“In no way should you as new parents bend over backwards for visitors who come to your home to meet the new baby,” our Bringing Home Baby class moderator, a stalwart Registered Nurse and mother of four grown men, met each of her students’ eyes with the utmost seriousness, “really, the best gift visitors can give you is their absence.” The entire class erupted in uncomfortable laughter, but the RN was driving home an important message. New parents are not there to host. They are simply surviving.
A counterintuitive message for most, but as we quickly learned once our first baby arrived, the RN was right. Of course she was.
With that in mind, here is a low-frills list of gift considerations that will actually be useful to a new family:
Hearty Food – Fave dishes that will feed the new family for a few days are a great idea! A huge pan of delicious pasta! A casserole! Toss in a huge bread loaf! Almonds and oatmeal (this also means cookies!) help increase breast milk production. Deliver with a smile (or leave it at the front door). Check for any food allergies beforehand.
Fruit basket – Surprisingly, one of the best gifts we received was an Edible Arrangement. Sent to us by fellow parents who loved it themselves and wanted to pay it forward, it is revered for its design, practicality and deliciousness.
Flowers “In a Vase to Place!” – Flowers aren’t a necessity, but they can certainly lift moods and liven up a space. Arrive with flowers already prepped in a vase, so new parents don’t have to hustle about searching for vases, cutting stems, arranging, cleaning up, etc.
Call Ahead – New parents can be in a vortex of confusion, sleep deprivation, stress, and not know what day it is. They might need provisions. Like Groceries or diapers. Call to check if they need anything picked up before you arrive.
A Readiness to Roll Up The Sleeves – Dishes, laundry, cooking, tidying, 20 minutes to take a shower. Anything a visitor can do to actually help out the household will be savored and appreciated for decades to come.
A Fresh Air Break – The new family vortex can also mean they’ve forgotten the outdoors exist. See if new parents want to go for a short walk with or without the baby. Even if it’s for 15 minutes. If with the baby, physically help them pack up baby and get out the door. If without, harness your your inner-babysitter and take one for the team. It’s only 15 minutes and the baby will most likely sleep.
The Gift of Knowing When To Leave – Even if you’ve suddenly turned into Mary Poppins and the new family begs you to stay, know when to call it quits. At that point, everyone will need a little R&R.