The Key Baby Gear to Have at Home for When the Grandkids Come to Visit
December 10, 2021
There are few better ways to spend weekends, birthdays and holidays than in the company of your children and their children. Grandparenthood is a special time in one’s life—rather than being at the forefront of parenting, you get to sit back and enjoy those sweet cuddles. But, while you may no longer be the primary provider, it’s worth it to stock up on a few essentials before your grandchildren come to visit. After all, babies may be teeny tiny, but they require a lot of stuff! While parents can (and often do) schlep baby’s gear from place to place, why not make it easier on them by getting some stuff you can store at home for when they come over?
These can be small, space-saving and budget-friendly items like a baby thermometer, potty seat and baby utensils—it’s often the smaller stuff that goes a long way in making parents feel comfortable when it comes to traveling with baby. Plus, these items often last for years and are easy to figure out, so you won’t have to worry about deciphering the manual.
If you do opt to buy a stroller or car seat for baby to use during visits, make sure the product meets current safety standards. If you’re considering buying second-hand, know there is some gear (like car seats) that should be bought new for safety purposes.
Ready to start shopping? Below, check out some suggestions for key gear to buy before baby’s visit, broken out by category. They won’t break the bank or gobble up space, but they’ll sure come in handy.
You may recall from when your own kids were tiny tots—feeding a baby can get messy! To help keep things smooth and tidy when your grandchild is over for a visit, the following items will be helpful to have on hand.
As little ones are introduced to various types of foods, they like to touch, squish and play with their food. This is great for their development, but it can leave a bit of a mess! When it comes to mealtimes with a baby, you can never have too many bibs (or even extra changes of clothes). Instead of cloth bibs, look for silicone ones that are dishwasher-safe and feature a catch pocket to help limit the food baby spills or drops.
Our pick: Cloud Island Silicone Baby Bib (2-Pack), $10, Target.com
Baby cups and utensils
If your grandchild has started to learn how to self-feed, buy some cups, bowls and utensils that are specifically made for tiny hands. Many baby feeding products help teach crucial development skills and are soft enough to protect baby’s delicate gums and teeth. Rather than shopping for these individually, you can also buy a set of bowls, cups, plates and utensils. Opt for something that’s dishwasher-safe and sturdy enough to last a couple of years.
Our pick: EZPZ First Foods Set, $35, Target.com
Whether baby is breastfeeding or formula-feeding, it’s always helpful for parents to have access to a supply of bottles during that first year. While they may bring their own, buy a few they can use during the visit to save on packing space and time spent washing bottles. Look for ones that are easy to clean (read: few assembly pieces!).
Our pick: Comotomo 8-Ounce Baby Bottle (2-Pack), $22, Amazon.com
Collapsible high chair
Babies can start using a high chair once they’re around 6 months old. Having one in the house ensures that baby has a safe place to sit and eat (and takes the pressure off parents to bring one with them). Bonus: Many high chairs are collapsible and easy to store when baby’s not around. For safety reasons, make sure the high chair won’t tip over and has a safety harness.
Our pick: Graco Slim Snacker High Chair, $70, buybuyBABY.com
When it comes to caring for little ones, consider storing a few small baby items for the bathroom, like a baby tub, a potty seat and, of course, extra diapers! They won’t take up too much space and will go a long way in making parents feel more comfortable.
Babies go through a lot of diapers—more than you might remember! Make sure you have extra packs of diapers at home prior to your grandchild’s visit. It may be worthwhile to ask the parents about sizing and any brand preferences before making a purchase.
Our pick: The Honest Company Disposal Diapers (80 Count), $26, buybuyBABY.com
Diapers and wipes go hand-in-hand—and parents often end up using these wipes for more than just diaper changes. Ask about preferred brands before buying these, as some babies have particularly sensitive skin.
Our pick: Hello Bello Plant-Based Baby Wipes, $3 per pack, HelloBello.com
If your grandchild is starting to potty train, have a potty seat at home. Unlike potty chairs, seats go right on top of the toilet and are easier to store when not in use. This one from Munchkin is contoured to hold your grandchild in place and has handles for extra measure.
Our pick: Munchkin Sturdy Potty Seat, $11, Target.com
Collapsible baby tub
A baby bath tub can really help when it comes time to wash a small, slippery baby. Plus, many of them have slings that can be taken out once baby can sit up on their own, allowing for longer use. To save on space, consider a collapsible option that can easily be put away.
Our pick: Skip Hop Moby Reclined Bath Tub, $30, Amazon.com
There are some ordinary adult things you can get away with using for baby (a tea spoon for feeding, a hand towel for a burp cloth), but shampoo is not one of them. When it’s time for a tub, you’ll need something that’s tear-free and formulated for delicate baby skin. These days, most baby shampoos double as body wash, so you don’t need to worry about getting separate bottles. Before buying, check in to see if the parents have a preferred brand that suits baby best.
Our pick: Pipette Baby Shampoo and Wash, $8, PipetteBaby.com
Arguably some of the most important gear to keep at home is for baby’s sleep. You want to make sure baby has a safe sleeping environment and the right tools to stay asleep. The entire household will thank you.
A portable crib ensures baby has a safe place to sleep. According to the AAP, babies should sleep on their backs on a firm surface without any loose bedding or toys in the crib. Make sure the crib you choose is easy to assemble, storable and will be able to provide long-term use as baby grows.
Our pick: Graco Pack ‘n Play On-the-Go Playard, $75, buybuyBABY.com
Baby monitors today now have video, WiFi and app components that let you watch baby from anywhere. Several even track how well baby is sleeping! But to be honest, you don’t need to buy a super high-tech monitor for those occasional visits with the grandkids—just get one that let’s you and the parents reliably keep track of baby stress-free.
Our pick: Babysense Compact Video Monitor, $65, Walmart.com
When it comes to babies, you can bet they’re going to need an outfit change (or three) at some point in the day. Parents will likely bring baby’s clothes with them, but having an extra pack of socks, onesies and pajamas can cut down on packing (and loads of laundry). Opt formultipacks for affordable, efficient shopping, and check in with the parents to see what size is best.
Our pick: Carter’s White Long-Sleeve Bodysuits (4-Pack), $13, Carters.com
Pacifiers can help soothe a baby that’s fussy, overstimulated or having trouble sleeping. And as any parent will tell you, they have a tendency to disappear. Help avoid a crisis by keeping a stash at the ready. If you’re confused about which options to buy, check in to see if baby has a preferred pacifier type and brand.
Our pick: Dr. Brown’s Happy Paci (3-Pack), $5, Amazon.com
Sound machines are great for helping babies sleep. Not only does the white noise remind them of the womb, but it also helps to reduce any other household or street noise. Just make sure that the machine is placed far enough away from baby that they can’t pull at the cords and that the volume stays under 50 decibels.
Our pick: Yogasleep Hushh Portable Sound Machine, $30, Target.com
Regardless of how long and how often your grandchildren come to visit, it’s always nice to have a few toys and books handy to keep them entertained. While you may pull out the books and toys your own kids joyfully used for play (just check for loose parts and other safety hazards!), consider shopping for a few new ones too—there are tons on the market that offer great developmental and learning opportunities.
Babies love to be bounced, but sooner or later you’re going to need your arms back! Enter baby bouncers. They’re a safe place to keep infants contained and happily entertained, leaving caregivers to focus on other tasks, like cleaning up after a family meal. Look for one that folds for easy storage.
Our pick: Baby Delight Deluxe Portable Bouncer, $90, Target.com
Toys offer endless amusement for kids, all while aiding their development. While baby will likely travel with their favorite lovey or stuffed animal, it’s useful to have some toys set aside that they can peruse come play time.
Our pick: Fisher-Price Baby’s First Blocks and Rock-a-Stack Set, $13, Walmart.com
Reading with little ones is a great way to spend some time together indoors or before bed (and is critical for their developing language skills). If you have some books saved from your own parenting days, definitely share them with your grandchildren—it’ll create a special bonding opportunity across generations. If you’re looking for new reads, there are plenty of children’s books to choose from, from tried-and-true classics to newer stories.
Our pick: Eric Carle Six Classic Board Books Box Set, $30, Target.com
It’s a good idea to do a basic safety sweep of your home and babyproof what you reasonably can. Another good move? Purchase a few key items that can be a lifesaver—literally—for when baby is exploring the house or fighting off an illness.
Baby gates are a must if baby is crawling or starting to walk and your home has stairs and doorless rooms that could be dangerous, such as kitchens and home gyms. A gate will allow your grandbaby to safely explore your space and you to enjoy the visit without that added worry…
Our pick: Perma Child Safety Retractable Gate, $48, Amazon.com
A thermometer is a staple in any medicine cabinet, but that under-the-tongue thermometer you use when you’re feeling sick isn’t going to work for an infant. A rectal reading will give you the most accurate temperature; forehead and underarm readings are also good for screening for fevers. Our suggestion? Opt for a thermometer that can take baby’s temperature in multiple ways.
Our pick: Kinsa Smart Thermometer, $25, Walmart.com
Just like thermometers, Infant Tylenol is another medicine cabinet must-have to combat fevers, teething pain and other discomforts in young children. Be sure to brush up on the correct dosage amounts based on baby’s weight.
Our pick: Infant Tylenol, $6, Walmart.com
While having some basic baby essentials at home is a great way to prepare for when the grandkids visit, remember that the essentials baby will need (and when) will vary. The best way to ensure you’re getting the right gear at the right time is to reach out to the parents. Ask them what products they use, what they would like to have for visits and about any preferences in brands. It’ll go a long way in making sure baby stays safe and everyone feels more comfortable.