Being the parent of a newborn is exhausting, and sometimes visitors, friends and family simply ask the wrong questions. So, here’s a guide on what not to do and say to new parents to avoid awkward conversations and upsetting them.
1. Sleep when the baby sleeps
Yep okay, sure. Nevermind the mountain of washing that needs doing, the food that needs cooking, and also every other responsibility. Parents of newborns sometimes can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, so keep that in mind.
2. It’s not post partum depression, you’re just tired
PPD affects people in many different ways, and it’s important not to assume that someone is feeling low or out of it because they’re tired. Instead, help them find a solution or point them in the right direction for help.
*TIP - when visiting a new baby you might want to take a gift for the new mum as well as the new baby*
3. He/She cries a lot!
All babies cry, and new parents who are (as previously mentioned) very tired may take this as an insult of their parenting. Don’t state the obvious! Why not help soothe the baby if they’re happy to let you step in?
4. You look exhausted!
We’re seeing a pattern here! All parents of newborns are going to be exhausted. Babies tend to wake every few hours during the night, and even if the parents are tag teaming, tiredness is bound to kick in with all of that broken sleep. As an alternative, why not offer to tend to the baby while they grab a coffee and take a shower - it’ll make the world of difference.
5. Savour every moment
Babies aren’t little for long, and while it’s true that you should enjoy every moment, it’s also very difficult to do that when you’re covered in spit up, have had around 2 hours sleep and haven’t had a moment to shower in a long time. Don’t be confused, of course they love it, just remember that there are moments that are less than favourable, and saying this might turn into one of those moments.
6. You just wait until they’re older!
This phrase definitely won’t do you any favours! The parent of a newborn doesn’t want to hear that things will get harder as their child grows into their own little person. They already know that! Instead, empathise with how they’re feeling and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
7. Breast is best
It’s a well known fact that breastfeeding is good for babies. However not everyone can do it or even wants to do it, and there’s nothing more irritating hearing about what they’re NOT doing for their baby. One thing to keep in mind, FED is best, and they’re doing everything they can to provide for their baby.
8. Let them cry it out
Everyone has different parenting styles, and some parents don’t want to use the cry it out technique. So, if you see them struggling with their technique, rather than criticising it, see if there’s anything you can do to ease the load or give them five minutes to themselves. Support/criticism every single time.
9. Oh, they haven’t done ____ yet?
Babies develop at different rates, so this phrase could be quite upsetting to new parents. It could in fact worry new parents that their baby isn’t developing as they should be! They know what’s best for their baby, so it’s probably best to bite your tongue on this one.
What should you never ask a new mum?
There are some things that are best left unsaid to a new mum, such as:
- When are you going to lose the baby weight?
- When are you going back to work?
- Are they sleeping through yet?
- What should you not do when visiting a new parent?
- Here’s some things to avoid when visiting a new parent:
- Don’t show up empty handed. Bring something for them to eat or a nice cup of coffee.
- Don’t turn up if you’re unwell. No need for explanations there.
- Don’t overstay your welcome.
- Don’t post pictures of the baby anywhere without permission.
- Don’t forget about older siblings.
Don't forget the new Dad's gifts!
What do you say to a new parent?
Finally, here are some things you should be saying!
- Is there anything I can do to help?
- Let us know when you’re happy for us to visit.
- You’re doing such a wonderful job, he/she is beautiful.
- How are you feeling?
As you can see, there are many things you shouldn’t say to a new parent. However with careful wording and actions, you can help them feel better in themselves and about their new bundle of joy.