babies can’t get shingles, they could contract chickenpox from someone infected with shingles. The newer Shingrix vaccine cannot transmit the virus the way the older, live vaccine did, so there is no danger of giving your grandchild chickenpox after being vaccinated.
Covid-19 While Covid-19 has so far shown to be relatively mild in babies, getting this vaccine is important to protect yourself and the rest of your community.
When should grandparents get vaccines?
As soon as you know there’s a baby on the way, you’ll want to check with your doctor about what shots you need. It takes time for your body to build immunity, and some vaccines require more than one dose to provide full protection. Your doctor can go over your health history and make sure you have all the immunizations you need to protect both yourself and your new grandchild.
Protecting our grandchildren is one of our most basic instincts, and getting immunized is an important way to do it. For more information, please speak with your own health care team.
What Else Grandparents Need To Know:
It’s tempting for grandparents to buy too many gifts for their grandchildren, especially when they don’t see them often. The main reason I don’t might surprise you.
I was having lunch last year with a friend whose second grandbaby had just been born. When we finished lunch, she mentioned that she had to pop into the boutique next door to get gifts before she went to visit her grandchildren the following week.
“What’s the occasion?” I asked her.
“No special occasion—I just always bring them something when I come visit!”
I didn’t want to rain on her parade, so I just smiled and accompanied her to the boutique, which was almost certainly designed specifically to appeal to grandmothers. It was full of adorable toys and clothes and books and gadgets, all artfully displayed and temptingly priced.
I won’t tell you what she bought, but I was a little shocked by the pile of things she accumulated as we browsed. When I saw the size of the bag she carried when we left the store, I briefly wondered if I should share my own philosophy about bringing gifts when I visit.
I decided against it, but I’ll share it with you now:
I don’t bring my grandchildren gifts when I come visit.
One reason is that they have enough stuff, and their parents don’t want any more.
Another reason, let’s face it, is that I’m cheap and hate throwing away money on things that will quickly be cast aside.
But neither of these are my main motivation.
My main reason for arriving without presents is so that my grandchildren remain excited to see me. I don’t want to be greeted with, “What did you bring me?” I want the focus to be on each other, and not what may be tucked away in my purse or hiding in my suitcase.
What I do sometimes bring: a book we’ve been reading together, so they can see it in real life and we can pour over the pictures side-by-side. Recently, it may be a chapter book we are in the middle of, that I’ll finish while we are visiting. Or maybe I’ll bring a game we can play together, one that I’ll likely take back home so we can enjoy it at our house when they come visit us.
When he remembers, Pops brings treasure: a fake jewel and a pirate doubloon for each of them, which he’ll leave under their pillow to be discovered when we leave. This way, it’s a reminder of our visit, and a way to soften our departure.
What do we always bring? We bring hugs and time to give our full attention to these small people and their parents (who sometimes do get presents when we come, like tea and chocolate and books!). While I may change my strategy as my grandkids get older, for now, I don’t bring them gifts.
When I come to visit, I consider the visit itself a gift—to all of us. And when I arrive, I usually hear these words, “DeeDee! I missed you so much!”
You May Also Enjoy:
As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a commission for purchases made through links on this site, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping to keep this site ad-free.
A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being A Grandparent Today
One thing many grandparents overlook in their excitement over becoming a grandparent is how it changes the relationship with their adult children. The rules and habits of decades must be entirely re-shaped—sometimes quite suddenly. If there is any tension in the relationship, this change can amplify it.
Unconditional Love is a must read for all grandparents who want to ensure they are tending to the relationship with their grandchild’s parents. It will help you understand the complicated family dimensions that are created when a new baby arrives. Whether you have a strong and wonderful relationship with your child and their partner or not, Isay provides solid advice for forming the bond you wish to form with your grandchildren.
Her acknowledgement of the conflicts, problems and politics of family life provides a framework for creating a healthy relationship with your grandchildren and their parents. Through interviews, research and her own experience, Isay provides plenty of food for thought for anyone who wants to make the most of being a grandparent.
If you are just starting your grandparent journey, or are a veteran grandparent who is experiencing any tension in your relationship with your adult children, this book is a must-read. You can likely find a copy at your local library, but it’s well worth buying, as it will be a useful reference in the years to come.
Purchase a copy now from Amazon.
(Did you know that if you make a purchase from Amazon through our links, we get a small commission even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra? That money goes to help cover the cost of creating and maintaining everything More Than Grand does. It’s an easy way for you to help keep our website up and running, and we appreciate your support!)
Choosing a grandmother or grandfather nickname is just the first step in establishing a healthy habit of respect and communication between parents and grandparents.
It took me by surprise when one of my readers admitted that she hated the grandma nickname her daughter-in-law had chosen for her. She shared that she was afraid to rock the boat, so she just accepted it despite her discomfort.
I was so sad for her: sad that she should feel so powerless in something so personal. And I was a little confused, too. Was it common for the parent’s to choose the grandparent’s nickname? I thought that part of the fun of becoming a grandparent was figuring out what you wanted to be called!
So I did a little poll and discovered that over 10% of the grandparents who responded have a name that the parents chose. Luckily, most of them are fine with it.
One follower, Andrea, said she had some input, suggesting a name she liked but letting the parents make the final choice.
Christie said her grandchild’s parents gave her a few options, and once the baby started talking, they agreed on the right name. “I just did not want Meemaw, that was my only rule!”
In both of these cases, though the grandmothers didn’t make the final choice, they were included in the decision process. That wasn’t how it happened with Connie, who was told that the baby would call her…Connie. She was crushed not to be allowed to be called Nana, as she’d always imagined. She was also more than a little taken aback by the idea of being called her first name by her grandchild.
Most parents, however, feel it’s up to the grandparents to choose—with the possibility of parental veto if it makes them uncomfortable. Parents have told stories about grandmothers who want to be called Momma, or who choose a name they feel is ridiculous and then get upset when they refuse to use it. One parent said the name her father-in-law wanted to be called was the name of her own grandfather, with whom she had a complicated and unpleasant relationship. Her father-in-law was more than happy to choose a name without any negative baggage.
Like everything else, the only time it is a problem is when parents or grandparents don’t feel they can talk to one another about the subject. Connie was afraid that if she kicked up a fuss, her daughter-in-law would cut her off before the baby even arrived. One new mom said her own mother insists on a name she finds so silly that she’s never been able to bring herself to say it out loud. Instead of having a conversation together, both of these families have defaulted to “Don’t talk about it (and maybe it will go away).”
Choosing a grandmother or grandfather nickname is just the first step in establishing a healthy habit of respect and communication between parents and grandparents. Smart grandparents will say, “I’d like to be called ______, but I’d like to know what you think.” And smart parents will ask the grandparents what they’d like to be called.
If you are still trying to find the perfect nickname, have you downloaded our list of 242 Grandmother Names? It’s got lots of ideas, plus tips on finding the right one for you!
For what it’s worth, I completely agree with the mom who vetoed “Momma”, but I’m less sure about vetoing a name just because you think it’s ridiculous. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
I received a complimentary copy of Grandparenting on Purpose from the author, in exchange for an honest review. As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a commission for purchases made through links on this site, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping to keep this site ad-free.
“To be purposeful is to be focused and intentional in your grandparenting. You are clear about what you are trying to contribute to your grandchildren’s happiness and how you hope to be useful to them and their parents.”
M. Winston Egan and Linda Egan, authors of
Grandparenting on Purpose: Fresh Ideas, Activities and Traditions for Connecting with Grandchildren Near and Far
The Egans could be considered professional grandparents, with 22 grandchildren when their book was published, and they confess that they are a little “over the top” in their grandparenting. It is clearly a calling of the highest priority in this season of their lives, and this book is proof of their dedication to that calling. Grandparenting on Purpose is packed with ideas for connecting, and connecting genuinely and deeply. While not everyone is prepared to list grandparent as their primary job title, the Egans have much to teach those who may be more casual in their approach.
Grandparenting on Purpose will be especially helpful for those with older grandchildren. For example, the chapter entitled “Discovering the Needs of Your Grandchildren and Parents” has excellent ideas for connecting, but most really apply to children of school age and above. New grandparents will find plenty of inspiration for the years to come, but perhaps less that they can immediately apply.
Other chapters are dedicated to traditions, routines, and family themes, with in-depth explanations of the Egans’ own family’s practices. Peppered with feedback from their grandchildren, it’s clear that the traditions and activities they’ve initiated over the years have had a positive impact on their family. As they share what has worked for them, they also provide suggestion for implementing their ideas with your children and grandchildren. Each chapter ends with prompts for you to reflect and record, helping you to organize your thoughts and decide how to apply what you’ve read to your own family.
Grandparenting on Purpose has a distinctly Christian perspective, with occasional references to prayer and faith throughout the book. Some readers may find that is foreign to their own family experience. However, if you are looking for ideas for sharing your faith with your grandchildren, the chapter on building spirituality can be applied to any faith.
If you’ve created a Grand Plan through New Grandparent Essentials, and your intention is to be a fully-present influence on your grandchild’s life, Grandparenting on Purpose should be on your shelf to refer to in the years to come. (And if you haven't yet taken time to reflect on what your goals as a grandparent are, there's no better time than now!)
Order a copy of Grandparenting on Purpose from Amazon.
Play your part in setting and keeping grandparent boundaries
When her first grandbaby was born, Jackie was thrilled to be close enough to help out. Her daughter, Lizzie, was thrilled, too. Having mom around to help with laundry, soothe the baby and keep the family fed was a godsend.
Until it wasn’t.
One day, when Jackie stopped by, Lizzie had just gotten the baby to sleep and was looking forward to some time alone. Instead, she found herself listening to her mom’s cheerful chatter until the baby woke up. Because she was so grateful for the help she’d been getting, she found it hard to tell her mother that she needed some space now.
Jackie’s visits continued as the baby grew, often coming at inconvenient times. The more time that went by, the harder it was for Lizzie to speak up. One day, she snapped at Jackie, who had no idea what the problem was. Unkind words passed between them, causing the first rift they’d experienced since Lizzie was a teen. After days of struggling with hurt feelings, they finally sat down together to talk about boundaries.
Grandparents: know the boundaries and keep them
Boundaries around visits and helping will look different in every family. Where some new parents will want their entire extended family at the birth, others want no visitors for a month. Some parents want to do everything with minimal help, while others welcome all the hands and laps they can get.
While many parents are clear about the boundaries they need to keep, others have trouble speaking up to grandparents. Worse, some grandparents don’t respect boundaries even if parents spell them out.
Boundaries are the cornerstone of a healthy parent-grandparent relationship. No matter what the new parents have communicated, here are some tips for new grandparents that will make sure you are a welcome visitor.
Don’t show up unannounced. Even if you’ve been in the habit of dropping in on your son and daughter-in-law in the past, now is the time to stop. Always call or text to see when or if a visit is welcome, and be willing to accommodate their schedule. While it may be frustrating that you can’t stop by after work, supporting new parents often means putting their needs and desires ahead of your own.
Come to an agreement in advance, and check in regularly to see if it’s working. Before the baby is even born, talk to parents about how involved they’d like you to be. So often, tensions rise because a grandparent’s expectations differ from a parent’s. Misunderstandings can be avoided by discussing some of the common areas of disagreement. New Grandparent Essentials includes an entire section to help facilitate your discussion, with conversation starters and advice on establishing a supportive partnership with parents.
Respect new parents’ need for time alone. New parents need time alone, and time alone together. If the baby is sleeping when you arrive for a planned visit, ask if you should come back another time. This can be tricky if you are visiting to help with a new baby, but make sure you give new parents time without your presence. Make a grocery run, take a long walk after dinner, or go hang out at the library. Even if your visit is short, you are more likely to be invited back if you respect their space.
Remember you are not a co-parent. With a few exceptions, grandparents are experienced parents, and they are eager to share their expertise. Sometimes the son- or daughter-in-law feels sidelined by a grandmother who takes on the role of co-parent. Especially if it’s your daughter who has had a baby, make sure you aren’t crowding out her partner in your eagerness to help. Step back and let them figure it out together.
Respect privacy. While this is your grandbaby, there will still be parts of its life that will be off limits to you. Let parents take the lead in what they want to share, and how much they want to integrate you into their home. Nursing mothers may not want an audience, and some parents don’t want you taking photos of the baby being bathed. Be sensitive to their wishes.
Being a grandparent is a supporting role, and that means you will often be watching the star of the show from the wings. The best way to avoid real-life drama is to know when it’s your turn on stage, and when the director wants you to fade into the background.
Read more about boundaries:
Six popular books about body image that my grandchildren and I all loved—and one we didn’t
As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping to keep this site ad-free.
Books can be highly beneficial in helping our grandchildren feel good about their bodies. Lists of books about body image abound, but we were looking for ones that had positive messages and were fun to read. Here are our top picks:
I Like Me! by Nancy Carlson focuses on self-acceptance. The simple, colorful pictures held my grandchildren’s attention, and the message was clear enough for the toddler in the group. I’d rate this as the top book in the category of body positivity for children from 1-3 years-old.
Order it now on Amazon.
What I Like About Me! By Allia Zobel-Nolan, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto, celebrates the differences among us, like freckles and big ears, curly hair and unibrows. It ends with a mirror and the words “What is it you like best about YOU?” This was the book that the 4-year-old requested I have next time she visits, though I'm pretty sure it was mostly because of the mirror.
Order it now on Amazon.
Rot, the Cutest in the World! By Ben Clanton shares the message that being cute is in the eye of the beholder. The humor delighted the 6-year-old, while the 2- & 4-year-olds liked the actual cute animals in the book more than Rot, the mutant potato who won the cuteness contest. Does this mean they missed the message?
Order it now on Amazon.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo.
This one was pleasing to read out loud—it’s a lovely, lyrical poem about all the things a child is capable of doing and being. The language and pictures captivated all of the children, but none of them picked it as their favorite. Still, it's powerful in its depiction of children of every size, shape and color.
Order it now on Amazon.
Rock What Ya Got by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Kerascoët, was another book with rhyming verse. It was fun to read because of the peppy beat and positive message, and the kids wanted to pour over the pictures. The message, that instead of changing you should embrace what you already are, could be lost on the youngest kids; I’d recommend it for those five and up.
Order it now on Amazon.
Abigail the Whale by Davide Cali, illustrated by Sonja Bougaeva, was definitely our favorite. Unlike most the other books in this category, Abigail the Whale actually tells a story. The message is still clear: there’s power in your mindset, and it can help you celebrate your differences, overcome your fears, and protect you from the hurtful words of others. The pictures are simply beautiful, and the story is engaging enough to warrant a request to hear it twice in a row.
Order it now on Amazon.
THE ONE WE DIDN'T LIKE
Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is included on every body positivity list I found. I respectfully disagree with them all, and here’s why:
The main character, who has red hair “and something worse…FRECKLES!” hates her freckles because everyone teases her about them. The main message of the book is that even though she has these bad freckles, people still like her and she grows up and is able to find happiness. Rather than sending a positive message about freckles, the book makes it clear that they are a trial that can be overcome. The only message she gets from an adult in the book is that maybe her freckles will go away when she’s older.
As someone who was also called “Freckleface Strawberry”, I would have hated to read this as a child and discover that I was supposed to hope they went away. Instead, at roughly the same age as the character in the book, I encountered an adult who told me, “A face without freckles is like a sky without stars.” He made me feel like they were something special, and I've never wished them away.
Let's share books with our children that make them feel good about themselves! And if you missed our post about What Grandparents Need to Know About Body Image, go read it now!