Between 4 and 9 months is the ideal time to leave your baby with their grandparents. Your little one is less dependent on breastmilk, and separation anxiety hasn’t kicked in yet. However, this depends greatly on an already established bond between your baby and the grandparents.
Mom needs to take short breaks from parenting every so often but being away from your baby can play havoc on your emotions; after all, no one knows your little one quite like you.
For many moms, leaving little ones overnight with their grandparents is something moms would rather procrastinate about. Truth be told, mom and dad are living proof of their parent’s flawed child raising ability, and avoiding a repeat lays heavy on the mind, but so too does a much-needed break from 24/7 parenting. When, if ever, is the ideal time?
There is a lot to consider when contemplating leaving your little one overnight with the old folks. We will shed some light on why grandparents should and shouldn’t be considered for this all-important task.
Your baby’s needs come first
When grandparents are involved, your baby’s needs are all important, but they do not all stack up on the same level of importance. Some needs like love and affection will overshadow other stipulations like sticking to a bath routine. Yes, it’s important to maintain a degree of normalcy, and moms are right to insist on compliance.
Leaving your little one with the grandparents can be scary for some moms. All the hard work establishing a healthy daily routine for their little one will be dashed by their over-loving parents. This is one of the big hurdles that many mothers face when deciding to have their parents look after junior overnight or for a day or two.
If you are still breastfeeding and don’t have a formula alternate for feeding, then an overnight stay or longer may pose issues. Do you have enough stored expressed breast milk (fresh and frozen) to last the time you anticipate being away from your baby? If not, it’s best to reschedule your getaway.
The first three months of a baby’s life are when they are at their most vulnerable, and any type of escape should still see you close enough to respond to any crisis that may arise. A movie or dinner date with your spouse is fine and these few hours away actually teach your little one about the concept of permanence.
With babies younger than 3 months, their health is always a big concern as these little ones can develop a fever within a few hours. For this reason and because their diet is solely mom’s breastmilk, it stands to reason that mom should be ever-present.
If you are considering leaving your baby in the care of your parents overnight or longer, it is best to plan your trip when your little one is between 4 and 9 months old.
At about 4 months, your baby will begin with solids and perhaps switch to a formula that reduces the dependency on breastmilk. Separation anxiety only kicks in after your baby is 9 months old, so your heart won’t be shredded to pieces as you walk out the door.
Conflict over parenting style
Let’s face it, very few adults are 100% happy with their upbringing. This notion can cause emotional stress when deciding on whether to trust these “failed” parents to take care of your little one, even if it’s just for a few hours.
This internal conflict centers around parenting style. You believe that you are the best parent for your baby because you know your little one better than anyone, and rightfully so, but grandparents often get judged too harshly. If anyone loves your baby as much as you, it will most likely be the grandparents on both sides of the family.
To ease your anxiety about one day having to depend on “the grandparents” to take of your baby, you have to begin building a bond between your baby and your parents.
Have them come over on regular visits and use the time to couch them into your parenting style. You may end up learning a thing or two in this trust-building process.
With frequent visits from your parents, your baby will recognize them as caregivers, which beats getting a stranger to babysit in your absence. When your parents’ visit, use the opportunity to see how your mom cares for your baby and take up the role of a non-active guide.
You want to see how well your little one relates to your parents. You will notice an abundance of caring, love, and affection, which is what your baby thrives on besides food.
When are grandparents not the ideal choice?
Age and health are the two issues to keep in mind, yet what is also important is the bond between your parents and your little one. Here are some concerns:
- Eyesight and hearing: If your mom is hard at hearing, then picking up on your baby’s cues early can be an issue. Poor eyesight may also pose unnecessary risks with attention to detail. Grandparents must be able to identify possible hazards like electrical cords or small items that pose a choking risk. Reading labels on medication and food preparation instructions is especially important.
- Health issues: Grandparents with medical conditions that limit their movements or pose serious risks like high blood pressure shouldn’t be saddled with the stress of taking care of a baby. They should be physically able to care for your baby.
- Serious health issues: Conditions like Dementia or Alzheimer’s should rule out caring for your baby.
- Less serious health conditions: Being forgetful or losing track of time is common among older people and the severity of these traits must never-the-less be considered.
As you can see, health is the number one concern that will sway your decision to let your parents care for your baby. If you’re unsure about leaving your little one with your parents, it’s sometimes best to follow your gut feelings but by all means, have them visit as often as possible.
Grandparents as the ideal choice
Most grandparents will shower your little one with love and affection, and yes, they will spoil your little one rotten, but they will always act in your child’s best interest. You can rest assured that your parents will take good care of your little one in your absence.
Do you fear that all the spoiling your parents do will upset the bond you have with your little one? In the grand scheme of things, the time grandparents spend with their grandchildren are but fleeting moments that will have little impact on the bond you have with your child, so no need to worry too much.
Grandparents can be more patient and emotionally stable than stressed-out mothers with hundreds of dos and don’ts running through her head while trying to maintain a liveable home environment. As long as there is a solid home foundation and grandparents appreciate the boundaries you have set for your little one, your baby will be just fine.
Many grandparents are still young and in good health, and they may have all the time in the world to spend with you and your family. As a mother, when you need to talk to someone, don’t you phone your mom or dad?
When you need help, your parents are always there for you so, by drawing your parents into your child’s life, you are giving them such a wonderful gift. The words honor and trust come to mind.
Being social creatures focused on family units, it is part of being human to include grandparents in the life of their grandchildren. It gives them a sense of family unity and purpose. The bond grandparents create with their grandchildren is unique, but it will never threaten the bond you have with your child.
Will my little one be fine in my mother’s care?
Yes, babies and toddlers are very adaptable. They will know that granny is not their parent, but they will be just fine as long as they are well looked after. As long as there is already familiarity and comfort in granny’s company, you should have no concerns.
Is it okay to leave my special needs child with my parents?
It depends on what type of care your child needs and whether your parents are able and willing to take responsibility for caring for your child. If your parents agree and can take care of your little one, then begin with a few hours at a time before you try an overnight or longer visit. I’m sure if your parents are up to it, your little one will get the best care they deserve.
I have a stormy relationship with my parents, but they want to spend time with my little one. What should I do?
There are so many answers to this question, but without details, I’m reluctant to assume the context of a “stormy relationship”; however, it’s important to try and mend your relationship with your parents.
A few counseling sessions may help identify the issues that plague the relationship. The fact that your parents want to have a relationship with your child can be viewed as a good sign as long as their motives are pure.
Leave nothing to chance but do make an effort to mend your stormy relationship with your parents. Your child will benefit from developing a relationship with your parents.
This might be a good opportunity to teach your child about relationships.
To many families, grandparents are an integral part of the family when it comes to caring for the little ones. Although there will always be some disagreements, you can be sure that your child will be in capable hands and showered with love and affection.
As some would say, grandparents benefit from child-raising experience or hindsight. They may not be your perfect choice to leave your child with, but if there is already a relationship between the old folks and your little one, you’re off to a good start.
You once again have to trust your parents to do right with your little one. So be firm on your rules but appreciate your parents’ love for your little one.