Preparing Grandparents for Young Holiday Guests
The essentials of caring for a small child are basic: provide a place to sleep, keep them safe, feed them and clean them up. Packing for these needs is not so simple. If you are taking your new bundle over the river and through the woods during the holiday season, prepping the grandparents' nest in advance can ease a bit of your physical packing weight and the stress of forgetting something important.
The item likely to take up the most space is a pack-and-play. If it is realistic for your hosts to have a crib or pack-and-play available, it will reduce your load. Dr. Janelle White, a pediatrician at University Pediatrics in Charlotte, recommends that parents and grandparents be aware of current crib safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission when considering sleeping accommodations. The website, cpsc.gov, also lists safety considerations for borrowing pack-and-plays.
A night-light in the room is an easy addition for grandparents to provide, but be sure to take along that familiar blanket, stuffed animal or favorite sleeping companion to help a child adjust.
Sarah Viar, a Fuquay-Varina mom to two boys, ages 1 and 2, says she never leaves home for trips without her boys' "loveys" packed.
Safety is at the forefront of parents' minds and extends beyond sleeping arrangements. If your little one is moving, translate what that means for hosts.
"Get things off the floor and put breakables away," says Lisa Nevalainen, mom to a 1-year-old. "Cover outlets, find gates for stairs."
Gloria Phillips, a grandmother of six children under age 3, relates. "We didn't do too much for newborns, but had to baby proof as they became mobile," she says.
Feeding paraphernalia changes based on your child's age, as well. Lori Leeke, who breast-feeds, appreciates a chair in a private room to feed her baby. Other mothers may prefer to bring a cover. If bottles are used for formula or breast milk, having a bottle brush and drying rack at your destination is indispensable.
If your baby is eating solid foods, ask the grandparents to stock a few bowls, spoons and cups.
"It is a huge thing for me knowing I don't have to pack bottles or sippy cups," Viar says. She also suggests using a travel chair that can be folded and stored rather than a bulky high chair.
A washcloth, towel and baby wash will come in handy for post-feeding messes. Consider passing along the name of a baby-friendly laundry detergent, as well.
Not everything is necessary for each situation. Consider what items will be the most helpful based on your trip length and whether you'll arrive by car or plane. Remind your destination hosts that consignment shops have items at a fraction of the cost, and that diapers and wipes are easy to buy and greatly appreciated.
There's no way to completely avoid packing more when you're traveling with a small child, but having a few key items at your destination will help everyone enjoy their time together.
Rebecca Vincent is a mom to one, a freelance writer and a road warrior.
For more ways to make holildays fun, visit our Thanksgiving Guide to the Triangle, where you'll find easy recipes and crafts for kids, tips to set a festive children's table, holiday festivities, like Santa visits, carriage rides and parades, and more.