© Dani Lodhi-Dunne
I don't know about you, but this time of year always seems rife with new arrivals and bundles of joy! Maybe you have a family member or a friend who has just welcomed a new baby into their lives and you're wondering how best to support them? Read on for some ideas...
Don't turn up unannounced. Ever. Not unless you're prepared for your friend to open the door while breastfeeding/crying/holding a projectile vomiting child, or all three (totally not speaking from personal experience here). A text warning of your planned visit will suffice (NOT a phone call. Don't wake the baby up!).
Don't ask how their baby is sleeping. If a baby is a good sleeper, the parents will fall over themselves to tell you. If not...just observe their haggard faces, shaking hands and dark circles, and make them a nice cuppa.
On that note - do make your own drinks/snacks if you're visiting in the early days. Maybe your pal made a cracking cup of tea B.C (before child), or maybe their coffee machine is intimidatingly high-tech. It doesn't matter now - life has changed. If you want a drink, don't expect the new parent to make it! If you want extra brownie points, make your friend a drink too...
Do offer to hold the baby so they can have a drink, or even better, a nap! Equally, if you're meeting a new mum and her baby at a cafe or restaurant, offer to take baby so she can eat some food with both hands. While it's still hot. It'll make her day.
Don't be scared of holding the baby! If you don't spend much time around newborns, it might be intimidating at first, but they're more robust than you think. Make sure you support their heads, and for ultimate snuggles, get yourself in a comfortable position and let them rest their heads on your chest. Ensure their airways aren't blocked, have one hand cradling their head and one under their bottom and there you go! You're rocking this.
Do bring food! The general consensus on forums and Facebook groups is that you cannot go wrong with food. In fact, a health visitor once told me that biscuits were essential for the early days, ergo, they're a health food. If you're a dab hand in the kitchen, why not whip up something hearty for your pals to heat up later. Bonus points if they can eat it one-handed.
Do respect the parents' wishes. Maybe they don't believe in cry-it-out methods. Maybe they can't afford cloth nappies. Maybe they adore Gina Ford. Try not to meddle with their decisions.
Do offer advice - but don't be judgemental. It's very tempting to bring up your own experiences with little ones when talking to a new parent, but every baby is different. If they are reaching out to you for advice, great - fire away! If not, maybe keep your opinions on bottle v breast to yourself. And absolutely, never, ever, ever, mention sleep regression. Just nope.
Don't post photos on social media before asking a parent's permission. You might have taken a banging selfie with bub, or maybe you snapped a cute pic of little one napping, and you can't wait to upload it to Instagram. Check with the parents first!
On the topic of photography, do take photos of the parents with their child. Especially Mum. If you're not sure why this is being advised, have a look through your own childhood photos. How many of them feature your mum? Exactly.
Don't stress about timings - things move slowly with a newborn and your friend is most likely finding their feet. If you're meeting outside of their home, expect a delay while they try to navigate leaving the house with baby paraphernalia. On the bright side, being around a baby forces you to slow down, which can sometimes be a breath of fresh air in this fast-moving world. See it as an opportunity to take a breath yourself.
Do remember your friend is still your friend, even if it might feel like they have changed immeasurably since becoming a parent. Somewhere buried underneath all the muslin cloths and the nappies, your friend is still the person you loved hanging out with prior to the baby's arrival. Don't drop them from the group chat, don't assume they won't want to hang out just because they have a tiny bundle attached to them at all times. They might welcome a night out once in a while, or even just a catch up over coffee. The first year of being a parent can be lonely!
Any more do's and don'ts when it comes to visiting new parents? Let us know in the comments!