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When you're having a baby, there are lots of things to figure out – including what to call your child's grandparents. Of course, you can always go with reigning champs Grandma and Grandpa, but there are plenty of alternative names to choose from. (And you'll probably need them, since so many kids these days have multiple sets of grandparents.)
There's also the question of who should settle on the names – you, the grandparents themselves, or your child?
To help you sort things out, we asked more than 3,000 our site parents about their grandparental terms of endearment. Here's what we found.
Top 10 grandparent nicknames
More than half of our site families went for good ol' favorites Grandma and Grandpa, the most popular grandparent nicknames by a mile.
Second in the running were Nana and Papa, while Grammy, Granny, Granddad, and Gramps came in third. Here's the full list in order of popularity:
Popular grandmother names
Popular grandfather names
Unusual and fun grandparent nicknames
Many families in our survey – about 20 percent – broke new ground with unusual or creative grandparent nicknames. In fact, all together they reported more than 1,400 different names. Talk about variety! So if your mother-in-law and your mother both claim Nana, tell them there's no need to worry – there are more choices out there than there are cereals in a supermarket.
To get your ideas flowing, here are some of the creative and unique names we liked best, in alphabetical order:
Creative, unique grandmother nicknames
Bubbe / Bubbie / Bubby
Deedee / Didi
Creative, unique grandfather nicknames
Big Daddy / Big Papi
When grandparents choose their own name
More than half of our survey respondents turned the grandparent naming responsibility over to the grandparents themselves. One good reason to do this: If the name Grandma makes your mother feel ancient, letting her pick her own hip nickname will make her much happier – at little cost to you. This approach can also be helpful if you need a peace offering. Mother-in-law peeved because your baby's not her namesake? Extend an olive branch in the form of a little control.
One caveat: There's always the possibility that you won't like what the grandparents come up with. "I asked my mother-in-law what she wanted to be called and she chose Mommy. That is not happening!" says one our site mom. Another says, "My father-in-law said he wants to be called Pap, but I hate that. Reminds me of a Pap smear." You may want to reserve final veto power for yourself and your partner – just in case.
When you choose the name
Perhaps your parents and in-laws aren't the best namers, or maybe you just prefer to name them yourself. No problem – take the reins! Around one third of our survey participants did the same. "My mother-in-law didn't want to be called Grandma, so I made up the name LaLa for her," says one mom. "It's a combination of the last syllable of her name (Darla) and the last syllable of the Spanish word for Grandma (abuela). She loves it!"
Doing the naming yourself can be particularly helpful when you're dealing with difficult emotions or relationships. "I'd like my stepmother to be called Gigi (for Grandma Ginny) instead of Grandma," one mom explains. "I think it will hurt my mom less." Another mom says, "My kids call my husband's stepfather Murph, after his last name, Murphy. I think it's super cute and it eliminates any 'issues.'"
If your baby has multiple sets of grandparents and step-grandparents, you may want to use matching names, which have a certain ring to them and can certainly lessen the confusion factor. Some examples: Gram and Gramps, Nanny and Pappy, Lolly and Pop. Or you can honor your baby's heritage by borrowing from another language – for example, Nonna and Nonno (Italian), Lola and Lolo (Filipino), or Oma and Opa (German).
Finally, being in charge of the grandparent names gives you an opportunity to carry on traditions from your own childhood. "My father is Gramf, since that's what we called my grandfather," says one mom.
When your child chooses the name
Even if you or your child's grandparents have chosen the perfect name, there's no guarantee it'll stick. As your baby's babbling slowly morphs into discernible language, she may designate herself the grandparent name-giver – as was the case for about a quarter of our survey participants.
Not that this is a bad thing. Being bestowed with a special pet name can warm a grandparent's heart. "My daughter decided to start calling her grandfather Pappy instead of Grandpap and he loves it!" one mom says.
Of course, if you want to go this route, you'll need something to call the grandparents while you wait for your child's creative juices to start flowing. "Pick a base name and see how it comes out of your little one's mouth," suggests one mom. "We decided my dad would go by Boompa, but my daughter couldn't say it and it came out Pom Pom. That's what stuck!"
Your child might even surprise you with a nickname you love but would never have thought of yourself. For example, one child started calling her grandmother Grandi, a grandmotherly variation of her first name, Randi. "We thought it was so cute and clever," says her mom. No matter what your child calls her grandparents, it's their relationship that's most important.
Tell us: How often will your child (or does your child) see her grandparents?