Best Ways to Support a New Parent
The Best Ways To Support a New Parent: Physically and Emotionally
September 29, 2022

The Best Ways To Support a New Parent: Physically and Emotionally

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The Best Ways To Support a New Parent: Physically and Emotionally.
The Best Ways To Support a New Parent: Physically and Emotionally

There’s a brand-new baby in your life—hooray!

It can be tempting to focus all the attention on the baby, but don’t forget that the parents are undergoing a gigantic change in their lives, too. They might be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, lonely or uncertain. Once you take a break from shouting for joy, you might start to wonder how you can express your love and support for the brave (and probably exhausted) people who brought this little one into the world.

Whether you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend or neighbor, there are a lot of things you can do to make the days (and nights!) just a little bit easier for new parents who need your help. Even the simplest gestures can make a world of difference in a new parent’s life.

If you happen to have had a baby recently, you might know exactly what to do. But if you’ve never had a child—or if your children are older—you might need some tips to point you in the right direction.

That’s why we’ve created this guide with suggestions about how to show your support whether you’re near or far, whether you want to purchase a gift or spend nothing at all and whether you have tons of time or just five minutes to spare.

Remember that you are a hugely important part of the parents’ support system—you are their village—and you can make a major difference in their day by doing something as easy as dropping off a giant cup of their favorite cold brew.

What You Can Do for New Parents in Five Minutes or Less

1. Check in on them

Technology makes it easier than ever to send a quick text, voicemail, Marco Polo video message, Voxer audio message or connect online in a thousand different ways. Parents can read messages when they have a moment to breathe and know that you’re rooting for them. To avoid adding pressure to respond, let parents off the hook at the end of your message: “No need to text me back. Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you!”

2. Tell them they’re doing a great job

Remember that newborns are generally the boss. Parents are there to fetch and carry and feed and burp and change diapers without a word of thanks…or even a smile. Dr. Beck says that new parents “silently suffer” because “we are told to have it all together…that first year is wonderful but also extremely difficult.” Taking 30 seconds to tell new parents that you acknowledge how hard they’re working or how well they’re caring for baby can totally change the tone of their day. A sincere compliment will go a very long way in a new parent’s life.

3. Respect their wishes

New parents need to make a bazillion decisions about how to care for a tiny newborn, and many of those decisions feel like matters of life-or-death. For example, the decision of when/how/why to feed a baby is an extremely complicated and personal one that can trigger a lot of emotion in the birthing parent. This decision also tends to elicit a ton of feedback from everyone from grandmothers to random passersby. Everyone seems to have an opinion. But the best thing you can do is to support new parents’ choices, whatever they may be.

How Grandparents Can Help New Parents

1. Resist telling them how to do things

Jayne Freeman, a postpartum doula and Certified Childbirth Educator, says that a good portion of her work with new parents is helping them manage their own families, especially their mothers and mothers-in-law. “A new parent needs to make her own errors, and more importantly, make her own successes,” says Freeman.

Freeman sees the closest relationships form with relatives who don’t argue, keep their mouths shut about differences of opinion and let parents do things their own way. She urges grandparents to remember that “you may have walked your child to kindergarten, but you didn’t sit next to them at school all day.”

2. Be ready to jump in at a moment’s notice

In the haze of raising a newborn, parents may not be aware of what they want or need until the very moment they need it. You can put their mind at ease by remaining flexible and ready to help as needed, whether you live nearby or far away. You may tell the parents that you’re on hand to run over to the house to hold a fussy baby for 20 minutes while they shower. Or maybe you’re ready and willing to do an online search for “how to remove baby spit-up from antique rug.” Your willingness to just be there will certainly reassure a new parent trying to make it through the day.

3. Keep an eye out for their mental health

It’s normal for 50 to 80 percent of birth parents to experience weepiness and mood swings during the two or three weeks after giving birth. If the change in mood or behavior continues beyond that point and begins to affect daily life, the parent may be experiencing perinatal or postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). These are very serious—but very treatable—illnesses that are often incorrectly dismissed as “baby blues.” You know your child best. If you notice that they are experiencing an extended period of sadness, anxiety, irritability or obsessionality, you may want to encourage them to seek help.

How To Help New Parents From a Distance

1. Send food

Most new parents are more concerned with what the newborn is eating than what they’re eating. By sending a gift card to Seamless, Uber Eats or a local restaurant with delivery service, you’re making it very easy for them to take care of themselves. If you want to send a recurring gift, think about a subscription to a meal kit service like Freshly or Sunbasket. You can also send a treat from your hometown through a service like Goldbelly. And best of all, there are no dishes to wash or return!

2. Send book/television/movie/podcast suggestions

With a newborn in the house, you tend to have many, many sleepless hours to fill. It’s so mind-numbing that it can often feel like you’ve scrolled to the end of the Internet. Help a parent out by providing done-for-you lists of books, shows, movies or podcasts that might be of interest. If you really want to go for the gold, include links to each item so overwhelmed parents will have one less thing to do.

3. Show older siblings some love

Though of course everyone is anxious to help out with the newborn, you may be of better service to parents by giving older brothers and sisters your undivided attention. Maybe you talk to siblings while mom lays down, maybe you play dolls for a half hour via video chat or maybe you schedule a group watch through a streaming service and talk to the siblings about the show afterward. Having special time with an older child—who may be jealous of baby—goes a long way to relieving exhausted parents who are trying to split their attention between multiple children.

Want To Send Something Physical? Thoughtful Gifts New Parents Love

When everything in life seems to be about the new baby and every day feels exactly the same, it can be thrilling to get a package in the mail that’s just for you! These parent-focused gifts will show them how much you care in a very tangible way.

Give the Gift of Recovery

Send a postpartum care package.

Bink
To remind parents to drink water when time seems to have no meaning
Buy Now
FridaMom
Essentials to jump-start recovery in an easy-access caddy.
Buy Now
Apple
So they can roam freely, make phone calls, bop to music and listen to podcasts with minimal disruption to baby
Buy Now

Give the Gift of Comfort

Gifts so cozy they feel like a hug.

UGG
To keep their feet warm during middle-of-the-night wakeups.
Buy Now
Barefoot Dreams
Buttery-soft and suitable for wear inside and outside the house.
Buy Now
Hatch Collection
Round-the-clock wear chic enough for visitors to see.
Buy Now

Give the Gift of Sanity

To lighten the mental load of caring for the family.

Give Mom Her Groove Back

For when she wants to look presentable but nothing fits.

Hill House
Stretchy top makes breastfeeding/pumping a breeze and the full skirt is flattering for postpartum bodies.
Buy Now
Hatch Collection
Insanely accommodating stretch keeps her looking good through every postpartum phase.
Buy Now
Nuuly
Perfect for moms whose clothing sizes and needs will continue to change.
Buy Now
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