How to help friends, family when a new baby arrives
This month one of my very best friends is expecting her second child.
I’m so excited to meet this new little person, to hold a brand new baby, to curl the infant’s tightly clenched fingers around my index finger, to smell the top of his or her head, and then, to give the baby back to Mom and Dad and go home — to my full household with four growing-up children — where we all typically sleep through the night and everyone wears underwear.
I know the lives of my friends will change forever on their new little child’s birthday. It will be wonderful and hard at the same time. As we all know, parenting isn’t easy, but it can bring much joy, wonder and fulfillment. I’ll enjoy watching this new little person grow and change, and I’m eager to offer my support and friendship to the whole family along the way.
Now that my own children are growing older, I have a little more of myself to give to others who are welcoming babies into the world. I can pay forward the acts of kindness and support offered to my own family when my children were born to others who are expanding their families.
I know from experience, simple acts of kindness can make a big difference when a new baby joins a home. If you know someone who’s expecting, and you’d like to do something both kind and helpful, consider these suggestions:
Offering meals is a classic and practical way to offer support to an expanding family. But, if you have your own young children at home, it can be hard enough to get a meal on your own table!
I suggest being a little creative. One of my favorite meals to give a new family is breakfast. We raise chickens, so I always have an extra dozen of fresh eggs on hand. Those accompanied by a loaf of nice bread and some homemade jam is always well received.
Muffins, quick breads or other healthful, sustaining snacks that can be enjoyed anytime of day are also ideal for overwhelmed families.
If you have the time, providing a full meal is always a wonderful gesture; however, do communicate with the family, so they aren’t overwhelmed with a freezer full of lasagnas.
When we had our last baby, a group of thoughtful friends coordinated a meal calendar to provide our family with suppers for a couple of weeks.
That thoughtfulness and genuine outreach of support from a community of friends meant so much, more than any material gift.
Share your time
Attending to an older sibling — or even holding a baby while a new mama takes a shower — can be very helpful in those first few weeks of transition. Maybe you could offer to pick something up at the grocery store or run an errand for the family.
I know I appreciated some conversation with grown-ups either on the phone or during scheduled visits from friends when I was home on maternity leave.
Check in later, too
Those first six weeks after bringing an infant home are tough. And often much of the support and attention comes in those first few weeks. But months 3, 24 and 62 can be just as challenging in different ways.
Wherever we are in our journey, let’s make a commitment to each other as parents to do what we can to support each other. Most of all, as parents, let’s do all we can to shower all children with love.
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher and mother of four. She lives in Northeastern Minnesota. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out her blog at kidsandeggs.com.