What To Do for New Parents in the First Month

September 17, 2019

I first shared this post this past April after our best friends had their first baby, and now with the arrival of sweet June coming at any moment (if she hasn’t already made her appearance), I figured it was worth sharing again. Enjoy!

If you listen to our podcast, Mom and Dad Made a Podcast, you know our best friends, Jake and Leah, recently became parents. Putting my emotions into words as I watch this immense transformation has honestly been hard for me. It’s been one of those life changing, pivotal moments for two of the people Zack and I care the most about and on top of it, we know it will change our friendship with them in the best way. Because, well, they’re part of the parent club now! There’s a whole new element of life we can all relate on and lets just say I can pretty much cry at the drop of a hack. So many emotions!

Jake and Leah are also in a very similar boat to the one we were in when Owen was born. They’re living in Brooklyn, away from all of their family with just a handful of friends to lean on. We knew when they shared the exciting news that they were expecting that we wanted to be here for them in anyway we could be. Of course it’s different for every set of new parents, but after talking to our friends and reflecting on our own experience we’ve gathered ten ways we think you can help new parents in the first month. Some of these were super helpful for us, some we have done for our pals and some we still need to tackle, but overall I think this is a great list if your friends are first time parents and you’re unsure of exactly how you can help.

1. Always, always, ALWAYS bring coffee. Find out what kind of coffee brewer they have at home, whether or not they have a grinder so you know whether to bring them ground or whole bean and stock them up. Any parent who has been there knows that coffee is an absolute lifesaver in those first few weeks. Plus, isn’t there just something about the smell of coffee that is ten times better after you’re officially a parent? I couldn’t do this motherhood thing without it!

2. If they’re comfortable and ready, get them outside. I know from my own experience that getting out the door was one of my biggest anxieties in the first few weeks of Owen’s life. Having someone there, in my neighborhood to ask to go for a walk, to the park or to swing by a bakery or grab a beer was all the motivation I needed to get everything together and get out the door. Keep in mind that if they’re breastfeeding they will most likely want to stay close to home so they can pop back in. Try to plan outings that are conducive to their very new schedule and remember there will be plenty of times where plans are changed last minute – it’s all part of newborn life!

3. Bring something to eat, every time you stop by. You know your friends better than I do, but for our buds this has meant picking up the groceries we know are more challenging to sneak out to get, listening close to those cravings, making sure they’ve had breakfast, lunch or dinner before we come by and grabbing something if needed, or just simply asking if they want or need anything. Remember that it’s an adjustment for new parents to accept the help and that they might not say they need or want something every time, but keep asking! Let them know you’re happy to help.

4. Always be there to listen and only give advice when asked. It’s so tempting when our friends become parents to start dishing out advice, but I think it’s crucial that you make an effort to truly just listen unless you’re asked for advice. This is true whether your baby is a month, a year or ten years old. A lot of the time parents are just looking for someone to hear them out. From my own experience I’ve never had trouble asking for advice, but have absolutely taken unsolicited advice the wrong way.

5. Ask before you surprise them with new baby gear. This might be more of a city dweller issue, but we simply do not have space for unaccounted baby gear, large boxes of diapers or wipes. Seems ungrateful or silly, but there just isn’t the room in most New York City apartments. It’s of course so kind to want to bring a generous gift, but I would suggest checking in and making sure it’s something they really need or want first.

6. Gift cards are the best gifts. Due to that small space living and just general overload most new parents experience, I would highly suggest bringing / emailing gift cards to your friends. A few I knew were particularly helpful for us were for services like Seamless or Postmates for take-out meals, shops like Target or Amazon where you could purchase diapers when needed or grocery delivery services like Instacart.

7. When you visit, fix your focus on the new parents first, baby second. Walk in and try to assess the situation. Do they need a shower? Their sink of dishes done? A nap? Someone to sit on the couch and talk to? Don’t immediately go for the baby unless you can tell they simply want a break or directly ask you. While of course it is so exciting to squeal at the beautiful life your friends have just created, remember to first and foremost look them in the eye and do what you can to help them. Baby snuggles can and will happen later, I promise. The baby needs their parents, but your friends need you.

8. Know when to give space. Our friends had a lot of company right after their baby was born as I imagine most new parents do. We did our best to check in without being too overbearing (I hope, hah). There are going to be times you’re needed more as a friend and other times where you need to take more of a backseat. And this is true with or without visitors in town. We all go through stretches of parenthood where we just want to bunker down at home and not be bothered (sleep regressions, teething, etc.). Respect that space and don’t take it personally – parenthood is intense to navigate, especially in the newborn days.

9. Offer a future date night. There’s so much you want to do in that first month to help your friends out that you just really can’t jump in on. Overall the baby wants their parents, especially their mama, and you really just have the ability to assist them in anyway you can. Make it clear early on that when they are ready for a date night that you’re their guy or girl. Not only is this a kind and generous gesture, but it gives your friends something to look forward to!

10. Run their errands! I mentioned this briefly when it comes to bringing food, but don’t be afraid to ask them if they have any errands they’ve had trouble getting to since their little one was born. Trips to the post office, laundromat, pharmacy and so on are often times a whole lot easier without a newborn!

Photography by Amy Frances. Stroller by Cybex.

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