During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families of essential workers are relying on grandparents for childcare. This can be a great opportunity for children to enjoy precious time with their grandparents, but if grandparents were not your regular childcare providers before the pandemic, here are a few adjustments you can make to accommodate common challenges experienced by elderly heroes who come to the childcare rescue.

Parents’ first instinct is to make sure that baby looks darling, and while nobody can discount the impact of a well-dressed child, please include a change of clean clothes that is easier on grandparents. As we age, arthritis commonly impacts capacities in dexterity gradually, but it is absolutely more difficult to manage small buttons and zippers at age 75 than at age 25. Stuffing those sweet fat baby thighs into little jeans or stockings is more difficult for mature caregivers, as is shoving little feet into shoes that are hard to get on or buckle. Consider including the following in your child’s bag to promote child independence when possible and to facilitate ergonomically correct movement when assistance is needed from an older caregiver:

  • Elastic waist, roomy pants (just like Grandma’s). Easy up. Easy down. Machine wash.
  • T-shirts with large neck holes to prevent a Mr. Turtle situation when changing.
  • Sweater or hoodie without buttons; the elderly are more temperature sensitive and favor clothing layers to accommodate.
  • Socks that fit.
  • Slide-on shoes like Crocs or rubber boots for toddlers to put shoes on independently (or with as little assistance as possible).
  • If the grandparent must give the child a medication, include a note with the instructions from the pharmacy rewritten boldly to accommodate aged eyesight.

Old people can’t see, button, or bend over? Of course they can, but with age, these tasks require more effort and time that many younger people are unaware of. Make watching your child as easy and enjoyable as possible for grandparents so they can spend more time providing child enrichment and less time fighting to get those cute shoes on and buckled.