6 ways you can help a new parent
I have come to recognize the “newborn parent” look the second I walk into the exam room for the baby’s first check up. The “deer in the headlights” gaze, eyes puffy from the sudden shock of sleepless nights. Mom in yoga pants, hair in a ponytail, makeup long forgotten, long list of questions in hand. Dad gingerly holding the baby like a china doll for fear of breaking her with any move he may make. I smile understandingly, remembering all too well my own feelings of overwhelming helplessness after my first son was born.
As I look back on my own first days and weeks as a new mom, I realize I couldn’t have survived them without nearby friends and family. Sure I could care for the baby medically and knew what I should and shouldn’t worry about, but exhaustion and fluctuating hormones take a toll on anyone, pediatrician or not!
Many people want to help out new parents, but have no idea how. If you know someone who has recently had a little one, here are a few ways to help in those first few difficult weeks:
1. Cook meals. I was fortunate enough to have members of my church bring dinner every night for the first two weeks I was home from the hospital, which was a lifesaver! If you know someone who has just had a baby, this is probably the number one way you can help out. Even if you don’t know someone well enough to go into their home and cook it, simply dropping it off at the doorstep would be much appreciated.
2. Go to the grocery store. Close friends and family members would likely appreciate a few staples such as milk, bread, etc. from the grocery store every few days, instead of having to make the trip themselves.
3. Take the older sibling for a few hours. If this is baby number two (or more), life can be especially hectic with the addition of a new baby. By taking the older one(s) out of the house for a few hours to the park, zoo, or ice cream shop, you give parents a few precious minutes alone with their newest family member or time to catch a few minutes of rest!
4. Do a load of laundry. With a new baby, laundry is a never-ending chore. Moms in those first couple weeks may still be sore from delivery, so even bending to load the dryer could be a problem. A simple load of laundry could ease the burden.
5. Pick up the house. Household chores are usually an afterthought in the wake of a new baby, and the dirty dishes and dust can quickly pile up. Grab a sponge or broom, and dive in! New moms may hesitate to ask for help in this area for fear of imposing, but likely the offer will not be turned down.
6. Help with the baby. If the parents are willing, offer to help care for the baby, so they can get some rest. Care for the baby for a few hours by offering a bottle and changing the diaper to let mom rest.
Parents may be hesitant to ask for help after the birth of a new baby, but don’t let that deter you from jumping in. Even a few simple gestures will most certainly be well received.