Well, I thought it might be good to do a little educational piece for the general public while the subject is fresh for me. It is also good for me to capture this in print for myself, since it is so easy to forget what it is like to have a newborn once you are out of that phase. Evolutionary psychology and survival of the species has helped us by allowing us to almost completely erase from our minds the downsides of having a newborn and only remember the sweet smell of baby powder and soft breathy snuggles.
Here goes. I hope you find this both humorous and informative. Feel free to add your own by commenting, or go ahead and critique the ones I've suggested.
Top Ten Do's for Friends of Families with Newborns:
10. Wash your hands and the hands of your children before handling the newborn. Especially if you drove to see us - we've seen too many people with fingers up their noses at stoplights.
9. Offer to run errands or pick something up for the family.
8. Be patient with the family and all their grumpiness, dishevelment, and absentmindedness. With the combo of sleep deprivation and general shock over the upheaval, the best they can do right now is get the baby fed, clothed, and changed.
7. Allow the family to rest and relax. Take care of them - they desperately need it! At the very least, fetch diapers and wipes. If you don't want to help out, then keep your visit very short (30 minutes to an hour).
6. Go on and on about how beautiful the baby is. Even if the baby looks like Yoda having a bad hair day.
5.If the family has another child, bring a small gift for the other child and give that child some of your attention too. If the family doesn't have another child, give that extra attention to the mom!
4. Make the sacrifice, just this once, and let the family hog the conversation with talk of the baby and the birth. We know it is terribly boring for you, but it is all we really care about right now.
3. When you visit, bring food, serve or help serve the meal, and then help clean up. This is the best gift you can give the family - you don't need to bring anything else!
2. Ask when the family is expecting visitors (frame it as "when" versus a yes/no "Are you taking visitors?" so it is easier for the family to put you off if they so desire).
1. For the love of Pete, tell the mother how wonderful and thin she looks, even if she looks like Jabba the Hut. No one will do this, so be the first to break the cycle.
Other helpful suggestions:
When to visit a newborn