I recently dropped of a meal off to a new mama who welcomed her second child. As a mom of a little one myself, I know first hand what a blessing it is to get a meal from someone. First of all, you don’t have to worry about cooking and you can (if you’re up for it) socialize a little. I’ve also made it a policy of mine when I bring food to bring it in a large aluminum pan with a lid. I think it costs $1 but it’s worth to me to know that a family doesn’t have to worry about returning a dish (and I don’t need to remember that I leant them one).
I believe it is so important to give some special time and attention to the new moms (and dads) that just welcomed a baby. For me personally, having a newborn was one the most exhausting times of my life. I was beyond sleep deprived and my emotions were intensified. I was especially sensitive to what others would say about me or my child. For example, when I received advice from hyper confident moms who were sure my son was crying because of this or that reason, I took it pas gospel. I knew these moms were just trying to help and nothing is wrong with this kind of mom. However, in my emotional state, some words were crushing and hurtful that I took WAY to personally, piling high on my already mounting first time parent insecurities.
While reading through Job, recently I came across the following passage. Job 16:5 (NIV) says, “But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief“. Job was in a situation where he was in need of encouragement but a lot of his friends were playing the blame game. Some parents do this as well to newborn parents i.e. your baby would be so much happier if you fed the child more/less, burped more/less, held more or less etc.
There are a lot of things “Don’t” lists when it comes to conversing with new parents and most of the ones I’ve read I whole heartedly agree with but in the spirit of positivity, here are somethings you can say to brighten a new mom (or dad’s day).
- DO Tell them they have a beautiful/sweet baby.
No new parent EVER got tired of hearing how beautiful their child is. I guarantee it. I’m sure they won’t mind hearing how lovely their baby is. Trust me.
- DO offer to help in a way you feel comfortable.
I’m very blessed to have a lot of loving friends and church family in my life. I didn’t take everyone up on their offers but it was just nice to know during those first few months after having my son that I was not alone. If you can cook offer a meal, if you are a baby person offer to come over and just hold the baby so the new mom or dad can shower or clean, if you have a really close relationship with the parents, offer to come over and help with laundry. These are all godsends but do whatever you feel most comfortable with. If you’re not into cooking, offer to pay for takeout – the parents of the little one will GREATLY appreciate it.
- If you’ve had a child DO listen to the new parents story and share stories of your own.
As I was visiting with my new mom friend we had a very honest conversation about what it’s like those first few months. Neither one of us are newborn baby people. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE other peoples newborn babies but I was so exhausted and the days were so long, I didn’t feel like myself until my little guy was at least 4 or 5 months old and I was no longer experiencing mom-somnia. My friend shared with me some of her struggles and I did my best to just listen, empathize and share my own stories when appropriate. I recalled from my early days in the newborn fog not knowing if I was getting up at 5 am or 5 pm to feed my baby. We got teary, we laughed, we hugged. I was able to reassure her that this time will not last forever even though it can feel the never ending story.
- DO offer help HAPPILY.
I told my friend that she can call or come over whenever she needed. My friend and I discussed the façade that can be put on after a baby is born that everything is perfect. I sure felt that way. I told her that if she ever wanted to have an honest conversation she was more than welcome to with me. It’s little things like this that make new parents feel at ease.
- DO ask the new parent how they are doing.
Everyone under the sun will ask a new parent how the baby is doing, how often the sleep, eat, cry, what their temperament is like etc. But in my experience I found that sometimes people forgot about me. I always enjoyed being asked about how I was doing. It was nice to know that people still cared about me and not just my adorable little nugget.
- DO say hi to the new parents first.
It’s amazing how many people will give your new baby attention, which is great. However, I remember people coming up to my son and talking to him instead of me. He had no idea what was going but I did and I was a little hurt. Again, they didn’t have bad intentions but in my hyper sensitive state I took it to heart.
- DO ask if you can hold/touch their baby.
So many people would come up to my husband and I with open arms ready to hold our little guy. That’s fine if you are like REALLY close family otherwise it’s nice to ask if you can hold the baby. It prevents the potentially awkward situation of them telling you no.
- DO look to see if the baby is sleeping before you bother the parents and baby.
I can remember times that our son would be sleeping and people would come up to us and start talking loudly or getting in his face. Sometimes he slept through it but sometimes he woke up. I’m a big believer in don’t wake a sleeping baby. It’s not that you can’t converse with a new parent but be mindful of the infant when you do.
I hope this list has helped inspire you to encourage a new parent that you know. What do you do for new parents? How do you reassure them?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!