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Give In Kind is honored to feature Molly Barraza Tallon, a birth doula.
You are child-free and your good friend(s) just became parents. You want to help – but you have no idea what to do. Truth be told, babies kind of freak you out. Here is a guide to being an all-star friend, while still remaining in your comfort zone.
Bring a meal if you can. Bring an early evening dinner. Don’t forget to provide disposable containers, or containers that are gifts to them. (They won’t have time to keep track of food vessels). If homemade dishes aren’t your thing, take out is appreciated. If you are a good friend but just not yet a baby person, feel free to simply have a meal delivered as a gift from you.
If and when you deliver your meal, don’t assume that you are staying. If you deliver food yourself, drop it off on the porch and run away sending a text to let friends know it is there. If you do come into the house, do so quietly. Bring the meal to the table or the kitchen. Give a hug, a wave, or a high-five. Tell them how cute their baby is. Tell them they look amazing.
Complete a tedious household chore without being asked. Just say “I’m taking out your trash and recycling on my way out.” The same rule applies to camping and new baby visitation: leave their home a bit better/cleaner than when you arrived. They will protest, but do it anyway. Walk or feed the dog/cat/parakeet. Do the dishes. Perform the Ninja Clean: pretend to use the bathroom but while you are in there scrub the tub, wipe down the shower, sink and toilet. This will make their day.
Bring a beverage with the meal. Mom may want to have a glass of wine – she has been abstaining for months. Go for it – beer, wine, vodka, iced tea, or chocolate milk. They are all good.
Include a snack. Trail mix, popcorn, granola bars, cheese sticks or your famous homemade oatmeal cookies. New parents often only have a few minutes (or seconds) at a time to nourish themselves. They tend only to have one hand to work with. Anything filling and delicious that requires no prep is so useful.
Don’t offer advice. Since they decided to become parents they have heard every single variation of unsolicited advice. Unless they ask, don’t offer. They are just trying to survive the next five minutes. They don’t need something else to worry about. Tell them they are amazing parents already. That they are doing a great job. Because chances are, it’s true. They have got this.
DO wash your hands before holding the baby. Do it without being prompted. If you ask to hold the baby and they agree, say that you will as soon as you wash your hands. Even if you believe strongly in microbiome seeding and think that hand washing is ridiculous – this is not the time. Always offer to wash your hands. It shows that you care about their comfort. It demonstrates that you put the safety of baby first. This makes you a great friend.
Listen Closely. Sometimes new parents need someone to just listen to their story. This is a gift. Your friend feels safe enough to open up to you about a particular issue. You are trusted. Listen with an open mind and heart and without judgement. Sometimes they don’t need advice. They just need someone to listen. Hug and tell them that it’s going to be okay – even if you aren’t sure it is.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.