Moms Columns & Blogs

Grandparents clash with parents over care

Q: My husband's parents help take care of my daughter while we work. They think that since she recently turned 1, she should not have a pacifier and that it is time to potty-train her. How can I convince them that she is just a baby and cannot make all these changes at once? I'd rather she be in day care, but my husband is opposed to that. - a mother in Charlotte

Take Dr. Spock's advice from decades ago: Trust yourself as a parent.

"It's not good for the mother to feel isolated about the care of the baby," says a grandmother in Wilmington. "I think the father should talk to his parents and tell them that it's important for him and his wife to make the decisions on child-care issues."

One mother suggests telling the grandparents that even though they may be ready to potty-train the child, you're not ready to tackle this important milestone.

Toilet-training, eating and discipline are among the touchiest issues between generations, child-development experts say, and mom and dad typically need to set the pace. To help travel along the same path, share copies of classic child-care books such as:

"Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5" published and revised by The American Academy of Pediatrics. (Bantam Books, 2009).

"Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care" (Gallery, 2004) by Benjamin Spock and updated by Robert Needlman. Or go to and print out tips on toilet training.

"Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age 5" (Alfred Knopf, 2010) by Penelope Leach.

Recent psychology studies done at Notre Dame show mental-health benefits in early childhood when adult caregivers besides mom and dad also love the child. Even with limited play spaces, grandma and grandpa can provide different experiences while mommy's working.

Easy fun

Water play:
Add water to a dishpan, and set it on plastic on your kitchen floor. Give the child a wire whisk and containers to fill and empty. For bubbles, add dish soap.

Play dough:
Make a batch together, then let the child play with it. Hide no-longer-needed keys in the dough, and urge the child to dig them out.

Sand on a tray:
A small amount is enough for driving tiny cars or "drawing."