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The 5 Best Things You Can Do for a Couple with a Newborn

posted: 07/16/15
by: Blythe Copeland
new parents new baby tired sleeping
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Everyone knows you can bring dinner--but what else can you do to really help parents with a new baby? It might not be what you think.

1. Bring food

For couples adjusting to a newborn, popping a pre-made dish into the oven at mealtime can be a lifesaver--but think outside the casserole next time you're preparing food for a new family. Consider bringing food for other meals, like a baked oatmeal dish, muffins, or bagels for breakfast, sandwiches or a quiche for lunch with a bag of pre-washed salad greens on the side; or a wide array of snacks: hummus and sliced vegetables, fresh fruit, cookies, cheese sticks and crackers, granola bars, and nuts. Keeping the fridge stocked with easy-to-grab snacks will keep your friends' energy up even when they don't remember to heat that casserole until 9 pm.

2. Walk the dog

Or feed the cat, or stop at the post office, or pick up a pack of toilet paper, or get the dry cleaning: Pick any chore or errand that's easier to do without a newborn (hint: this is pretty much any chore or errand you can think of) and volunteer to take it off their agenda. Bonus if you can think of something they have, in their newborn haze, forgotten even has to be done -- like returning the library books, picking up the dry cleaning, or buying more dog food.

3. Hire a housecleaner

We know your intentions are good when you show up and insist on vacuuming or doing the dishes, but unless you're one of the grandmothers or the new mom's best friend, you're better off hiring a professional to do the true dirty work. Most moms feel awkward making their guests clean up after them when the guest is really there to meet the baby, and no one really wants extended family and friends to see the filthiest corners of their home. (You can, however, offer to hold the baby while the mom does a few chores--she may appreciate the chance to move around by herself for a few minutes.)

4. Bring entertainment

Babies spend a lot of time eating and sleeping -- which means new parents spend a lot of time sitting around with them. Bring movies, television shows on DVD, books, or subscriptions to Netflix, Next Issue (an app for magazines), or Hulu Plus. If there are older siblings, offer to entertain them, too, either by taking them out of the house for a little while, playing a board game or other complicated activity that the parents might not have the energy for, or by bringing a craft or activity book they can work on while mom is busy with the baby.

5. Leave them alone

Of course new parents are excited to have their friends and family meet their new little one, but resist the temptation to bombard them all at once. Give them a few days to settle in before you start asking to visit, and respect them if they say they aren't ready for visitors yet. When you do visit, keep it short -- an hour or so is usually enough -- and be flexible about when you visit so you can accommodate the baby's schedule as much as possible. And no matter how much experience you have with babies, don't start telling them what they should be doing differently: If they ask for advice, give it kindly, but otherwise keep it to yourself.