19 Jul 2016 How to bless new parents
by Brittany Gilbert
Chances are you know someone who is about to or just had a baby. You want to be helpful but are not sure what will help them the most.
Parents who just had a baby don’t always know or feel comfortable expressing their real needs or desires when it comes to visitors and gifts.
The good news is there are several easy, cheap and even free ways to provide much needed help and support to your friends.
Ways to help when new baby comes:
Get a Tdap vaccination. Tdap stands for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (better known as whooping cough) and can be one of the most helpful things you do for the families around you with newborns. This is especially helpful if you are around a newborn baby often.
Babies get their own version of this vaccination but not until 2 months old, and until then, they are very vulnerable to these life-threatening diseases. Pertussis, or whooping cough, has made the rounds in the last few years and is extremely dangerous for new babies who can’t fight the disease like older children and adults.
Wash hands and stay away if someone is sick. While hand sanitizer is a nice alternative, it is no match for actually washing your hands when you come in contact with a baby. The parents will greatly appreciate the thoughtfulness when you take it upon yourself to do this without being asked. Also, if someone you’ve been around has been sick, it’s just safer to stay away.
Offer to babysit older siblings. If the parents have other children, this could be a real blessing. Of course they want the big brother or sister to be involved with new baby, but a little outing with friends is a nice treat, too.
When close friends of ours had a new baby, we asked them if we could take the big brother to a pumpkin patch with us for the day. The parents were able to then focus on other areas that needed attention.
Take a night shift. If you’re really close with the family, you can even offer to take a night shift with the baby or a few hours during the day for mom to rest, shower, etc. If you’re unsure whether it will be helpful, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Mom or dad might enjoy the company, even if it doesn’t work out for them to be away from the baby for a long period of time.
Mow the yard. While the couple is in the hospital, check their yard to see if it needs mowing or plants need to be watered. Simple acts like these are the kinds of chores that new parents put on the backburner but are reminded of when they come home from the hospital. Even though they’re exhausted, they know they need to attend to these chores. Most parents don’t think to ask someone to mow their lawn, and money to pay someone could be used in so many other areas.
Give a gift card to a favorite restaurant or bring a meal. This is the most common form of helping a new family. My circle of friends actually creates a meal train using one of the websites designed just for this purpose, and friends sign up for specific dates to bring meals. Again, it takes the pressure off of the couple to come up with dates and times when they need meals and instead they can look at the calendar and know that they are being blessed on a certain date.
If you don’t cook or aren’t sure what to bring, gift cards are a great option! Another option is to let the couple know you want to bring them food from their favorite restaurant and ask for their order. I’ve done this a few times for friends, and it really helps me out, too, because I don’t have to try and figure out something that they may or may not like.
The good thing about offering a specific gift is that it takes the pressure off of the couple to make a decision. Instead of saying “let me know if you need anything,” which places pressure on them to come to you for help, you are saying “I’m wanting to do this for you, will it help?”
Even the best intentions may not really be helpful, so try to think specifically for the couple you want to bless.
Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].