Thursday , 24 April 2014

The Magic Beans Guide for Grandparents: Our Top 3 Tips

grandpops

Do you have a new grandchild on the way? Congratulations! Of course, kids have the same basic needs as they did when your children were little, but baby gear has changed a lot – there’s so much more of it, and it’s so much better! We hope this guide will help you navigate this exciting new world with less anxiety and more joy.

Some background on our own experience in this realm: of course, we sell tons of baby gear to grandparents in our stores, and talking to our customers has given us a broad range of experience on what grandparents need and want, and what questions you’ll typically have.

And then of course there’s our own family: my wife Sheri and I are both the oldest of three children in our families, and when we had our first child when we were 24 and 25 years old, we were the first in our generation to have children, and that meant that our daughter was the first grandchild.

My parents and my in-laws are all really wonderful and supportive. We were all learning the ropes of modern parenting together – after all, we were so young ourselves. Over the past 11.5 years, we’ve had two more kids, my sister has three kids, Sheri’s sister has three kids, and we still have siblings who are not married yet, and whose additions to the family are still to come. So I know first hand how important it is for grandparents to have the right products.

With that said, here’s some advice on shopping for the new generation in your family.

Tip #1: Yes, you raised your kids with less equipment – but all of this baby gear really does make early parenthood (and grandparenthood) so much easier. 

The baby gear market as it exists today exploded just after our first child was born, so we didn’t have all of the cool products we do now. So I know from experience how much better it can be! When our second baby was born, we had Magic Beans, and baby gear became our business as well as a necessity, and we learned a lot.

A great stroller goes a long way to preserve a new parent’s sanity by enabling a new parent out of the house with their newborn. A comfortable baby carrier enables parents to get chores done around the house and get dinner on the table, even if their baby absolutely must be held for hours on end (which, as you know, is not at all uncommon). Modern car seats have amazing features that make a huge difference in safety and convenience.

So yes, strollers can be pricey, but once you get behind the handle of a truly great stroller, you’ll get it: the right gear makes such a difference in terms of quality of life. Like all other modern conveniences – smartphones and On Demand cable TV and all the other neat stuff you didn’t have when you were raising your kids – they make your life easier. So my first piece of advice is embrace modern baby products! They’re cool and fun, and they really are practical despite the sticker-shock.

Tip #2: Outfit your home for optimal visiting.

Ask any grandparent you know, and they’ll tell you that being a grandparent is the best. You’ll want to see them as often as you can, and that means smoothing the way to make visits as easy as possible. Some key products will make it easy for your children to bring the new arrival over (and they’ll be so happy when you take some basic baby duties off of their hands, so the new mom and dad can relax a bit).

puj hug infant hooded towelA) A great bath setup:  Babies need regular baths to preserve that glorious new-baby smell, and more importantly, both babies and parents love their routines. Make it easy to get baby sparkly-clean and ready for bed with these favorite products.

B) Diapers and Wipes: New parents don’t get a lot of sleep, and that leads to forgetfulness. Plus, diapers and wipes are always in use, and thus always running out.  Be the hero and have diapers and wipes stocked in your house, and you’ll get extra brownie point for having the brands that your kids use.

neo tobblesC) Toys: Babies and their parents get bored with their toy situation as home, so keep some interesting and unique toys in your house – and did I mention that we sell toys? Let us help you find the right toys to keep the grandkids busy, and which will have them eager to come back again and again to rediscover what cool toys you’ve got on hand.

Tip #3: Get products with great longevity for YOU.

Families come in all sizes: ours happens to be large, and yours may be as well. My oldest  daughter is 11, and my youngest niece is three months old. My parents and in-laws have been grandparents of babies for over 11 years, and will likely (God willing) be grandparents of babies and kids for at least another 10-20 years. So it makes sense to invest in quality products that grow with the child and will last a very long time, fitting one kid after another after another.

stokke tripp trapp high chairOne of our favorites that fits the bill perfectly is the Tripp Trapp chair. You can use it as a high chair for babies starting at six months, when baby starts solids – and it adjusts all the way up in size to become a chair big enough for an adult! It’s so easy to adjust your Tripp Trapp for grandchildren of varying ages. If you’re going to be driving around with your grandchild, a car seat is a must. Here are some car seat basics:

Infant Car Seats: These seats have a separate base, so you can click the seat off with baby on board to transfer baby to her stroller or to the house (great for napping!). If you’re taking care of your grandchild regularly, you’ll want to get a spare base that matches the primary car seat they’re already using. A Nuna Pipa car seat needs a Nuna Pipa car seat base; a Chicco Keyfit car seat needs the matching base; and so on. They’re not universal, so make sure you get the right one. We also recommend that you get your infant car seat base professionally installed by your local fire or police department, or, if you live in the Boston area, at a Magic Beans store. Base installations can be tricky, and correct installation is important for keeping babies safe.

Convertible Car Seats: After your grandchild outgrows her infant car seat, the next stage is a Convertible Car Seat, so named because it can be installed rear-facing or forward-facing. Rear-facing is safest, so it’s best to keep babies rear-racing up to the rear-facing weight limit for the seat, or at least two years. Your children will likely install their own car seat once or twice for your grandchildren, and leave it there installed, but you might not want to keep one permanently installed in your own car. For that reason I would recommend getting a Convertible car seat that is easy to install and uninstall correctly without the help every time by a certified car seat tech. I’d recommend the Clek Foonf or the Chicco NextFit – they’re two of the easiest seats to install.

You also want a good quality crib for your house. I’d recommend a Bloom Alma Papa. This is a sturdy, modern, wooden crib, but it folds easily to store with no tools needed. If you don’t want to go for a wooden crib, then consider a quality travel crib like a 4moms Breeze, a Nuna Sena, or a Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. You can read about travel cribs here. The nice thing about all of these cribs is that they are comfortable for the baby to sleep in, and they are easy to fold up and put away until the next visit. Finally, there’s the stroller! The right stroller will add so much to those early trips to the park and the zoo with the new grandkids. Here are some of my favorites:

-Baby Jogger City Mini GT: Practical and easy to fold.

-Bugaboo Donkey: Transforms from a single to a double for when you have to juggle a bunch of grandkids.

-UPPAbaby Cruz: Light, stylish, and gorgeous – treat yourself to something nice!

Of course, there’s plenty more to say about shopping for the grandkids, but let’s leave it here for now – especially since every family is different, and that’s why personalized advice is so important! So if you have any specific questions that aren’t addressed here, please contact me at eli@mbeans.com, or follow me on twitter @eligurock.

And finally: we know there are many of you out their who have had your own experiences with the essentials for grandparents and we’d love to hear your tips for newbies! Leave a comment by October 24th and enter to win a pack of Aden + Anais Washcloths and an MD Moms Bath set!

One comment

  1. I’m not a grandparent yet, but with 3 sets (step-grandparents too!) in our family and 3 kids (toddler twins and a two-year old) I’ve already learned a lot…
    I think one of the most important tips is for grandparents to become familiar with some of todays standards in terms of safety.
    1. BACK TO SLEEP. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reminded grandparents that even though I was put to bed on my stomach and I turned out okay, that studies have shown that back to sleep is the safest way to put a baby to sleep (not to mention without any blankets or pillows, too!)
    2. EXTENDED REAR FACING & 5PT HARNESS. Again, even though by age 5 many of their children weren’t riding in cars with any safety restraint, times have changed and my children rear face until at least 2 (and even longer…) and are still in 5 point harnesses past age 5 (even though my older COULD be in a booster, I choose to keep her as safe as possible).
    I’m sure there are more, but those are two off the top of my head that I feel like come up often with the grandparents!

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