and other guidelines for visiting new parents
Your [relative, friend, coworker] just had a baby and you're going to visit. Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Don't hold the baby because then your hands are full and you can't do things like get mom water, do her dishes, change her sheets, or walk her dog. Those are all more important and selfless gestures. Don't hold the baby because mom is still learning baby's hunger cues and, if you are rocking baby across the room mom could miss a feeding. Don't hold the baby, because mom or dad might actually want to. Mom (and her partner) have worked really f-ing hard to get that baby into this world and they deserve to hold baby any and all the time. Of course, if mom asks you to hold the baby so that she can do something for her self, like go to the bathroom, or take a nap, hold the baby! But know, that her offering the baby to you while she is socializing is likely the result of social pressure, and is different than her specifically asking for help.
2. Feed the beasts. Mom is working crazy hard to feed her little boo. Least you can do is throw her a bone during your visit. By now, almost everyone knows to bring food to new parents, but remember there can be no prep work (cooking, chopping, or supplementing). When my daughter was born, the greatest food gift I received was a container of ready-to-eat blueberries and strawberries. The strawberries had the top cut off and were cut in half! It may not seem like a big deal to you, but that container of fruit was eaten in two days, while a container of whole strawberries from the grocery store sadly sat rotting in my refrigerator. Bring paper plates and utensils while you're at it, or at least wash and dry and put away the dishes before you leave. Here are some other great foods to bring a new mom and obviously, make sure there is enough for the whole family!
3. Bring a little something. I was raised to believe you never show up empty handed. I think food is the best and only present you need to bring new parents but, if you're interested in a little something else here are something things you can consider. Seasonally appropriate, machine washable, 3-6 month or 6-12 month clothing will be more appreciated than newborn pieces. They will be worn more than once and won't be covered in spit up! You're Doing Great Baby! is a new book for mom + baby, and would make a lovely gift, as would something like SoapWalla's incredibly affective deodorant cream that is safe for mom to use while breastfeeding. You can also text on your way and see if you can grab anything from the pharmacy that they may need. Here are more gift ideas!
4. Keep it short and sweet. Never stay more than 45 - 60 minutes and remember the age ol' "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." New mama's can be vulnerable and sensitive after delivery, so steer clear of giving advice unless you are asked, and definitely don't share scary or disheartening stories about birth or breastfeeding from your friend's, cousin's mom or whoever else.