A new baby means change. Whether it’s the couple’s first child or a new addition to an already large family, there are huge adjustments to be made. The first few weeks can be tough for parents, but their family and friends can do much to support and encourage them at this time. Here are some tips about what you can do to help.
Make sure to give mum and dad your congratulations at a time which is convenient to them. If you phone, you may find that you’re disturbing a precious nap or interrupting a feed, so make use of text, email, social networks or even post a card to send your best wishes.
Give the new family some space. It’s tempting to rush round to visit in the first few days, but they may appreciate it more if you leave it a while before visiting. Remember that paternity leave enables many dads to spend time helping out at home immediately after the birth, and grandparents may take up residence for a while too.
Keep visits short. It’s better to leave too soon than to outstay your welcome.
Find out the best time to visit, but be prepared to be flexible as most newborns do not operate to a schedule.
Call just before you arrive and check whether there’s anything the parents need you to bring. They may just have run out of milk or nappies and a quick pop to the shop on your way could save them the hassle of a shopping trip.
If you have children, check whether they are welcome before taking them round. The new parents may be delighted to see them, particularly if they have older children of their own who need someone to play with … or they may not.
It’s easy for new parents to feel shut-in, particularly if they are tired and feel it’s an effort to get out of the house. Help them out by inviting one or both out for tea or to go for a walk or to the park.
If the new baby has brothers or sisters, make sure that you don’t ignore them. Greet them first when you arrive, and perhaps take a small gift for them too if you are bringing one for the baby. Ask them to show you their new baby, but don’t push this if they don’t appear eager.
If it’s appropriate, offer to take care of the new baby for a while to allow the new mum to take a shower in peace or catch up on some sleep. However, don’t be offended if this is not accepted as many people find it hard to hand over the reins early on.
One of the nicest ways to show you care is to take a meal or a cake, but make sure that you are aware of any dietary requirements and allergies as well as the family’s likes and dislikes.
For parents of newborns who also have older children, offer to host a playdate for a couple of hours once a week after baby arrives. The children will enjoy spending time with their friends, and it will give the parents some space for rest or alone time with the baby. If the sibling is not old enough or doesn’t like playdates, offer to play with them there at the house for a few hours.
Offer to help with the housework. Not everyone will feel able to accept this, but if you make your offer specific, such as “Would you like me to take your ironing and bring it back tomorrow?” you may find that it is appreciated. At the very least you can offer to wash up your own coffee cup before you leave.
It may not seem like very much, but be a good friend by listening. A new mum or dad may need just to unload on someone – particularly if they know they can do this without judgment or criticism.
And don’t forget those who might be welcoming a new child into their home through fostering or adoption. Whether or not the child is a newborn, your support, help and interest will be much appreciated.
Looking for a gift?
These great books are perfect for busy, new parents as they can be dipped into at any time. They look great on the coffee table and are packed with nuggets of wisdom, encouragement and fun!
The Sixty Minute Mother and The Sixty Minute Father by Rob Parsons are both available here or by calling 029 2081 0800.