Give In Kind is honored to feature Molly Tallon, a birth doula.
When your good friends become parents, you want to be there for them, remain in their lives as part of their village. But if you are honest, babies kind of freak you out. You have no experience with diapers, or strollers, or what the deal is with the “no soft cheese" rule. You don’t want to grow apart, loose them to parenthood.What do you do besides send them something on their registry?
Here is a guide to being an all-star friend, yet remaining in your comfort zone:
DO: Bring or send food! Preferably dinner, and preferably on the early evening side. If you are making it, bring it over in disposable containers or ones that you don’t care about getting back anytime soon, because they have a baby and they don’t have bandwidth for that. Take-out or delivery is also a huge treat! Obviously always take dietary restrictions into account!
DON’T assume you are staying for dinner. If you deliver it yourself, either drop it off on the porch and run away sending a text letting them know their meal waiting for them on the porch, or come in – 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.
DO Complete some kind of household chore without being asked:
“I’m taking out your trash and recycling on my way out."
“I’m going to take Rover on a walk, be back soon!"
“I’m going to switch the laundry and fold this batch, just tell me where everything goes!"
“What day do your cans go out on the street? I’ll come over and make sure it’s done."
DO run errands for them without being asked:
“Hey, I’m at the drug store, I was thinking of you, what can I grab you? Anything?"
“Hey, I’m at the grocery store, what can I bring you?"
“Grabbing lunch at our favorite spot, I’m going to bring over your favorite salad, be there in 30 minutes!"
Here is the tricky part, they will say “No, that’s okay, you don’t have to…" But do it anyway!
My personal favorite: The Ninja Clean: When using the bathroom do a quick, wipe down of the shower, sink and toilet. Take out he garbage, fold the towels, organize the counter top. This will make their day, they will remember it, probably forever.
DO bring or send an accompanying beverage with the meal. Beer, wine, vodka, iced tea, chocolate milk etc.
DO include a snack of some kind: 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 – and maybe only one hand to do it – so anything filling and delicious that requires no prep is so useful.
DON’T offer any advice. From the moment they announced pregnancy they have heard every single variation of advice and horror story from feeding, to epidurals to sleeping or bowel movements. Unless directly asked, don’t tell them that “my cousin said that swaddling causes acid reflux" or that “you should never ice stitches according to ancient Chinese medicine." They are just trying to survive the next five minutes, they don’t need something else to worry about.
DO tell them they are amazing parents already, and doing a great job. Because chances are, it’s true.
DON’T take it personally if you ask or offer to hold the baby and they “sorry, but no." Newborns are happiest in the arms of their parents, and keeping their human contact to a minimum helps protect their brand new immune systems.
DO wash your hands before holding the baby. Do it without being prompted."Great, let me go wash my hands." Even if you believe strongly in microbiome seeding and think that hand washing is ridiculous, always offer to wash your hands. It shows that you care about their comfort and their baby’s safety before your own beliefs, and that makes a great friend.
DON’T take it personally if you don’t hear from them for a while, or if they are not so quick to answer texts, or they forget your birthday, or cancel at the last minute, or maybe just show up thirty minutes late for lunch. It’s really not you. It’s that becoming parent is world shifting. It’s often overwhelming, with all kinds of unexpected challenges. Be patient, be gracious.
DO listen. Sometimes new parents need someone to just listen to their story. This is a gift. If your friend feels safe enough to open up to you about a particular issue affecting them and their new family… you are trusted. Listen with an open mind and heart without judgement. Sometimes they don’t need advice, they just need someone to listen and hug and tell them that it’s going to be okay, even if you aren’t sure it is.
DO remind them that even though they have a baby and things have changed, you’ll always be there for them.
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