If you have a friend that is expecting her first baby or has just had a new baby, then there can be quite a few things that you can do to help. Of course, there may be some things that they want to be doing by themselves. But if you have been there and done that with children, then you can be a real help and support. If you haven’t really reached out to new parents to help them, you might not really know where to start. It can be difficult to know how to help, for starters.
So here is a quick guide to reaching out and helping new or expecting moms, so that you can really be a help and not a hindrance.
How to Support a Friend Who Recently Had a Baby or Is Expecting:
Don’t invite yourself over
You might be really looking forward to seeing your friend and their new little one, but it is common to wait for an invite over, rather than rushing over as soon as they are home from the hospital. Unless you have heard from your friend via text, for example, that you are welcome anytime, then you shouldn’t just ‘stop by’ unless they know you are coming and know to expect you. Even if you mean well, and even if you are only planning to drop off a gift, it is best to wait until they are happy to welcome visitors.
As you are likely to know if you are a parent yourself, you will know that new parents will be trying to re-calibrate physically, mentally and emotionally, all while running on very little sleep. So if you are visiting, even socializing for them can be exhausting, and they might just want to take a nap. Plus, some new moms might just want to have some exclusive time with their baby, before they welcome others in.
Some things may not apply to you, but make sure that you ask about visiting first.
Support in Pregnancy
As anyone who has ever been pregnant will tell you, no one likes to hear unwelcome comments and ‘advice,’ especially if it was never asked for in the first place. So just be there to be a support when your friend is pregnant. It could be that you could just send them something like The Complete Pregnancy Checklist: A Month-By-Month Guide article by WhatsApp, for instance. You could share what has worked for you, rather than just be too over the top. Even if you are ‘older and wiser’ having done it yourself, you need to remember that this is their time to be pregnant and they are experiencing it all for the first time.
So let them enjoy it and learn things in their own way.
If you were to ask an etiquette expert, then they would be likely to cringe at the idea of showing up empty-handed when you would be going to visit new parents and a new baby. Of course, you are not obligated to bring a gift, but it is probably going to be something that is appreciated if you do (even better if it is a more practical gift like diapers and wipes. Not glamorous but really helpful).
Taking something for mom can be a really good idea too; something as simple as lotion, body wash and a chapstick can be all that they need to feel good as new and help them to have a little pamper session which will be much deserved.
Other ideas of things to take can be cute outfits for the baby, or a sweet blanket. Another great thing to take over is food, which could be a meal that they can freeze, or perhaps just treats like muffins that they can enjoy. It doesn’t matter if your friends are fine financially or the baby is a few months old; being able to bring some food is something that is neighborly and a really helpful gesture. Thinking about cooking a meal, whether it is the first baby or the sixth baby, is never something that you feel too enthused to do. So taking food is always a good idea.
If you are coordinating with a larger group of people, like other school moms or coworkers, for example, then you could use a meal planning app or a website to make planning it all easier, and so everyone knows who is coming and when.
Give parents a break
If you are after some baby snuggles, then you can be a massive help to new parents, as well as getting those snuggles in. If you can help your friend by just being the babysitter while they take a nap can be just what they need. When you are visiting your friends with a new baby, then make sure you offer to hold the baby so that they can go and do something. It could be that they could take a nap, take a shower, quickly pop to the store, or just enjoy a hot cup of coffee.
These small things can be really helpful and can work wonders to help your friend to feel a little more like themselves. Plus, if they know that baby is in good hands, then they shouldn’t feel stressed. Of course, this can all depend on the kind of relationship that you have with your friend, as well as the person.
Some new moms can be sensitive about who they let hold their baby, so don’t be offended if they don’t want to leave when you’re there.
If your friend already has some other children, then it is a good idea to not forget about the siblings that are at home. Siblings can feel a little overwhelmed with a new baby, especially if they are a little younger children. Of course, it is up to you and how well you know the children, but it could be a good idea to take a gift for the siblings, not just the new baby. It goes a long way to help them to feel included in it all. If you skip the gift for them, then it can be a good idea to get chatting with the siblings right away, rather than just getting straight into baby cuddles.
So don’t forget about the siblings, it can make such a difference.
Be a good listener
When you have a friend with a new baby, it is such a good idea to pay attention to how they are doing. Which is where paying attention and listening well can be such an important skill. Plus, new parents can often crave adult conversation, so make sure you are there to chat and to listen to them; you might be the only adult that they have spoken to in hours. It can be a good idea to take the lead from your friend, and then you can let the conversation go wherever they want it to.
One of the best things that you can do to be a good friend is by being a good listener. You could always tell some funny stories about something recent in your life to lighten the mood.
Keep visits short and sweet
For a long time, one of the hardest things that comes with being a new parent is about working out a feeding and sleeping schedule for your baby. Babies tend to be not the most reliable of creatures, so this can be something that can be quite stressful. So if you are planning on a visit, then once you have shown up, make sure that you plan to keep the visit short and sweet. You don’t want them to stress out with you there and with baby being a little out of routine.