7 Tips for Meeting a New Baby
Birth is a joyful time – and a stressful one. Here’s how to handle a visit to a newborn like a pro.
Following the birth of a baby, family and friends often come to visit in the hospital or at home. Many will come toting balloons, flowers, and adorable baby clothes along with hugs, snuggles, and cameras. But whether you’re an enthusiastic godparent or an uncomfortable new uncle, you can lessen the parents’ stress and win some brownie points by leaving the balloons behind and following these tips for meeting a newborn:
1. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY
In an age of online birth announcements and texting, tone and intent are sometimes lost in translation. Be mindful of the words you use and their implications when sending your congratulations, and never comment negatively on another person’s journey to parenthood. It might sound silly to you, but well-intentioned phrases like “at least the baby is healthy” or “it’s a good thing you had the epidural” might be upsetting to someone whose experienced complications during labor.
2. ALWAYS CALL BEFORE YOU VISIT
It’s OK for the parents to want to spend time alone with their new baby and get a chance to introduce him or her to loved ones at their own pace. No matter what you do, you will not be the baby’s favorite person. This is a huge adventure for them, too! Understand that being held and passed around among visitors is really stressful for newborns because all they want is to be snuggled, fed, and soothed by their parents day and night. Let mom and dad hold the baby and wait until you are offered a chance.
3. HELP AROUND THE HOUSE
There is a lot more to this parenting gig than changing diapers, giving baths, and singing lullabies. Taking care of a newborn is a lot of work, and there are still a lot of other responsibilities to take care of. Doing a load of laundry, washing dishes, or sanitizing bottles only takes a few minutes, but it can relieve a lot of stress.
4. BRING GRUB
It doesn’t have to be an elaborate multi-course extravaganza. As long as it tastes good and requires little to no prep work for the new parents, it’ll do the trick.
5. HANG OUT WITH THE BIG KIDS
While the parents may be taking care of the baby, they’re not the only ones adjusting to the changes. Spending time with older siblings can help remind them that they are equally loved and appreciated. Even if they’ve welcomed a new baby before, the adjustment is unique each time. Try taking them out of the house for an adventure, play date, or sleepover. This way you can give the older kids some individual attention while giving their parents an opportunity to relax.
6. ZIP IT ON THE ADVICE
Everyone’s experience is different regardless if they’ve given birth, adopted, chosen a surrogate, or become foster parents. Modern parents are surrounded by countless blogs, forums, websites, and other media outlets offering conflicting recommendations, which makes it hard to absorb all of the information available. When you add the static noise of unsolicited advice, it becomes even more confusing. Try not to compare your own experiences with theirs or push your own opinions. Every family is different, and what works for some may not work for others. Respecting their choices and parenting philosophies will go a long way in encouraging their confidence and showing that you support them.
7. BE A GOOD FRIEND
The weeks following birth are especially important to the parents, the baby, and the rest of the family. But as time goes by and the baby grows older, there will be fewer visitors. New parents may find themselves progressively becoming more isolated from others. Keep checking back in and offering your support. Postpartum depression, one of the more commonly known postpartum mood disorders, can manifest weeks after birth and has extreme symptoms such as panic attacks, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. Partners are susceptible to a similar depression called paternal postnatal depression.
At the end of the day, your love and enthusiasm alone will be appreciated, but it never hurts to go the extra mile. You never know, maybe you’ll want them to return the favor sometime soon!