A question that often pops up in my circle when a friend is expecting is what are some unique and useful ways to help new parents when they first get home and start to settle in?
Looking back, the newborn stage was quite a blur. As moms and parents, we just try to make it all work. Some of us even have to go back to work within six weeks after delivery, all while figuring out how to be a mom, take care of our family and most importantly how to take care of ourselves.
A village is important. You don’t realize how much this saying means until you’re navigating the world of having a newborn. And while the soft baby blankets are a great gift, keep those items for the shower. There are some really incredibly useful ways to help new parents that cannot be purchased at Babies R Us.
If your family, friends or coworkers are expecting their first bundle of joy, here are five useful ways to help new parents out in the early newborn through infant stage.
Five Useful Ways To Help New Parents
Food and Prepared Meals
Since becoming a mom, the question I get asked the most after “How’s he sleeping?” (You can stop asking that one) is “What is a good gift for new parents?”
Only a new parent can tell you what another new parent will need. I just scoured the internet and found the a bunch of articles with a lot of crap a new parent doesn’t need or care for.
Yes, the blankets are cute. The onesies with funny sayings are also a great idea. But honestly, that’s not what they want or need. There are plenty of other things you can buy or do for a family that has just welcomed a new baby.
What was the best gift you received?
My first response to “What was the best gift you received?” was a meal that was planned out for us that just needed to by thrown into an oven. It was gifted by a friend of mine and was the best thing done for us. I’ve seen a lot of church goers prepare meals for fellow parishioners expecting a new little one and it is by far the best gift you can give a new parent.
With the laundry piling up and the lack of sleep, we forget to eat. It’s hard to balance it all when there’s no way to practice ahead of time. If the mother is planning on breastfeeding, it’s important that she eats regularly to increase and keep her milk supply.
You could also send the new parents in your life a few meals from a delivery service like HelloFresh. These meals will have to be prepared, but the food shopping and recipes are all there and can typically be made in under 45 minutes. There are also services like The Meal Stork that are specifically for new parents.
In addition to the prepared meals, snacks are a fantastic item to bring to new parents. Whenever my husband, John, ran to the store, I requested “one handed snacks.” I wanted things that could easily be grabbed and opened with minimal use of both hands. I lived off of these in the first eight weeks of Rion’s life.
My son was on me the entire time during those early months. Between nursing and sleeping on me, I don’t think I had a free moment until John arrived home from work. It wasn’t until I finally broke out my Ergo stretchy wrap when Rion reached the minimum weight that things finally started changing.
Make the new parents a snack basket with healthy snacks and fruits.
If you’re unsure about allergies, try to avoid the big ones like peanuts or milk. Some new moms may be avoiding things such as broccoli or milk if they are nursing because it may give the baby gas. For us, I had to cut out milk entirely early on. You can avoid these in your meals.
They’ll appreciate food more than you know.
This is a controversial one.
This will be on a case by case basis, but choose the time in which you visit new parents wisely. The new parents may not say no to your visit because they don’t know any better and haven’t slept in hours.
If you ask and visit in the first few weeks of the new baby’s life, you can make your visit short and sweet especially if you’re looking to just coo and cuddle the new baby. Like, an hour short and sweet.
New parents are adjusting to their new life and it’s incredibly hard during the first month. There will be a time to ask the questions.
Continue to support your friends on their new parenthood journey. Send them messages. Send e-mails they can read in the middle of the night when they’re up at 2am! Your friends will respond when they can. They will need some adjustment to being a parent, not sleeping, and figuring out how to do it all.
The laundry is piling up. The sink is full of dishes. The vacuum is collecting dust. They’re completely out of food and the baby is sleeping in their arms.
Seriously, this is one of the best and useful ways to help new parents out as they adjust to life at home with a baby.
If you’re visiting your friend, pop the laundry in. Get the dishes loaded in the dishwasher or hand wash them so the new parents can grab as they need. Offer to run to the store to grab them some items at the grocery store so they can get through the next couple of days. Cook dinner!
Another idea is a cleaning service for the new parents. We were lucky enough to have family help us with this one.
My mom stayed with us often and really made it a point to get a chore done a day for us while I tended to my son, slept, or ate. She was so incredibly helpful during those first few months until I was able to get back on my feet and do more around the house.
An Hour Off
New parents may not be open to this one right away, but offer an hour of your time one afternoon for the new parents to go grab lunch or get a hair cut. Something we forget to do is take time for ourselves. A little bit of time, even as short as an hour, will do a world of good for a new mom and dad.
I know I was one to fight any time away from my son, so offering up time during the day as opposed to night was best for me. Rion doesn’t sleep well, so I know I am needed at night time.
It’s important that new parents start to get their feet under them once the dust has settled and they are into a routine. We are people too and need to take care of ourselves to take care of others.
New parents need sleep. Something no one tells you when you are pregnant is you start out with absolutely no sleep. None.
I had a 24 hour labor that ended in a C-Section. I didn’t sleep much during labor and I definitely could not sleep after. The baby was in our room and needed to be fed and changed often. Doctors and nurses were constantly checking my blood pressure throughout the day and night. We had visitors.
We. Were. Exhausted.
Exhausted doesn’t even begin to cover it, honestly.
Give new parents time to rest. This goes back to all of the other tips I have already given you. The baby is asleep. Yes, I know you want to cuddle the sleeping baby, but now the new parent who desperately needs an hour or two of rest has to entertain you or do the chores that are piling up.
Repeat after me, “Why don’t you go to sleep? Give me your shopping list and debit card PIN and I’ll take care of the shopping for you.”
This is the type of thing new parents need. They aren’t going to realize they want it until months have passed. Take control and tell your friend to sleep and that you’ll handle the dishes. It will mean the world to them.
What are some useful ways to help new parents that you would add to this list?