10 Ways to Help a New Family


Picture from Studio 412 Imagery

Picture from Studio 412 Imagery

After a new baby joins a family, it is only natural for friends and family to want to come over and help. These are 10 great ways to help the new family get plenty of time to bond and rest.

1) Bring over a frozen dinner. It can be as simple as a store bought lasagna or something you made and froze to cook later. I had family bring over coolers of prepared food for my husband and I after the birth of our first baby. It was great because we had a hot and ready meal for the first night and then left overs for a few days after. But it was too much for us to eat before it went bad and not all of it would freeze well. By bringing over a frozen meal the new parents can cook it when they are ready and you can fill their freezer for weeks postpartum. Be sure to check for any food allergies or dietary preferences before hand. Don’t Panic Dinner’s in the Freezer has some great make it now, cook it later recipes.

2) Help with light housework. Have the new parents write a list of things that can be done around the house so you don’t have to keep interrupting their rest to ask what else you can do. Some ideas include: doing dishes, wiping down kitchen counters, sweeping/vacuuming, folding and sorting baby clothes, assembling baby furniture, etc. If you can’t help with housework and have the money, you could also hire someone to go over a couple times in the early weeks.

3) Set up rest and snack stations throughout the house. Once the baby is finally settled and sleeping, it can be playing with fire to try and get up. Additionally if mom is breastfeeding, those early days can feel like they are spent in marathon nursing sessions.  Set up baskets where ever they may be throughout the house. Include items like water bottles, snacks, tissues, reading material, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, blankets, etc. Here is a great blog post about setting up breastfeeding stations.

4) Find local support resources. Make a list of local support organizations and people who can help to make their lives easier. If they are breastfeeding, write down when their local La Leche League meets or the number for the local IBCLC. Go to La Leche League International to find local meetings.

5) Hire professional support. There are lots of postpartum support services you can gift to the new parents such as postpartum doulas and housekeepers.  Then if the parents like the services they can chose to extend it further. They can help support and take the pressure off the family and you are supporting local businesses.

6) Run minor errands. Call when you are getting to run to the store for yourself and ask if you can pick anything up for them. See if anything needs to be taken to the post office or recycling center. Just keeping them in mind while you run your own errands can be a huge lifesaver for new parents who should be resting and bonding with their new baby.

7) Make special time for older children. When a new baby comes, older children can sometimes feel jealous or left out as they may no longer feel at the center of attention. Offer to take them out on a special outing just for them. Sibling preparation classes can be useful during pregnancy, particularly if they were an only child and will be having to adjust to sharing their parents for the first time in their life.

8) Help find a supportive and comfortable baby carrier. Many new parents can feel overwhelmed or tied down by the constant demands of a newborn. Having a good baby carrier allows baby to be held close and secure to their caregiver, fulfilling many of their needs, while still allowing for free use of your hands. Many breastfeeding moms find they are able to breastfeed free handed in their carrier, making nursing in public easy and discrete. Do not worry about spoiling your baby by holding them.

9)Be understanding and encouraging. Being a parent is hard, suddenly there is this little person who is completely dependent on your for their every need and has no way to communicate their needs clearly. Whether this is their first baby or not, the addition of this new family member completely changes their life and throws all routines off balance. The best thing you can do is listen without judgment or needing to “fix” the situation. Offer gentle support and ask the parents what they need, rather than tell them what they should be doing differently. If they ask for help, keep their parenting goals in mind and have your list of resources handy.

10) Honor their space. The most important thing new parents need to do is rest and bond with their baby, so be understanding if they are not up for visitors. Follow the parents’ lead, some parents want companionship in the early days, others want to nest with their new one.