I asked a dear friend her top "needs" after the arrival of her little one, just a few months ago. Her immediate (and concise) response, "Extra hands. Sleep. Food. Water. Shower."
Sleep deprivation, anxiety, and a mental overload are par for course. But what a new parent craves the most is spending time with the baby. Family and friends are in an ideal situation to help ease the transition when visiting. Parents will deeply appreciate the extra hands, and you will still have ample baby time. Here are a few helpful hints:
1) Be a Self-Sufficient Helping Hand:
Everyone wants to see the new baby, meaning parents often recieve a stream of visitors the weeks/months following the birth. But do not visit expecting to be entertained. New parents barely have time to sleep let alone prepare dinner for guests, or plan daily activities. Take the initiative and look after yourself.
2) Stock the Fridge:
Whether snacks and comfort food, or favorite bottled drinks, knowing food is on hand is one less thing to worry about for a new parent. Which leads us to…
3) Prepare a Meal:
Order in or cook it yourself - the results are the same. Easing the stress of mealtime while also ensuring (and gently cajoling) a new parent to eat!
4) Maid Service:
Yes, as in cleaning, laundry, and other household chores that will be overlooked. It is amazing how much laundry a tiny baby can generate! Allow a parent to put up their feet, take a nap, or better yet, spend time with the baby while you tend to the house.
5) Come Bearing Gifts:
Books and toys are always thoughtful touches, but baby essentials will be a welcome addition. And, one less Target run for the parent.
BONUS - Watch the Baby:
Of course - this is your intention in the first place! But even if baby is sleeping, offer to keep an ear out so parent is free to focus on non-baby activities (such as taking a shower).
Every thoughtful gesture will be greatly appreciated and reciprocated in the future - the times when you desperately need a capable assistant during life's hectic moments.