If you’re in that stage of life where a new friend is growing their family every other day (same!), you know how that new parents face all kinds of stress. As a society, we still have a loooong way to go when it comes to supporting new moms and dads. So it’s totally normal if you aren’t sure what you can do to relieve some of that overwhelm for your new parent friends.
We put together a list of ways you can *actually* help out new parents in those first few weeks and months as they adjust to their new normal.
27 Ways to Support a New Mom or Dad:
1. Take them a meal.
One thing a new mom or dad doesn’t want to have to do: cook a meal in the first days home with their little one. Consider taking them some pre-cooked meals they can keep in the freezer and just pop in the oven at dinner time, or stop by at meal time with something hot and ready to go! (Just make sure you ask if it’s okay before dropping by unannounced).
If they have other children at home, make some kid-friendly favorites for easy grab-and-go lunches. Bonus points if can be eaten cold! Think: individual servings of salad, a variety of yummy pinwheels, simple yogurt parfaits, or hummus and cut veggies.
2. Start a meal train.
Not a huge cook? Organizing a meal train is a great way to help new parents – without the responsibility of doing all the cooking. Use a service like mealtrain.com, or put together a simple Google Calendar you can share with friends and family of the new parents. Each person can pick a day that works for them and drop off a homemade or carryout meal. Make sure you include helpful details about dietary preferences, allergies, or any other restrictions to keep the number of questions sent to the new parents to a MINIMUM!
3. Run some errands for them.
No one really likes going to the post office, picking up pet supplies, or running by the library dropbox to return that book that you never actually read. But those tasks are SO much harder with a new baby in tow. Support the new parents in your life by offering to run a few of those errands for them.
Be as specific as possible when you offer help! A general offer to “help however you can” is probably going to get overlooked. The new parents just don’t have the time or mental space to come up with a list of things to ask you to do – and even if they did, they may not want to dump a task on you without knowing for sure that you’d be willing and able to help with it specifically. Instead of being general, ask something like, “I’m going to be running a few errands tomorrow. Can I pick anything up for you at Target, Pet Smart, or Trader Joe’s?”
4. Offer to babysit.
If they have other children in the home, offer to take the kids for a few hours to give the new parents some time to rest with the baby. Or, if this is the first child, offer to come sit with the baby while the new parents take a nap.
5. Keep in touch!
It may sound obvious, but one easy way to support new parents is simply by staying in touch and being a listening ear. Text them to let them know you’re thinking about them, ask them how they’re doing, and tell them how beautiful their baby is. Being home with a new baby is wonderful, but it can also feel isolating – especially for single parents or after one of the parents returns to work. Gently check in on your friend often to help him or her feel more connected to the outside world.
6. Pet sit.
Adding a new family member can be a little overwhelming for pets. One way to help the new parents is to offer to take their dog or cat for the first few days so they don’t have to worry about getting the pet adjusted to the new baby while they’re still adjusting to everything themselves!
Another option is to offer to walk their dog for them for the first few days (or take Fido to the dog park if that’s more your speed). Walking a rambunctious dog + a days-old baby isn’t at the top of most new parents’ wishlists, so this is sure to be appreciated.
7. Don’t give parenting advice.
Bring the casseroles, but leave the negativity at the door. If the new parents don’t ask for your advice, don’t give any. Your friend is looking out for what’s best for their baby and they’re probably facing criticism and #MomShaming more often than you’d think.
So keep your comments supportive and try not to burden her with a long list of things you think she should do differently. If she’s really looking for suggestions, she’ll let you know.
8. Don’t overstay your welcome.
The last thing a new mom or dad wants to do is have to be the perfect host for lots of guests. If you visit them, make sure you keep it short and watch for subtle queues that it may be time to leave. New parents are busy adjusting to a new lifestyle, so ask ahead of time about things like nap schedules and bedtimes to make sure you’re not intruding on some much-needed sleep time.
It should go without saying, but unless you have been specifically asked to come for an overnight stay to help out, you should absolutely not plan to sleep at their home. They have enough going on right now and you shouldn’t expect them to also host houseguests.
9. Send a thoughtful gift.
Whether you live the next block over, or 2,500 miles away, show the new parents that you’re thinking about them with a gift in the mail. Greetabl has lots of options perfect for new moms and dads (and even for new babies!), plus you can add photos and a message to the gift! Being the first person to send them a printed photo of their new child is a really special way to show them how much you care about them, and about the little one.
Not sure what to send? You can’t go wrong with a sweet treat like chocolate or champagne gummy bears, or something for the baby (like this adorable baby hat). If they grew their family through adoption and the child is a little bit older, make sure you include a personal note letting them know how special they are to you and that you can’t wait to get to know them more.
10. Keep your germs to yourself!
Make sure you are symptom-free before visiting the baby or the new parents. You should also use hand sanitizer before touching or holding the child, and of course do anything else that would make the new parents feel more comfortable. Ask in advance if they’d like you to get a flu vaccine before the baby is born and if there’s anything else you can do to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
You should also always make sure you ask before holding or touching a newborn (or really any human, for that matter!), and please don’t kiss the baby unless the parents tell you it’s okay.
11. Help the new mom figure out her contraptions.
Babies come with a LOT of new equipment. From strollers, to bouncers, to swings, to high-tech baby monitors, the list goes on and on! And some of these new items can be a liiiiitle bit complicated. If the new mom or dad is watching YouTube videos to try to figure out how to assemble or properly use a new piece of baby equipment, offer some assistance!
12. Bring. Snacks. Lots of snacks.
Even if they have all the meals covered, food can still be a very appreciated gesture for new parents. If the new mom is breastfeeding she’ll need to consume a lot of calories per day, but even if that’s not the case, snacks are always helpful to have around as you adjust to having a new family member in the house.
Take easy, grab-and-go snacks that don’t require any prep work. Baked goods, cut fruit and veggies, a variety pack of crackers, granola bars, trail mix, lactation bites or lactation cookies, squeeze packs of nut butter, and popped popcorn are all good options.
If they have other children in the home, try to include a few of their favorites, too. Not sure what the kids like? You can’t go wrong with some all-natural fruit snacks, string cheese, or Goldfish crackers.
13. Run errands with them!
If the new mom or dad is feeling cooped up at home and wants to get to do some of their own errands, offer to tag along to help with the baby while they shop. Bonus: it’s a fun way to spend time together without barging in on their nest at home.
14. Pick up coffee on your way over.
When you’re on your way to visit or pick them up to go run some errands, stop by the coffee shop to grab their favorite drink. If mom is avoiding caffeine, just opt for decaf.
15. Pamper her!
Being a new mom is HARD! Help your friend get a little “me time” by offering to watch the baby while she goes to get a massage, mani/pedi, or a blowout. She deserves a little peace and quiet amongst the chaos of new parenthood!
If she wants to keep the baby close, offer to go with her to hold the baby while she gets her hair or nails done. You could also opt for an indulgent ice cream or dessert shop, instead, if she doesn’t feel comfortable taking the baby into a salon or spa just yet. Go through the drive through or pick up carryout that she can enjoy from the comfort of her germ-free home. Bonus points if you bring her a face mask or other spa product she can use at home later.
16. Help with thank you notes.
Baby shower gifts, meal trains, hospital visitors – the new parents have a lot of people they want to thank right now! While thank you gifts are never expected, many parents will want to send them anyway to show appreciation for all the support they’ve received. Offer to lend a helping hand by writing some of the thank you cards for them, addressing envelopes, or running to the post office to pick up stamps or to mail the cards when they’re ready to go.
Pro tip: make it clear that you do NOT expect a thank you card to thank you for helping with other thank you cards. 😂
17. Fold laundry.
Pretty self-explanatory! With a new baby in the house, she probably has more laundry than she’s used to. Offer to stop by once a week to help fold laundry for her while she rests or takes care of other tasks around the house.
If you think that folding laundry at her home might be overstaying your welcome, offer to pick up a load of laundry from her and return it clean and folded later that day. This has the added bonus of letting you rope your spouse, children, or roommate into helping out, too. 🙂
Sometimes it’s just not practical to help fold laundry yourself. You may live too far away, have an extremely busy schedule, or pose a potential infection risk to the child. That doesn’t mean you can’t help at all, though! Consider pitching in for a laundry service to help the new parents out for the first few months. This is a perfect group gift if you have several other friends or relatives who are looking for ways to be helpful.
18. Help clean around the house.
Find ways to help her clean when you visit. Run the vacuum for her, help with the dishes, or focus on the tasks you know could be hard for her right now, like washing windows, getting holiday decorations up (or down), and yard work.
If you are neighbors and live in a cold climate, scoop their snow when you do yours. You’d be surprised how much that simple gesture will mean to them!
19. Encourage self-care.
Send something to encourage self-care! A bath bomb, a face mask, a bullet journal, or daily affirmation or devotional if they are spiritual. Greetabl has tons of options for self-care gifts that you can send even if you live far away.
20. Shower the baby with compliments (duh!).
New parents LOVE to hear nice things about their child. Make sure you shower the baby with compliments as much as possible. (It doesn’t hurt to compliment the parents or siblings while you are at it!).
21. Take a night shift or two.
If it is likely to be appreciated, you can take a night shift or two to help the new parents catch up on sleep. Word of warning: this is something that only a person very close to the family should suggest. If you aren’t Mom, Grandma, a sister, or someone who holds that kind of place in the new parent’s life, you should not plan to stay at their home overnight.
22. Invite the family over for something low key.
After they get through the newborn phase, invite the family over to your home for a low key dinner, BBQ, or dessert night. They’ll appreciate being able to get out of the house without the stress of an elaborate party or the pressure to leave the little one at home.
When you make your plans, consider what the child might need, too. If the parents grew their family through foster care or adoption and the child is a little bit older, make sure you have food that they will enjoy. Remember that children in foster care are faced with completely unfamiliar surroundings – ask the parents if there are certain foods the child is used to and enjoys or if there is anything else you can do to help make the child more comfortable in your home.
23. Help keep the family entertained.
24. Decorate to welcome them home.
Put up yard signs, balloons, or a welcome home wreath to celebrate their new arrival! If you are house sitting for them while they are in the hospital, you could also put up a banner in the home. Another fun way to welcome them back is to have all of their friends sign a poster board for them, kind of like a giant, oversized card.
25. And then make sure you clean up the decorations!
If you (or someone else) decorated to welcome them home, make sure you ALSO clean up the decorations. Don’t leave the exhausted new parents with a big mess to deal with in the first days home with their new baby.
26. Get some new books for the baby.
As the baby grows, reading the same storybooks over and over can get a little monotonous. Send a few new books over the course of the first year of the baby’s life to give the parents some variety.
Brittany, Greetabl’s Director of Marketing, recommends keeping a list of all the books you’ve sent them to avoid accidentally buying the same one twice. It sounds silly, but she’s speaking from experience on this one. 😉
27. Help with drop off and pick up duty.
If the parents have older children, offer to help with school or daycare drop off and pick up duty. You could also offer to take the other children to activities and sports practices to give the new parents a bit of a break and so they can avoid loading up the baby several different times a day.
How to help new parents from far away
It may feel tricky to support new parents when you live far away, but there are still several things you can do to help and show you care! Most importantly, stay invested in the relationship and do what you can to let them know you really wish you could be there. It goes a long way and will make the new parents feel extra special. 🙂
Other practical ways to help when you live far away:
- Text, call, or FaceTime. The new parents will definitely appreciate knowing you’re interested in their lives and they could probably use a little encouragement.
- Send a gift. Or two, or ten! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to let them know you care; something simple and personalized will make a bigger impact than something expensive picked at random. Greetabl is a great option for sending a gift with a personal message for under $30 (and it will still get there in a week!). One way to take this to the next level is to continue to send gifts to the child throughout the first year. Send simple surprises for holidays like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, the first day of Summer, Halloween, Nieces and Nephews Day, St. Nick’s Day.
- Order a meal for them. You may not be able to drop off a home-cooked favorite, but you can still order a tasty treat from one of their local go-to places. Or, leave the choice up to them and send an UberEats or Doordash gift card!
- Make a playlist on Spotify for them! New parents spend lots of time feeding and rocking their babies. Make a playlist (or a few different ones) to fit the different moods they may have during those quiet times.
- Be a listening ear. If your loved one lives away from all of their family, they may feel a little isolated during this exciting time. Be a shoulder to cry on and make sure you let them know that you are here to listen (judgment-free!) anytime.
How to support new parents during COVID
Being a new parent is always hard, but being a new parent in the middle of a global pandemic? That’s on a whole new level! No one can visit you in the hospital, it’s harder (or sometimes impossible) for friends and family to stop by to help around the house in those first few weeks home, and your options for getting out and about are pretty limited. 😭
BUT! If you have a friend or family member who recently grew their family, there are still plenty of ways you can help out (that don’t require breaking any government restrictions).
COVID-Safe Ways to Support New Parents:
- Send an UberEats, Grubhub, or Doordash gift card so the new parents can order contactless delivery when they’re too tired to cook.
- Like every picture they post of the baby on social media!
- If you live nearby, put up a welcome home sign on their door or write a special sidewalk chalk message in their driveway (just try to keep the cleanup simple for the new parents).
- Send a gift or note in the mail.
- Help set up a cleaning service. Since friends and family can’t go into their home to help clean up, fold some laundry, or do the dishes, helping with a cleaning service can provide some relief to the new parents.
- Don’t mom-shame them for the choices they make during the pandemic. It’s hard enough dealing with the constantly-changing advice from public health officials without having someone else shame you for your choices. Trust that the new parents are doing their best and that they’ll ask you if they want your opinion on how they deal with the pandemic.
- Schedule a virtual hangout! Offer to do a Zoom or FaceTime – or to talk on the phone if a video chat is just not what the new parents are up for right now.
- Send a box of household essentials so they can make fewer Target runs.
- Help with yard work, if you live close by. It’s an easy, socially-distanced way to provide practical support!
- Help celebrate the siblings. You may not be able to offer babysitting assistance, but you can help keep the other kiddos occupied. Send activity books, some new movies, or a fun game (but send something quiet! Now is NOT the time for the Baby Shark musical fishing game).