A Friends and Family Guide to Helping with a New Baby
New babies come with a lot of excitement and hands that are ready to help! Check out our ideas for the best ways to help with a new baby.
New babies come with a lot of excitement and hands that are ready to help! As we get ready for baby #3, I’ve been remembering all of the helpful things that our friends and family did for us upon the arrival of our little ones. In this post, I’ve put together some ideas for the best ways to help with a new baby. Whether you’re near or far, there are ideas for everyone that will help to put a little smile on a new parent’s face and show them your support!
Be sure to check out these other blog posts that you may enjoy:
A Friends and Family Guide to Helping with New Babies
If finally meeting your baby for the first time isn’t already enough to make your heart explode, experiencing the outpouring of love from your family and friends for your newest addition certainly will! Starting from the early days of my pregnancies and even now, in the toddler years, I am completely humbled by how well our village has loved our babies.
And with this love, comes a lot of excitement and hands that are ready to help with your new baby! If you’re anything like me, asking for help is hard. And, quite honestly, the bigger struggle can be even knowing WHAT to ask for. The same goes for family and friends who WANT to help, but just aren’t sure WHAT to do!
So, as we get ready for baby #3, I’ve been reflecting on our own experiences and talking with friends who are currently in the newborn trenches to come up with ideas and some guiding principles for all of those well-meaning helping hands!
From things so simple that they seem silly to even mention, to learning how to help care for your little one, my hope is that these ideas will help to guide you, your friends and family in ways that will truly be helpful during those early days.
Please note that not every one of these ideas will work for you. These are strange times we’re living in and YOU are the best decision maker for your family, so you get to decide the kinds of help and interactions that you are comfortable with!
How to Help with a New Baby
This is something everyone can do without lifting a finger! New parents have a lot going on. They’re trying to figure things out while managing hormones, lack of sleep, recovery…the list is long. And it goes without saying that their sole focus is making the absolute best decisions possible for their new baby!
If your text goes unanswered, give them grace. If they forget to check-in with you after a big meeting, give them grace. If they are doing something differently than you think they should, give them grace.
You may have some really good advice or a story about how your other friend got their baby to sleep through the night at 5 weeks, but the best way to support them right now is to encourage them, tell them that they’re doing a great job and keep your opinions to yourself (unless asked)!
You know how your interpretation of a well-meaning observation from a co-worker can depend on the kind of day you’ve had? Same goes for your well-meaning parenting observations. They may not translate the way you intended to a sleep-deprived new mom or dad!
No Strings Attached and Proactive Help
This one applies to all of the ideas shared in this post!
Don’t let your offer to help create added stress. Limit the decisions they have to make to receive your help. For example, if you’re bringing dinner, use your best judgment on what to bring. Don’t saddle the new parent with the task of telling you what recipe to make or which restaurant to pick.
Be proactive and specific. Instead of “I’d love to take Sally for a playdate one day.” try “I’d love to take Sally for a playdate. How’s Saturday at 10am?” Instead of “What can I do to help?” try “I’m going to Costco today. What can I get you? I’ll drop it off on your porch on my way home.”
No unannounced visits. My sweet neighbors once showed up for an unannounced visit during a feeding and got an unexpected eyeful!
Keep your offers to help low key and casual. Making a big production may make new parents feel as though they need to repay the favor or as if they’re obligated to entertain. For example, when dropping food off, leave it on the porch or say a quick hello. Don’t show up expecting appetizers and a cocktail!
And finally, let’s all just agree that new parents get a pass on sending thank you notes!
Food (and lots of it)!
When new parents are solely focused on keeping a tiny human(s) alive, meal planning falls to the wayside. And everyone has to eat! That’s why food tops the list of ways to be helpful to new moms and dads.
Set up a meal train (or sign-up for a meal if they already have one)! This helps to ensure the new parents get a steady flow of planning-free sustenance.
- Setting it up is a piece of cake! You’re able to pick the days they receive meals, include dietary restrictions, drop-off instructions, favorite restaurants for takeout, etc.
- You don’t have to be a chef or even live nearby to participate! Ordering takeout from their favorite restaurant or sending a gift card for a meal delivery app like UberEats, Grub Hub, Postmates, etc. will be just as appreciated!
- Tips: Include what you’ll be bringing when you sign-up so others can see it and the new parents don’t end up with lasagna 3 days in a row! Switch it up by bringing breakfast food or all of the fixings to make sandwiches. Set up a cooler on their porch for people to leave food in so that the new parents don’t have to worry about coordinating drop-off times.
Don’t forget older siblings! Yumble delivers delicious, healthy kids’ meals that are ready to eat and include breakfast, lunch/dinner and snack options. Gift a week or two of meals to give new parents one less thing to worry about!
Headed to Costco or Walmart? Shoot your new mom friend a text to see if there’s anything you can grab for them while you’re there! Even if they don’t respond, that’s okay, the offer alone will mean so much.
Help with Older Kids
Figuring out how to pick kids up from school or get them to practice in the midst of newborn feedings can be like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Volunteering to do a pick-up/drop-off or even taking a sibling for a fun outing is a win-win for everyone! You get one-on-one time, the child feels special and the new parents get a break!
Brighten Their Space
New parents are spending lots of time at home, so little touches like a candle or flowers can make a big difference! Another idea is to drop off a good book, stack of magazines, home spa goodies, etc.
It’s never ending with a newborn. Pick-up a load from a new mom or dad and drop it back off fresh and clean. You’ll be a real-life fairy godperson!
A date for new parents can be life giving, even if it’s just for a couple of hours between feedings. Offer to come stay with the baby so that the new parents have an excuse to get showered, dressed and feel human again!
Want a great way to prepare for your babysitting duties? Familiarize yourself with Moms on Call! Understanding the basics will help both you and the new parents to feel more prepared and comfortable.
We were SO fortunate to have both of our moms nearby and on board to help as much as possible. My mother-in-law even bought the 0-6 month book (this was before the online courses existed) and read it cover-to-cover. Despite having 7 kids of her own and 7 older grandchildren who had not followed Moms on Call, she wanted to be there for us and support the way we were choosing to do things. It meant so much to us! (Coincidentally, the next 7 grandchildren have been MOC babies too 😜 !)
As the dust settles and the newness wears off, keep reaching out.
I remember feeling very isolated after the first month passed. My husband had gone back to work and I was by myself all day with my new baby, whose only form of communication at that point was crying! The days were long and often got lonely.
So, share a funny article or post you came across, call with a funny story, text just to say “hi” or invite them for a walk or lunch and you will be sure to make your friend’s day!
I will never forget how much I appreciated my friend who went on my first post-baby Target run with me. I was so scared to leave the house by myself for the first time; having her there to help me navigate parking, the car seat, the stroller, the diaper bag, etc. was so wonderful and appreciated!
I hope that this has given you some ideas for how to help with a new baby that you can pass to your family and friends or that you can use yourself! We’d love to hear about what was most helpful to you during your newborn days and grow this list! Visit us @momsoncall and drop your tips in the comments!