Updated: May 6, 2018
Before I was a parent I was pretty clueless and was the unhelpful one that just wanted to hold the baby, or tried to hang out and talk to my friend after she put baby down for a nap (when what she should have been doing was taking a nap too!). It wasn't that I didn't want to be helpful, I just didn't know how hard it was to be a new parent and how much help was needed. Now I know-boy do I know and wish someone had clued me in. I wish someone had clued in my visitors too when I was a new parent. Maybe I should have posted this list to my front door-or would that have been too much?
1. Don't bring illness with you
If you are sick, have the sniffles or someone in your household is sick please, please don't share with a new family. There is plenty of time to visit when everyone is healthy. Even if you aren't sick make sure you wash your hands as soon as you enter the house.
2. Bring some yummy food with you
It doesn't have to be a full-on meal though that would be appreciated! Muffins, healthy snacks and some tea from their fav place would be great.
3. Don't ask to hold the baby
If mom or dad offers to hand you the baby feel free, but don't assume all new parents are comfortable with giving up their precious bundle even for a few minutes.
4. Ask how mom and dad are doing/feeling
Its often all about baby and no one remembers to ask how the parents are doing. Many new parents aren't getting enough sleep, are recovering physically from the birth and may be suffering from baby blues so any acknowledgment about their feelings is important for their mental health.
5. Always offer to do something before you leave
If you ask "what can I do to help", most often you will get a "umm I don't know" or "Oh, you don't need to do anything, just sit with me". New parents really do want and need help but they are just being polite, so instead look around and find something that needs doing and just do it-laundry, dishes, make a bed or clean a toilet. If you don't feel comfortable jumping in then say something like "Hey I'd really like to do some dishes or fold laundry, would you mind humoring me so I feel helpful?" Few parents will turn you down.
Kristen Pearson is a childbirth educator, doula and owner of Flagstaff Childbirth. She loves spending time with her 3 crazy kids and husband, running, being outside and spending time with friends.