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How to help a new parent: Bring food and empty their dishwasher

When visiting, don’t ask “what would you like me to do?” Be proactive instead

Baby love When baby arrives, everyone wants to visit. Be a good visitor. "Don't just arrive. Arrange with the new parents when to come," says postpartum doula Ceara McManus of

“When you are there. don’t expect to sit and hold the baby while the new parents make you a cup of tea. You being there shouldn’t be an extra hassle for them.”

Baby, I need your loving For the sleep-deprived, cooking and shopping are epic tasks. The best thing you can bring is food. "They need really nourishing food to help them recover and build themselves back up. Something warm, served in a bowl like stews, curries and soups," says McManus.

When juggling a newborn, healthy snacks are a good idea too. “Something that they can eat one-handed and just grab when they are hungry.” Gifts of flowers or cute but fiddly baby clothes can be a hassle.


Doing it all for my baby When visiting, don't ask "what would you like me to do?"

“Be proactive,” says McManus. “‘I’m just going to put the dishwasher on for you,’ or ‘I’m just going to put on that load of laundry’. Look around and see what’s to be done.”

Put on the kettle, empty the dishwasher, hang out a wash, fold a load, offer to refresh their sheets or pick things off the floor – just keeping the space tidy. "For 
a lot of new parents it can get very overwhelming if things are all over the place all the time."

Offer to take their other kids to the playground. Watch the baby while they rest. A voucher for a postpartum doula service can be invaluable too.

Too busy thinking about my baby The baby is the star, of course, but don't forget the parents. "It's about asking how they are and really meaning that question. Listening to the answer is so important. Offer support and reassurance, with no judgment," says McManus.

“Try not to wade in with, ‘you should be doing it this way,’ or ‘this is what worked for me’. Allow them to really tune into their parenting instincts. That takes time. Give them the space to talk through whatever the issue is without offering solutions all the time. Give them the space to figure things out for themselves.”

Baby, I love your way New parenthood can be scary – reassurance helps. "You could say, 'it looks like you are really connected with the baby', 'look how you are noticing that they are hungry now', or 'look how you are holding them and making them feel safe'. Those little words of encouragement can go a long way," says McManus.

Take good care of my baby The science of parenting is always evolving. Reading up can give relatives an understanding of why the new parents are doing things differently. Practices around 'crying it out', sleeping positions and weaning have changed.

“Some people can be quick to go, ‘oh you look wrecked, why don’t you give them a bottle and they will sleep longer’. Reading evidence-based information and having that knowledge for yourself can be really helpful,” says McManus.

Baby, please don't go In the first weeks everyone is ringing and visiting. Then things can go quiet. Being at home with a newborn can be lonely, so continue to check in with the parents, says McManus. "It's really in those weeks after that people need the phone call - 'are you around tomorrow, I'll pop in and bring you some food'."