Do you believe in love at first sight? It's a common phenomenon with grandbabies. The first cry makes you appreciate the miracle of creation. The first look jump-starts your heart into a lifelong love affair … once you're smitten, you're pretty well stuck. That's why seeing the baby is vital: visual imprinting makes a difference! The more time you spend with your grandchild early on, the closer you'll feel to that child as he or she grows up, when compared with grandchildren you saw less often.
A word of warning before you rush to the hospital to hold the newborn: beware of mummy's possessiveness. Breastfeeding guarantees a certain amount of intimacy, but that might not be enough. Your daughter or daughter-in-law may expect you to help out with the new baby by helping out with the house: you know, the laundry, the meals — the yucky stuff. The fact is, you may not realise how much you want that baby to yourself until you see it, but you need to wait your turn for the baby. Soon, the new mother will be only too happy to let you soothe that baby.
If you are unable to meet the baby right away or to stay for any amount of time, you have many other ways to bond with your new grandchild:
Ask your daughter or daughter-in-law if you could give them a photograph of you (holding the baby, ideally) to put in the nursery. Babies love faces - yours will become familiar and welcome.
Plastic key rings are a popular infant toy, and at least one brand includes indestructible photo frames. Such a key ring is the perfect gift for a teething infant, and it helps develop tactile skills. Recognizing your picture and those of others she loves will be a bonus.
You can address the olfactory sense by sending a scarf or comfort blanket with your scent. Wear it, sleep with it, add a dash of your perfume, and the baby will know whenever you are near.
Another fun way to bond is through sound. Send an audio tape of your favourite lullaby for baby to listen to at bedtime; on the flip side, record nursery rhymes for playtime. Sing those tunes on the telephone and in person, and you'll be regarded as the special friend you are - Grandma or Grandpa.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.