10 Ways to Help New Parents

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s baby season. In my circle of acquaintances, babies are being born left and right. Although it’s always thoughtful and nice to give a cute baby outfit to a new mom, there are lots of better ways to show new parents you care.

When we had Jack four months ago we had more support from our friends and family than I could have ever imagined. In addition to the adorable baby outfits, here are some of the other things you can give or do for new parents that will mean the world to them.

Shepherd's Pie -- Real Comfort Food

1. Bring Dinner

Fact — newborns require every fiber of attention in a new parent’s body and sometimes she doesn’t have the mental or physical capacity to feed herself. During the first few weeks of parenthood, my best friend organized a group on Facebook of friends and acquaintances to bring us dinner three times a week. This was quite a feat. Now with sites like mealtrain.com, it’s simple to organize meals for people who need them. We had so much food that there were plenty of leftovers for the days people didn’t bring us anything. Sometimes people didn’t have time to make us dinner so they brought us a hot pizza or Thai food. The best was when a friend made stuffed Italian shells and brought them to us cold so we could pop them in the oven whenever it was convenient for us.Word of advice — if you value your Tupperware, use disposable containers or you probably won’t see them again (although I was very diligent and wrote everyone’s name on the bottom of each container. They were eventually returned).

Chicken Taquitos with Spinach & Wild Rice

2. Bring Snacks

Again, I found myself too tired in the beginning to make anything for myself to eat and when our family friends brought us a huge basket of grapes, oranges, bananas, mangoes and apples I was really appreciative. If the parents are meat eaters, an antipasti platter of salamis, olives, crusty bread and olive oil makes for a tasty snack or lunch.

3. Hire a Housecleaner

One of the best gifts we got was my mother hired a woman to clean our house one day. With round-the-clock feedings and diaper changes, cleaning my house was the last thing on my mind. It was a refreshing feeling to find my kitchen clean, my living room tidy and my carpets vacuumed.

4. Do the dishes

My house was abysmal when my son was brand new and I didn’t feel guilty in the slightest when a visitor would come to meet the baby and then do my dishes, take out my trash or fold my laundry. Listen — new moms and dads are too tired to do this stuff. FOR REAL. If they have any sense in them they will let you do these things for them because it simply can’t be done while caring for a newborn 24 hours a day. If you come to meet the baby, take a look around and nonchalantly take care of a household chore. Wipe the kitchen counters, ask where you might find the broom and sweep the floor. Believe me, this was something that helped me relax better in my own home.

5. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

I loved showing off my new baby boy. We had lots of visitors in the first few weeks. I would just let individuals know when I happened to be awake or cognizant and if they made it over, fine, and if not, we’d work out another time. Lots of people were anxious to visit, but please keep in mind that new parents are exhausted and as much as they want to hang out with you, they may be too tired or just want to be with one another. If you’re visiting and you notice them looking glazed over or not too social, take it as a sign to leave. It’s a little hazy, but in a couple of instances, I may have just left my guests by themselves in my living room because I was just too tired to even ask them to leave. I wasn’t trying to be rude and neither were they, but be sensitive.

6. Babysit for an Hour

If you are closer to the parents and feel comfortable caring for newborns, offer the new parents an hour of babysitting time. New babies need to eat every two hours around the clock so it can be very hard for a new mom to find time for herself. Once a newborn is fed she usually just sleeps, so come over for a couple of hours and once you see mama is done with a feeding let her take a break for an hour or so. If baby wakes up, just bring her to mama. As long as she is fed and being held lovingly you shouldn’t have too hard of a time babysitting a newborn for a short amount of time. These little pockets of free time were awesome, even if I didn’t get any sleep.

7. Run an Errand

If you find yourself at the grocery store with some time to spare, call up the new parents and ask if there is anything you can pick up for them. This was something I really appreciated because I probably shouldn’t have been operating a motor vehicle in such a sleep-deprived state. There were quite a few times were I needed a few more diapers, some burp cloths or wet wipes and not having to get them myself was pretty much the best thing ever.

Hooded Baby Towel and Mitt Set -- A Tutorial

8. Endure a Baby’s Cry

Hearing my baby cry in the beginning made me anxious. I had fed him, changed him, rocked him and still he’d sometimes cry. Every so often I just needed a break and I really appreciated it when a visitor would take over for even a few minutes. Let mom and dad take a breather from their crying babe, but only if they feel comfortable with it of course.

9. Be Flexible

Did you set up a time to meet your friend’s new baby and she cancelled on you? Don’t take it as a personal insult. When helping out new parents, go with the flow. If you planned on bringing over a meal, don’t stick around — just drop it off and let the parents have their own time. Follow the parents’ cues and don’t feel bad if they don’t follow typical social graces.

10. Send a Card

Call me old-fashioned, but I love receiving mail. If you don’t have the ability to visit or spend much money, then send a congratulatory note to the new parents. It’s an easy way to show you’re thinking of them. I loved each and every card we got in the mail. Being the crafty type, they have been cut up and collaged in Jack’s baby book.

What are some thoughtful things that people did for you when you had a new baby? Leave a comment!

-Nat

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