Why Baby Does Not Like Grandma: 9 Reasons (And Solutions)

Maybe you had optimistic expectations for your baby’s visits with their grandmother, imagining a joyful and organic bond forming between them.

However, the reality does not always look like this. Some babies absolutely do not want to spend time with grandma.

Why does my baby not like her grandma? Babies don’t always like people just because we think they’re supposed to or because they are family. There may be things about grandma that are off-putting to your baby, or your baby may have high stranger anxiety. No matter the cause, this situation can definitely change over time.

Knowing why your baby is not responding well to grandma can help you and your child take steps to ensure that a positive relationship develops.

Why Baby Does Not Like Grandma: 9 Reasons

If your baby’s time with grandma is less than ideal, there are many possibilities as to why. 

1. Stranger Anxiety

Grandma, as far as your baby is concerned, is a stranger. Yes, she may be family, but your baby does not recognize her the way she recognizes her parents.

This can be an even bigger issue if grandma lives far away and only visits periodically. It can feel like starting over for your baby every time she appears.

2. Grandma Has Big Personality

Is Granny larger than life in the personality department? This may be a reason your baby is not enjoying time with her.

While that big personality may work great with older kids or adults, it could be startling your baby or outright scaring her.

3. Is Uncomfortable With Grandma’s Voice

Babies pick up on sounds, and your baby may not be a fan of grandma’s voice. If she is a loud talker, your child may be startled or put off by the sound. Grandma speaking too quickly or in a shrill tone can also up a baby’s anxiety.

Grandma’s tone or tendency to use baby talk may be so over the top that your child finds it alarming.

4. Strange Scent

You know how some things smell like home and other scents smell off to your senses? The same can be true for babies.

If grandma wears strong perfume, uses strongly scented soap, or even has a laundry detergent smell lingering on her clothes, your baby may react negatively.

5. Prefers Men Over Women

Some babies prefer one gender to the other, and if your baby prefers men, grandma may be out of luck. Your baby is obviously going to love mom because that’s who she knows, but that affection doesn’t always translate to other women. 

6. Not Accustomed to Accessories

Does grandma wear gaudy earrings, colorful hats, or glasses? If so, your baby may have a hard time understanding what they are looking at and how they should respond.

Babies don’t always know what accessories are and if they are good or bad. They may just be frightened when they see someone wearing them.

7. Anticipates Being Taken Away From Mom

Your baby may notice a pattern when grandma arrives that they don’t like. If grandma visiting means mom doesn’t hold the baby, your child is likely going to protest.

Many grandmas immediately reach for the little one, and this makes your child associate grandma coming over with not being near mom. Most babies will see this as a negative association. 

8. Not Comfortable With the Way Grandma Holds Them

You have a certain way that you hold your baby to ensure comfort. Grandma doesn’t always know your holding techniques, and some grandmas won’t use them even if they are aware.

They may try to hold the baby like they want, or they might always be messing with the baby’s clothes or hair. Babies who don’t enjoy this will not enjoy being with grandmas.

9. Is Overwhelmed by the Attention

It’s normal for grandma to want to kiss cheeks and shower your child with attention. However, it can overwhelm a child quite easily.

All the hugging, holding, and cooing can startle a child and make them react in a way that implies they would rather grandma go home.

How To Help Baby Bond With Grandma

A baby's hand resting on her grandmother's outstretched hand on a black background.

Fortunately, there are ways to help your baby bond with grandma. Here are a few to try.

  • Point to grandma and say, “Look, it’s Grandma!” in a loving voice.
  • Stay around while your child bonds with her grandmother.
  • If the grandma wears distracting accessories, ask her to leave them at home when she visits.
  • Have the grandmother visit frequently for short periods of time so your baby can get used to her.
  • Ask the grandma to come over as scent-free as possible.
  • Don’t push your baby too hard. Grandma will have to understand that this bonding may take time.

How To Deal With Grandparents and New Baby

It is okay to set out rules and boundaries that make the interactions between grandparents and the new baby easier for everyone.

  • Make your expectations clear upfront. If you don’t want visitors immediately, let the grandparents know beforehand.
  • Make a list of things you find helpful from visitors and communicate this information to the grandparents. If you would love for someone to run a load of laundry for you but don’t want them to simply take the baby away from you, tell them that.
  • Let each partner deal with their own parents. Feelings tend to get less hurt this way.

Related Questions: 

At What Age Do Babies Recognize Their Grandparents?

How soon your baby will recognize grandparents depends on how often they see them. Babies who see their grandparents weekly may be able to recognize them as early as the six-month mark.

If your baby sees their grandparents every day, they might recognize them sooner. Expect it to take longer if the grandparents live far away and don’t see your child often.

How Often Should Grandparents Visit Newborn?

Every parent needs to set limits that work for them when it comes to visitors, including grandparents.

Some parents choose to take several days to a week or so to get used to life as a family before they invite grandparents to the house. Other parents want grandparents there immediately to offer assistance and meet the baby.

Know that grandparents should never visit a newborn when they are sick since babies are so vulnerable when they are young.

Closing Thoughts

Don’t stress if the relationship your child has with grandma isn’t easy at first. Over time, it is possible for them to develop a loving relationship that they both enjoy.