What NOT to do when your friends have a newborn

Guest post by Frizz

In the comments for “how to be a good friend to a new mom” we got a lot of awesome comments and suggestions. This was one that particularly full of good advice…

"Oh snap, I have arrived" body suit from Etsy seller mamabijou
“Oh snap, I have arrived” body suit from Etsy seller mamabijou

In the first couple of weeks after giving birth, I found myself showered with food, presents, and presence. But it was really after the six weeks passed that I found myself quite alone — people weren’t visiting anymore, but it was still hard for me to get out with a newborn. This is the best time to be there for your friend.

Here are some of my major don’ts, that you could help manage if you’re there with your friend:

1. Calling is sometimes pretty awkward with a newborn

Phones wake them up. Feeding while talking is a skill that needs to be mastered. And frankly, I was in no mood to talk on the phone to anyone for the first month. Texts and emails are great and can be juggled at the same time as a baby! Also, in terms of frequency of such things, keep up the pace you have now, and let your friend tell you if that’s not working for her.

2. Don’t give advice unless actually asked for for it

I don’t give two kahoots about what your sister’s kids ate, how your own mum (or fiance’s mum) fed you, or how you know some kids who didn’t sleep. New parents hear enough unsolicited advice from people — their friends don’t need to join in on the act.

3. If you have a big present, it can probably wait until the baby comes home

But if you do get gifts sent to your hospital room, something that I found super-helpful was people offering to take things home from the hospital for me. My daughter was showered with gifts, and my parents and husband did several trips back to my house just with “stuff.” If your gift can wait (and they probably all can) just gift it once your friend is back at home with the kiddo.

4. Outstaying your welcome

Unless specifically asked to stick around, visitors get 45 minutes tops if it’s just for a sit and chat. In my experience, by that time everyone is over it. Don’t feel bad by suggesting to other visitors that it is time for them to leave.

5. Not sticking to the time your friend suggests

My BFF never managed to show up on time, and it drove us batty.

6. Talk about getting “my fill of baby cuddles”

Babies aren’t commodities, just tiny people who mostly just like to be with their mums. This also includes randomly taking the baby far away from their parents at a party — feel free to rescue the baby from the overbearing baby cuddler.

7. Making jokes about “the baby is ruining everything”

Avoid making these kinds of “jokes.” And, if you’re within earshot of other people making snide comments, feel free to stomp on them.

So what SHOULD you do?

3. Helping out when you can

Feel free to offer specific help when you are there. “I’ll hold the baby/entertain the toddler/whatever while you shower/go to the bathroom/look at your phone for five minutes.” Even with close friends and family I always hesitated to ask if they could help me out.

If your friend badly needs a nap and you don’t really have to be anywhere, don’t give her a time limit. She probably won’t sleep even if she wants to (chances are she’ll wake up when the baby cries anyway).

Make yourself at home at your friend’s house, and do what you can for yourself. Making your own drinks, doing some dishes, etc, all really helps. I also find it is 250% easier if the guests come to my house for dinner, coffees, or whatever.

Last but not least, everything changes a lot after your friend has a newborn. But try to still include your friend as you would any other time… just know that the baby may have to come along too.

What are you DON’TS for friends when you have a newborn?

Comments on What NOT to do when your friends have a newborn

  1. This is a fantastic list. When my daughter was a newborn I understood that people wanted to cuddle the baby, but at the same time I was learning how to breastfeed and needed my daughter on my body, preferably skin-to-skin. If you really want extended baby cuddles, wait until after baby is fed, then offer mum a chance to nap or shower. On a related note, if mum is tucking her baby into a wrap or sling, it may be a sign that she needs some closeness with her bub, and that others need to back off a bit.

  2. What peeved me the most was when my spouse’s bio mom who hardly ever communicates with us invited herself over to our house after our first baby was born. About 4 months prior she asked when the due date was and a month later she told us she put in for vacation time on the due date….she was the last person I wanted around at this very intimate time. When my parents and husband’s dad and stepmom ASKED when a good time for them to come visit, I was scheduling them a month after his due date and they were so great about that and I completely appreciated their flexibility and respect for our space. My husband told his bio mom that she needed to wait and suggested a date and she said she absolutely couldn’t do that and we settled for 2 weeks after his due date. Talk about stress on me and my new family. She also helped without asking which I didn’t like and would say passive aggressive things like “I’m surprised how cleaned up the house is!”…and of course the “i didn’t do it that way when I had babies….”. Good times. Just ask the new moms what can be done and respect her wishes.

  3. As a guest:
    DON’T wake the baby up. The baby doesn’t know or care who you are or how far you traveled, and he/she will be much more pleasantly if you let him/her sleep as long as he/she wants. (Parents waking their baby or not is different and their own call.)

    DO respect and follow the parents’ requests/instructions about how to treat their child. This is the companion to “no unsolicited advice” in the article. You may have raised your own kids or baby say or whatever, but if these parents want you to give them the baby as soon as he/she fusses, hold the baby a certain way, or whatever else then you should respect their wishes (with the only exception being if it will actually hurt the baby).

  4. My biggest thing was people showing up without any warning. As a first time mom and someone who struggles with depression and anxiety this was awful! After our son was born I was having a horrible time with post partum depression and anxiety. Trying to breastfeed and the lack of sleep really had me a mess. So random visits really just made it worse. Plus it wasn’t even people I was close with that were doing it. Yes please come in and have a look at my very leaky breasts. Like seriously did all these people forget how fricken difficult it is!?!? Also wash your damn hands! People looked at me like I was the biggest asshole for asking that. It was January and a newborn. Heck I don’t care what month a baby is born be curtius and wash your hands.

  5. Being late when you have an agreed-upon meeting time is terrible on people w/newborns, too. I scheduled people in to visit at certain times so I could make sure I was showered and that they would be done visiting and leave by the time I needed to breastfeed/pump/put baby down for a nap/put myself down for a nap/something else I planned my day around during maternity leave. When they showed up 30 minutes late because “you’re just sitting at home” my whole schedule was thrown off and everyone suffered. Very very bad.

  6. Such a good list! I like to think of myself as being pretty baby savvy, having worked as a Nanny for many years. And yet we all need reminders like these because when someone you know has a bubba, its about THEM not the rest of us!

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