If using disposables, all you need know is that the picture goes on the front, and the sealing tabs fasten in front; and, once the nappy is secured, there should be space to slip your finger comfortably between the nappy and the baby’s tummy. Don’t leave the baby alone on the bed or changing mat – he might roll off. But you knew that already.
Some things have changed since the days when bathing babies was second nature. The bath is not always a daily ritual. Twice or even once a week is considered enough provided careful topping and tailing is carried out every day.
Soap is frowned upon for babies with sensitive skin, and people no longer poke cotton wool buds into crevices and orifices. Talcum powder is now taboo, as the baby may breathe in tiny particles, which can irritate the lungs.
But mothers and fathers still test the water temperature with an elbow, babies still squirm and wriggle, and boys will still squirt you in the eye as soon as you have them naked on your lap.
Before leaving you alone with the baby, the parents will tell you how wrong it is to put the baby to sleep in its pram or cot facing downwards. You probably did with yours, because we knew no better. At the time it was considered a good idea; it was supposed to strengthen the child’s neck and back. Now it is known to be dangerous and all babies must sleep on their backs, with their feet at the bottom of the cot or pram, rather than with their heads at the top.
Follow the parents’ routine with blankets or other covers. The modern idea is that in the bad old days, babies were kept warmer than was good for them (yes, by us), and, although they should be in a warm room and out of draughts, they should not have blankets heaped on them.
You may find yourself having to answer the question "Can I come in your bed, granny?" from a child who won't settle at bedtime or who wakes in the night. When we were bringing up our children it was considered a bad idea, but now, although some childcare experts think it unwise, co-sleeping, as it is called, is no longer considered a crime.
Six per cent of three-year-olds in the UK sleep regularly in their parents’ beds. In many cultures it has always been the norm and according to The Great Ormond Street New Baby and Child Care Book: "If you do not mind, then it is not a problem, however unorthodox it might seem to another family."
Whether you let your grandchild come into your bed depends partly on whether he is used to sleeping with his parents at home. Mostly it depends on your own inclination. On the whole, our generation disapproves of co-sleeping, perhaps simply because we didn’t do it ourselves. Your own sleep pattern will certainly be disrupted with a child in bed with you, so you may want to refuse. But there is a compromise open to you. "Yes," you might say, "you can go to sleep in my bed, and when you have gone to sleep I will put you back in your own bed without waking you up."
The sleeping arrangements of older children are likely to be outside your control, and they may be used to staying up as late as they wish at home. However, it should be possible, for your own peace of mind, to establish a rule that they go to bed when you do. This means they won’t be watching 'unsuitable' programmes on television or logging on to unsuitable websites. You can’t force them to go to sleep, but during the holidays there is no reason they shouldn’t read in bed for as long as they like.
When you’re out and about with your grandchildren you will probably need the buggy. You will get it out and try to unfold it. But you will find you can’t master it, in spite of the demonstration and practice you had before leaving home. It's not just you. All grandparents, virtually without exception, have this trouble. The folding pushchair is the one piece of modern equipment which utterly defeats them. They can neither open it up when they take it out of the car, nor collapse it when it is time to put it back. Most of us need more than one lesson followed by several 'practice goes' at it. Even then, we’ll probably have forgotten a week later. Write down how it’s done, and sketch a diagram, and keep it in the car. You can also mark the lever you have to push or pull with red nail varnish.
One of the great innovations since our days is the cross-country baby buggy – designed to cover rough terrain, and keep the baby safe and comfortable inside. It means wherever you go, whether it's a Scottish moor, Cornish coastal path or muddy farm, nobody has to stay at home to look after the baby. The baby comes too.
If planning to go anywhere by car, then you have to have a car seat. Without one, it is illegal to drive a baby anywhere, even to the hospital in a crisis. You can always transfer the car seat from the parents’ car, but it’s probably worth getting one of your own. Familiarise yourself with it well in advance, making sure you know how to install it in your car, and how to strap the baby into it. It is by no means obvious. The fastenings on car seats come second only to folding buggies as objects designed to frustrate grannies and grandpas, and make them feel like complete idiots.
When our children were at the pre-school stage, Watch with Mother was restricted to a short period each day. Today children’s TV is available almost non-stop from 6am until 7pm. However, an hour once in a while so that granny can nod off is not going to give them square eyes. With a little low cunning you can select programmes you yourself enjoy, and reject the ugly, loud and garish ones.
If your grandchild begs and begs, and nags and nags to watch something that you know to be unsuitable or feel to be trashy, honesty is not always the best policy - the occasional lie is worth it to avoid a battle. When you don’t want them to watch you could tell them the TV has broken down, you've lost the zapper, or only Grandpa knows how to switch it on.