From Abuela to Yia Yia: Names for Grandparents and Tips for Finding the Perfect One

grandpa and baby
There are so many different things your new, beautiful grandchildren may someday call you. Learning this new name for you and hearing it over and over for the next few years will be a source of great joy. However, when it comes down to it, you probably want to be a part of the decision, right? Here are some of the most common names for grandparents:






Nana/Pop or Poppop



Yia Yia and Papou

Many, many others from different nickname traditions and language traditions.

Granny, Mimi, and many others are also common, and it isn't so surprising that many grandparent names come from a word for grandmother or grandfather in a language with some cultural significance in your family. Here are some questions to help you figure out how you should choose what to be called by your grandchildren.

If you don't get a say in what you are called as a grandparent, it is okay! Many people have this happen quite naturally and without a lot of fuss. However, sometimes grandparents think ahead and specifically have goals for their name. As soon as you can, consider the following questions and have some good conversations with your children and the other grandparents of these grandchildren. By talking it out ahead of time, you get more of a say, but remember that sometimes, a child simply picks your name him or herself.


What Did You Call Your Own Grandparents?

Many times, the most comfortable name as a grandparent is the name that you called your own grandparents, or that your children called your parents. If you think about these names for yourself and for your spouse, consider which ones create the most warm and comfortable feelings for you both. Ease of pronunciation is good as well; the more syllables you come up with, the more likely it is that your grandchildren will modify them of their own accord!

What Would Your Children Prefer?

Your children are also going to be living with and hearing these names for quite a while, so run your top options past your children. Possibly, they will have one or two options that the specifically don't want, and you can work around that with you. A sweet and pleasant conversation about how you will be called can ensure that children don't hear "grandma" from one person and "gigi" from another.

What Are the Child's Other Grandparents Called?

Even if you discover that your favorite option for a name has been taken by the other grandparents already, accept this quickly and find your way to an identity with another name. For one thing, arguing over grandparent nicknames is a silly thing to do, and also your grandchildren and children will appreciate totally separate names that help everyone know who is who.


What Is Your Cultural Background, and Does it Have a Special Way to Speak of Grandparents?

As previously mentioned, some people prefer to look to their heritage languages other than English and pull a nickname for grandparents from those languages. Not only do these tend to be unique, they also offer you the option to share something about your cultural heritage with your grandchildren. Grandchildren love stories and your name can be a source of a great story when they discover that your name is different from the grandparents in their class at school.

What New Tradition Are You Interested in Starting?

Some grandparents prefer to pick a totally new name, free of all the background of their families or of the standard names. Make sure that it isn't so outlandish that the child won't recognize it as a name, but you'd be surprised: most two-syllable name sounds will work if introduced early enough! Just make sure you are certain, since children tend to resist changing the nickname for their grandparents after they grow accustomed to one particular name.

What Did Your Grandchild Actually Say First?

Many grandparents opt to wait and see what their child says. Often, hearing Grandma and Grandpa, for instance, the child comes up with "papa" or "mamaw" on their own, creating a simpler sound that becomes a source of comfort and sweetness for them. This is just as significant of a way to develop your grandchild's name for you, and there's nothing wrong with that!

No matter how you decide to proceed, choose a name that will make you smile when you hear it, since with any luck you'll be hearing it very often! Making sure that this new identity in your life is a positive one can make the next few years all the more sweet. When everyone is on the same page about your name as a grandma or grandpa, the child feels secure that they know you and know what you are called.