Friday, January 3, 2014

Oh Baby! How to Help When the Little One Comes Home

Wondering what you can do to help friends and family members as they prepare for, welcome home, and adapt to life with a new baby?  While nannying for a family last year as they welcomed twins, I researched and compiled some ideas so that I'd have my own list in mind for future reference when our loved ones made the big announcement. Well, the future is here and while looking through the list on my computer, I thought it might be a good one to share.  Here are some suggestions and gift ideas to consider:

1) Everyday Housekeeping – Set up a visit to go empty trash, do some dishes, do a few loads of laundry and do some general cleanup. Even better, hire a great cleaning service to go in and do a rockin' cleaning job when the new mama just wants to snuggle with her little one. You'll probably want to inform the family of this ahead of time, and even do a trial run before the baby arrives to make sure that the parents are comfortable/happy with the cleaners and the service. Another idea is to give a gift card and allow them to make the call when they're ready. 

2) Meal Care- Prep or bring in a meal and either put it out with serving utensils or serve it yourself.  Clean up and put leftovers into containers or plastic wrap in single servings for easy prep.  Take care of dishes and leave the house as clean as (or better than) you found it. You can even set up a group calendar on a website such as or so that the family knows who is coming, when, and even what they'll be eating! Frozen meals are great, too, so they can eat it when they're ready. Just include directions for baking/cooking temps and times. 
Note: Check for any dietary restrictions/preferences and be mindful in your selection.  You want to give something that they can eat and enjoy.

3) Managing Gifts, Mail and Flowers- Offer to come by and get, sort, stamp and send out the mail.  Keep a list of gifts that the family receives and get Thank You notes ready.  Water bouquets and wash fruit.  Offer to help with phone calls, emails and ordering/prepping/sending birth announcements.

4) Help with Feedings- Offer to assist the mother for the last feeding of the night so that her spouse can get some rest before the night-time feeding. Hold babies and give them some lovin’ as long as the parents are comfortable with you doing so.

5) Errands- Ask the parents if they need/want anything from the grocery store, Target/Walmart, Babies R Us, CVS, etc.  Then use your judgment to make the best choices.  Bring things over, help unwrap them/put them away/prep them to go in the laundry (if needed) and visit the parents and little bundle(s) of joy for a bit while you’re at it!

6) Kid Outings- If the family has any other children and you are familiar to them, offer to take them on an outing to the park, library, mall, etc.  Have a fun day just for them! This is a big adjustment, especially for little ones.

7) Help with Visitors- Does the family have out of town visitors coming to meet the baby/babies? Offer to pick them up at the airport, prep their rooms/bathrooms/beds and bring/prep/serve/clean up from meals while they are here. Ask what you can do and be available during their visit. 

8) Check the Registry/Send a Gift- Most new parents (and some 2nd-time parents) are registered for gifts and welcome these items before (and after) a child’s birth. Check to see what they did not receive right away when the baby is born- they may need it ASAP! Sending fruit, flowers, or any gift from the heart is always appreciated and shows the family that you’re thinking of them at this exciting, adjusting time. 

9) Something for the Nursery- If you know the color scheme/theme that the parents have chosen, consider purchasing something special for the baby's room. A special piece of art, picture frame, book or piece of furniture is a thoughtful gift. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones the parents never considered.  Other times, they left something off of the registry intentionally. When in doubt, you can always consult them first. 

10) Money Toward the Child's College Fund- This may seem a little far-off and premature, but it's been said that colleges that cost $60,000 per year right now could cost as much as $100,000 per year when today's infants are ready to get that bachelor's degree. That scares me, and I don't even have a bun in the oven! I don't need to do the math for you to show that $100 given at birth, plus $50 or $100 for each birthday from you, plus contributions by the baby's parents, and by other loved ones along the way, will gain interest and add up to be a great investment in this child's future. The parents are not going to come right out and ask you for money toward their baby's college education, but they will definitely appreciate it if you decide to gift it on your own. Plus, they may not have considered starting a college fund yet and you may be the one who gets the ball rolling as soon as possible, so way to go! 

11)  If you have a special talent or skill (knitting, quilting, baking, massage, playing music), consider using your talent to do (or create) something special for the baby and parents. Make a playlist of bedtime music, make muffins for an easy early-morning treat, etc. If you live near the family and the weather is nice, ask Mom to go for walks with you and bring baby along in the stroller! Be creative and use what you already love to do for your gift :) Note that parents all have different styles and preferences. If you're creative and want to make a diaper cake, be sure to find out whether the parents want to use disposable or cloth diapers, and try to find out what kind if possible. You don't want to get something that they won't use, after all.   

12) A Gift Certificate for a Newborn Photography Shoot- Note: Some hospitals partner with local photo studios to offer day-of or day-after shoots of the newborn while still at the hospital. I've seen these done very well, and the parents may end up loving these photos. Whether you treat the family to a package of these pictures or offer a whole different package after they come home, it will be a lovely gift. Give it a few months- you'll be glad to have a reminder of just how tiny that little bundle of joy was. 

What other ideas do you think would be helpful? If you have children, what was something helpful that someone did for you when your little ones were infants? If you've been to a baby shower and saw something really clever/smart, feel free to share! 

Photo at the top seen on Pinterest, from Itty Bitty Bum Cakes

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