It would appear there is a bit of a baby boom going on this year. I know so many pregnant ladies, it’s unbelievable. We see our friends (and friends of friends) sharing their pregnancy excitement and swollen ankles, ultrasound pictures, and bump photos on Facebook, even baby rooms on Pinterest and it’s enough to make us go, “Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Once mama and baby are home, we are SO excited to come on over, cuddle that sweet new baby and visit. While we look forward to these visits, they can be a source of stress for new parents. It can be overwhelming to be breastfeeding seemingly around the clock, dealing with the sudden onslaught of total sleep deprivation, hormonal cocktails bubbling over, and STILL new mamas and papas feel like they have to entertain when people come to <cue the gratuitous Seinfeld reference> “SEE THE BABY!!”
New parents do want to share their beautiful bundles with you. Really. But there are few things you should do to make your visit one where the parents are refreshed after you leave versus more exhausted. Here are 5 tips to show some mad baby love to the new parents in your life, be helpful and not a royal PITA.
CALL FIRST. Please ask permission to see if you can come over. Don’t ever “pop by” a home with a new baby in it. You never know how that household slept the day or hour before and if they’ve finally just crashed after a marathon breastfeeding session. Normally I love and am very pro-pop-in but not where it pertains to new mamas and papas. Just don’t.
BRING FOOD. Or Starbucks. Or something those parents can use. When a rash of babes were born a few years ago, I brought a coffee and care package to all my mama friends. A new trashy magazine, a Maybelline mascara (hey, mamas like to feel sexy too even when we might not look it), and a bubblebath bomb. Finger Foods are super helpful, like bagels, muffins, or something they don't have to cook and can eat one-handed, because new parents are busy! Casseroles are also a great alternative. Be sure to include the cooking instructions and don’t put it in a container you “just have to get back”.
WASH YOUR HANDS. I know you want to grab that baby and just “Mmmmmmmmmm” inhale that sweet, baby smell. But please don’t make the new parents look like paranoid freaks. Any and all baby handlers should wash their hands before holding the baby. It’s just good manners and helps keep newborns with new immune systems safe from your cooties.
CELEBRATE SIBLINGS. If you’re bringing a gigantic diaper cake or other enormous gift for baby, please bring something small for siblings too. Little ones are dealing with enough feelings of jealousy, anxiety, and stress (even if they appear happy, their world has been changed forever). When I had my middle child so many thoughtful people brought a small toy or token for my oldest to make sure he felt special and loved too. It’s a gesture I’ve never forgotten.
DO SOMETHING. I know it’s so tempting to just sit there and snuggle that baby. But it would be so super cool if you would, you know, run a vacuum or something. Put away a full dishwasher, run a load of laundry, fold something, and take a to-do off that new mama/papa’s list. I guarantee they will love you for it. Once you finished your chore, then you can volunteer to smell/snuggle that new baby while mama and papa go for a much needed nap. ;)
And here’s one more that is really, really important: According to the US Mental Health Association, it’s estimated that between 50% and 80% of mothers experience the “Baby Blues”. Post-partum depression is still under-diagnosed and grossly under-treated. Therefore, any help, support, and resource you can provide to a family with a new addition is a BIG help. Tell those parents you’d happy to come and sit with baby on Saturday so they can nap. You’d love to take the other kid(s) to the park to build snowmen while she enjoys the quiet. Every little bit counts. It does take a village. And although we have technology and all the comforts we can possibly ask for–a helping, caring hand still goes a long way.