Having a baby is exciting for everyone involved. It’s a momentous and life-changing occasion for the parents. And you, as a friend or family member, are so excited for them and can’t wait to meet this new life they have brought into the world. You want to meet the baby, congratulate the parents, and maybe bring a gift to show your love and support.
Awesome! Now, before you go and visit, there are a few things to consider. These new parents have been through a lot. Labor is HARD and the mother’s body needs time to recover. Since that mother’s body ran the marathon of labor, she probably hasn’t gotten more than 2-4 hours of sleep at a time. Her partner is doing his or her best to support her, but no one is getting much sleep, especially the first month. They are also trying to bond with their new baby. There is a lot to juggle.
So, to help you help them, here are some recommendations to make you the best visitor new parents have!
Don’t visit the first week (unless you are just dropping off a dinner)
The parents are exhausted from labor & delivery. Let the new family rest and work on establishing their new routine. Only come for a visit the first week if invited.
Do bring food
Homemade dinner (they can order take-out themselves)
Homemade breakfast or snack items are especially wonderful, because breakfast places don’t deliver. And homemade muffins can be so satisfying to a nursing mom at 3am.
If possible, use disposable packaging so there are no dishes to wash and keep track of for return.
Do offer non-cooking help:
Offer to pick up diapers or other errand items.
Help with cleaning or chores while mom rests or bonds with her new baby.
If they have any older children, play with them!
Do ask what time is best for the family.
Mornings may not be great for them. Work your schedule around their comfort, at least until they get the hang of things.
If you have, or have recently had, any kind of contagious illness, wait another week.
Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before handling the baby.
Especially during fall and winter, if you are vaccinated against flu, fantastic! If you are vaccinated against whooping cough too, that’s even better.
Don’t plan to stay too long.
An hour is good, and if the parents invite you for longer, great.
Don’t expect much.
Don’t make assumptions; let them make the offer for you to hold the baby. Especially if they are first time parents.
Don’t expect to be “hosted” – e.g. offered a drink. If you think you might want a drink, bring a water bottle or travel mug with you (maybe offer to bring something for Mom, too?). Or, if you want something to drink while visiting, get it yourself while getting a fresh cup of water or coffee for Mom.
It may seem like a lot of rules to remember, but give new parents respect in their own homes, and they’re sure to thank you for visiting and showing your love and support and invite you to come back soon!