The Rules for Visiting a New Mom



You know the scene: A close girlfriend has her long-awaited new baby and you feel the need to hightail it to her house to hold that little bundle of joy. In fact, it takes all of your self-control to not show up at the hospital and interrupt the precious few hours that she’ll have a staff doting on her around the clock. Either it’s because you love that new baby smell or you think Mama is going to have hurt feelings if you don’t show interest in her newest family member, but regardless, you are going to hold that baby. This is what we do as women, yes?

Au contraire, mon amie. I distinctly remember being two months into motherhood and realizing that I didn’t need or want any more girlfriends stopping by and over-stimulating my colicky, sensitive child with their scary foreign faces, inappropriately loud voices, or refusal to stop bouncing him for even a few minutes. Give the baby a break from the bouncing, ladies. Do you think I want him to get used to that?  No, I don’t, because I’m tired and I don’t want to have to bounce him myself.

Related: How to Not Scare Away Your BFF after You’ve Had a Baby

I assure you that I would not have been hurt had no one come to visit me at all. Do you think I made this baby by myself?  In fact, I did not. There is a man who lives here to keep me company in the evenings. During the day I was too tired, overwhelmed, and covered in spit-up to care about loneliness, and having company just meant that I’d have to squeeze my fat ass into something that didn’t fit and vacuum the dog hair off the floor.

Before I became a mother I was one of those girlfriends who showed up just to hold your baby. I hereby publicly apologize to all of the new mommies that I did this to. No mother I know was sitting around, desperately waiting for me to appear at her house empty-handed and hold her baby. I am no Baby Whisperer, believe me.

Related: The Scary Mommy Manifesto

There was one instance that I arrived at a girlfriend’s house for no other reason than to hold her new baby and then I sat down and ate the dinner that her husband had been preparing for them. Me! I did not just have a baby! Why was I eating her food?  Shameful.

Now I’m a mother and realize that if you want to hold that babe in the first four months before the yummy new baby smell wears off, then there are some rules governing that situation…

• Bring food that you know they’ll like. This means a take-out lunch from a higher-end restaurant and bring enough food so that Daddy has something to eat when he gets home. Chicken, fish, steak, or something that fits their special diet.  Don’t be stingy; buy enough for leftovers. Don’t make something on your own unless it actually tastes good. It’s best to spend a little money and treat them to something nice since it’s going to be a long, long time before they go to a restaurant again. I hate to say it, but if you can’t afford to buy her a decent lunch, then you need to consider whether you can really afford to hold this baby.

• Don’t eat her food. Does Mama have some pulled pork or a rack of short ribs simmering in the crock-pot when you arrive? Don’t you dare accept any of it if she offers. She is being polite and you are not actually a guest. You are an intruder. Remember:  Everything that you don’t eat is leftovers for them tomorrow, so don’t eat anything at all. You can have some water if you get it yourself. You need to be on high alert to recognize fake offers of food/gifts/favors and so on from this woman; she is likely out of her mind from sleep deprivation and doesn’t know what she’s saying, but she will still remember your greediness years later.

One of my friends left a homemade chicken casserole and fresh chocolate chip cookies at our front door and didn’t even need to come inside. The hallmark of a truly excellent friend is one who will knock quietly, put the food on the front porch, then get in the car and drive away.

• Bring a gift, even if you already gave a baby shower gift. Ask Mama what she needs or check her registry for lingering purchases. Don’t get your panties in a bunch about this one; it can be something as simple as a case of pacifiers or replacement pump pieces–  things that only cost a few bucks. Nobody ever said that a gift had to be a surprise in order to be good. When in doubt, ask what diapers they use and bring those. If you buy the cheapest diapers you can find that are imported from Mexico, she’ll be dealing with scratchy leaky diapers and cursing your name at 4am.

• Snap Away. If you’re a semi-pro photographer, bring your camera and your most flattering lens. Don’t try to sell her the portraits later. Send them for free.

• No summer dresses in winter. Don’t bring size-inappropriate-for-the-season clothing that suits your taste and not theirs. Babies grow fast. Use your brain.

• Don’t bring decorative kick-knacks. As much fun as you might think it is, no mother wants you to decorate her new baby nursery. Decorating the nursery is strictly relegated to mom and dad and you can keep your over-sized stuffed animals, picture frames, and inspirational quotes out of it. Nobody wants something extra to dust around when they have a new baby. Don’t make Mama waste a stamp graciously thanking you for some random thing you dug up at Tuesday Morning that she never wanted in the first place.

• Make yourself useful. Is your new-mother friend one of those controlling types who doesn’t want anyone helping with her housework?  Your friend needs to get over it because in about 8 months that baby is going to be mobile and her days of being in control of her surroundings are officially a thing of the past.

Do the dishes. If the kitchen sink is full of dishes, turn on the water, rinse them off, and start loading them up in the dishwasher. Load them smart because you know how much we hate it when the dishwasher is loaded wrong. Don’t halfheartedly ask Mama if maybe you can help out in some way because she’s going to say no even though she means “God, yes, please someone help me for once.” Just do it.

• Or the laundry. Look around and spy a pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded? Do you have two working hands?  Fold the laundry, even the underwear.

• Be that friend. One of my friends not only brought food and a gift, but she called from the drugstore to see if I needed anything (indeed, I did need nursing pads for those leaky boobs no one warned me about) and started putting away all of the odds and ends that belonged in the baby’s closet that I couldn’t reach because of my c-section. When she asked what she could do it wasn’t really a question as much as it was a statement and request for orders.

Related: 10 Tips on How to be a Good Friend

Another girlfriend came over with her husband for an afternoon. He sat in a chair and rocked the baby while she cleaned my kitchen spotless, including shining up the stainless steel of the refrigerator. What did I do?  I took a bath and washed and dried my hair for the first time in a week. You know when your hair gets so dirty that the roots hurt? That was my hair.  I had an entire hour to myself where I wasn’t listening for the baby to cry for the first time since becoming a mother two months prior. When I tried to check on the baby in the living room she whispered, “Get out of here. He can smell your milk.”

But not THAT friend. I can honestly say that there were a few visitors during that time of my life who had me thinking, “I’m being held hostage by this tiny person who just threw up in my eyes and you didn’t even bring me anything?” Don’t be that friend. Learn from me, the reformed do-nothing baby holder. Last summer when a friend had a new baby, I brought a small gift and lunch whenever I went to see her because I knew she felt so overwhelmed. These days I don’t even give birthday presents without asking Mama what the little one needs, or if my gift idea is alright with her.

If you’ve been a blatant do-nothing baby holder in the past, fear not. Make a mental note to buy the child a special gift for their next birthday party and rest easy knowing that at some point, your day of having vomit in your eyes will come and you will find yourself wondering what the hell these baby-holding friends are doing in your house.


  1. 1

    Victoria KP says

    I can add another one. Do NOT under any circumstance bring a live plant to a new mother. A relative brought me something else that needed to be taken care of when I had a newborn infant. REALLY?!?!

    • 2

      sarah says

      with my first child the people i worked with gave me baby clothes and little fun things that were practical. my second baby, new set of people i worked with. i was quitting cause i had 2 under 2. they gave me a plant. guess which people i liked working with better

    • 3

      Heather says

      Great addition! My MIL actually brought me a wilted plant of hers to nurse back to health THE DAY AFTER I GAVE BIRTH!! She also brought some flowers and said, “I brought some flowers…they’re roses. I know you don’t like roses…just look past them.”

      • 4

        sarah says

        That’s crazy!! Now I know why people don’t like their mother-in-laws!! I am blessed to have the most amazing, thoughtful and helpful MIL in the world!! I’m sorry it sounds like you do not! :(

      • 6

        courtney says

        My sister brought me potted lillies, they were lovely, then the died, they sat on my porch till spring when I dug a hole and buried it, thinking, maybe its a really hardy perenial. 7 years later I have lilies all over my yard and my son is thrilled every spring when HIS flowers start to grow.

      • 8

        Amy Eads says

        FINALLY! I was about to post something like this but Ashley beat me to it.

        You mommies are some of the most sanctimonious ME ME ME ME ME IT’S ALL ABOUT ME! people I’ve ever seen.

        No wonder I hate kids.

        • 9

          ali was says

          you hate kids because you don’t like how some moms act? that’s about as illogical as hating ice cream because you think cows are stupid.

        • 10

          Lala says

          So Amy, what exactly are you doing on Scary Mommy if you hate kids? Do you just like to come here and be judgmental? Or just plain mental? And there’s nothing sanctimonious about thinking that you and your children come first before your visitors, or do you need a dictionary? Because ‘sanctimonious’ means ‘making a big show about being morally superior to other people,’ and your usage doesn’t really work…not at all. I’d use ‘self-centered,’ which is entirely appropriate for you to use, considering that you’re the poster child for this word.

          Go back to your childfree websites, and leave us alone.

  2. 11

    Laura says

    There was a huge snow storm right after I brought my son home from the hospital, my husband’s aunt and uncle visited us as soon as the roads were cleared. We had been snowed in and were slightly overwhelmed, our cupboards were completely bare and we had no refreshments to offer them, I still hear about our terrible hospitality on that day, my son is now 3.

    • 12

      Nilzed says

      Next time, take auntie in the other room and read her the riot act. Tell her its her one chance to apologize and drop the story from her repertoire or in future you will follow up with the story if those awful, thoughtless relatives who showed up unexpectedly and expected people in your situation to treat them like you had nothing getter to do than entertain and please them.

      Ok, I know you won’t say it. Neither would I. But I might well cry on the shoulder of the next most gossipy relative. Cause my family is all passive aggressive like that.

    • 13

      Rebeccah says

      On behalf of all decent people everywhere I would like to apologize for that ATROCIOUS behavior. You poor thing!

      • 15

        Kate says

        Dude. My family is “GERMAN” and while they would say something like this, they would also apologize after I told them to shut-the-hell-up-I-had-a-newborn-just-before-a-blizzard.
        If someone is saying something that bothers you, speak the fuck up. Don’t complain about it to other people.

  3. 16

    bea. says

    So true! Now I’ve been on both sides of this…and when I had our twins and people would sit in my living room and “hold the babies” and ask me for tea or coffee all I wanted to do was lie on the floor and sleep. But I was too polite, and sat and made painful conversation even though I’d never been so sleep deprived and hurting in my life.

    • 17

      Carrie says

      That’s when you turn around and point towards the kitchen and say, “Help yourself” :) If they can hold the babies, they can most definitely fill the kettle and bring you a cuppa!

  4. 18

    Elizabeth says

    We live in a beach town, and after the birth of our first son, our family who came from out-of-town had good intentions, but we quickly realized that they also had vacation plans and kids of their own to entertain! I learned my lesson. Now, after baby #2, I speak up and make clear what help I need (and when they are welcome to come over). Otherwise, they will just hold the baby and then hit the beach!

  5. 20

    Lisa says

    Another to add: Don’t forget big brother/sister gifts. Already hormonal, it would break my heart to see my little though now big brothers look so sad when someone would bring something for the new baby, but not something to celebrate their new role, especially when we had been making such a big deal out of it so they would love having a new sibling vs. seeing him as a rival.

    • 21

      Mary says

      Even it’s something as simple as a fresh box of crayons and a new coloring book. That is my go to gift, especially if there are multiple siblings.

    • 22

      Genevra says

      Presents for kids can be a touchy subject, but personally I think it’s important to teach little people to take pleasure in the joy of others. When its your sister’s birthday, SHE gets the presents and you celebrate WITH her. Maybe little siblings could even have fun picking out a present for the new baby themselves! (Even a silly or impractical one would be good practice for generosity and thoughtfulness). Good teachable moment.

      • 23

        Lisa says

        Birthdays should be for the birthday child…yes…but when a new baby is born and a child is becoming a big sibling for the first time, that is different. Our children always picked gifts for the new babies and helped get their rooms ready. We also had a big brother gift waiting for them when they came to the hospital to meet their new little sibling. Becoming a new big sibling is just as important to celebrate as a new baby being born. My children became different people once they each had a younger sibling. It was amazing and it was an obvious change.

        With my second, the hospital played a video about how even if your current children were in love with the baby when it first got home to be prepared for that to change after about 2 weeks once the older child realized the baby wasn’t leaving. We NEVER had that happen with any of our 3 older children and I really think that was because of how we handled the change for them.

        • 24

          Miranda says

          Oh God, I don’t know why but I laughed so hard at the phrase “once the older child realized the baby wasn’t leaving.” Thanks for that, even if my amusement makes no sense (and I’m half sure it doesn’t, because I read it out to my husband and he didn’t seem to think it was as funny as I did).

    • 26

      jackie says

      I am shocked at some of you mothers, did you think that maybe the older generation were told that it is the proper thing to do is to go meet the new family member or baby of your friend. i am a mother and grandmother and i was more than happy to have someone come hold my baby and give me a break. I talked to my daughter and she thinks the same thing. having a baby does not give you special rights. most woman do it at least once in their lives and its hopefully by choice. if you don’t want company just simply say so. i could handle that but if you have stipulations on me coming to meet the new bundle of joy than maybe i should just stay home or go see someone who actually gives a shit. hint, having a baby does not make you entitled to lavish gifts, expensive food, or housekeepers. if you cant handle all the puke an shit that comes with a newborn than maybe you should not have one. maybe i come from a strong line of woman who didn’t need others to raise her children or treat them as if they just gave birth to Jesus himself. so you all had your bitch time now i have had mine. put your big girl panties on and have some respect for others that are excited to meet your child, you are lucky to have people that care. they all ready know you and should not have to bring you gifts for being able to have a child. before you know it you wont have so many visitors and you are going to wish you did. oh and one more thing, if someone drops some food on my door step its going in the trash. i dont know who dropped it off and im not eating it.

      • 27

        Lisa says

        I HOPE that wasn’t directed at me. I NEVER had nor asked for people to come to my home and clean or do anything after any of my 4 children. In fact, my husband and I were totally on our own after our 3rd and 4th because we had moved far from home. All were c/s so I was unable to drive, limited on steps, etc. too, but whatever. We managed. I never demanded anything from anybody. If they came, great. Loved introducing the baby. If they brought something, great. It didn’t matter if they didn’t. All *I* was saying was if you DO bring a gift for the baby, bring something simple for the older siblings since these are the first days for a child to have to share his/her parents. Our hospitals always talked about the older siblings being excited and then after 2 weeks wondering when the baby was going back. NONE of my kids ever did that BECAUSE we celebrated their new roles. It didn’t carry over to birthdays or anything else but a new baby’s birthday is special for the sibling too.

      • 28

        ES says

        jackie- the voice of reason.

        I don’t understand the sort of materialistic person that cares more about what someone can do for them or bring them rather than the fact that they are visiting them to be a part of the life.

        This entire article is the voice of a disgusting consumer-mom.
        My advice: be a better friend yourself and you’ll make some real friends.
        Real friends don’t need to bring anything, and they certainly don’t “get in their care and drive away” after putting some food on your porch. I would be offended if that was done to me.

      • 30

        Caddy says

        Jackie, I 100% agree with you!! I think a lot of these demands are slightly ignorant, but that’s my opinion which I’m entitled to have. My mother and I are very welcoming people and those who do stop by are welcome because that’s what family and friends do!

        • 31

          Jen says

          I think you’re all unbelievable… what you need to understand is that you are NOT the only one who wants to visit and see the baby… there was someone visiting right before you and someone else will probably be coming over right after…you are one of MANY and the newmommy is surely exhausted and overwhelmed. Don’t be a self-rightous ass, it is not your right to visit or hold the baby… in fact it isnt even about you at all!! Good grief.

          • 32

            Melissa says

            I totally agree with you Jen! My daughter is 3 1/2 months old right now and there were times in the first couple of weeks (mind you, I had really bad postpartum and to this day have severe anxiety with people being around my daughter) that my phone was blowing up with people wanting to stop by and come see her, not including family. It got to the point where a whole weekend was wasted with visitors. I love the visits but I was so damn tired all I was doing while they were there was wishing they would make this quick and leave before the next visitors came so that I could take a nap in peace. I have been very lucky to have a great baby who isnt very needy so getting the constant phone calls/texts asking to come and help me were appreciated but unnecessary and made me more anxious than what I needed. I was very worried about hurting people’s feelings but I am slowly coming to terms that I need to speak up for myself, especially now that I am my daughters voice.

          • 33

            alison says

            What new moms do not seem to understand that if you do not want visitors SAY IT!! Passive aggressiveness is not necessary. I am a friend that will offer to help with some housework or hold the baby while you shower. In all honesty, I would love to see somebody I care about and their new addition. If it doesn’t work out, it isn’t the end of the world. People would rather you tell them if you do not want company than you act like a complete BITCH to them. New mom’s are NOT the only people in the world with a busy life. I am taking time out of MY day to give YOU a break. Does it make me a bad friend if I do not bring you a high end steakhouse dinner? I believe not. Get over yourselves.

      • 34

        Sherry A says

        Well said Jackie. These new mothers have little manners or respect. They think they are the gift and are selfish. Take, take and take, no giving. That line of thinking really makes me fear as to the rearing and adulthood of their children. And we question what’s wrong with the world and people in it now !! What happened to good old fashioned gratitude and being proud to show off your little one? I came from a long line of strong women also but they had respect for every one and every little thing that someone did or gave to them. No we didn’t need others to help raise or kids but a helping hand was never rejected or used nor abused.

        • 35

          Trista says

          I am a “new mom”, with a 2 year old and a 4 month old. I had a lot of visitors when my first was born. I had a horrible delivery with tearing and lots of stitches… And I needed help. My mom cleaned my house the day I brought him home, my sisters cooked dinners for us and held the baby so I could shower, and it was amazing to have the help. I didn’t expect gifts, food, and free labor from my friends and family because I had a baby. So try not to generalize so much about how we, the younger generation, are ruining children, how new mommies are money hungry little brats who only “take, take, take”. Also, WE are the ones with no manners or respect? Simply the way you’re speaking about “new mommies” is horribly disrespectful. There are plenty of horrible moms out there from your generation too, so please don’t take only the bad moms from my generation as your only example. There are a lot of really good moms who try their best to make sure their kids are healthy and well-adjusted, and learn to treat others with respect.

      • 36

        Jen says

        Everyone on this site reading this article is happy that you, Jackie, and those that agree with the mentality that you represent, are not our mothers, sisters, friends, or extended female relatives. I remember how surprised and happy I was when my mom wanted to come visit us a little later after the baby was born, not asap (we live 6 hours flying distance away) because she knew what first the couple of weeks were like and she knew we’d want our privacy to live, eat, sleep, and live around the needs of a newborn. That is love. My mother in law, fortunately, wanted to come visit right away, but so she could cook for us. Another sign of true understanding and caring of what it takes to love and care for a newborn.

        I know the perspective you represent, your words and perspectives are not unknown to the rest of us females, but rather represent a different culture, age, and perspective, one that many of us have come from or seen in older generations. We are more direct, confident, and happier, as well as, less passive aggressive, lost, and living our life to “please” the norms of others, and we love our husbands who match us in their ability to be flexible, adapt, and thrive in all types of environments, not just what is expected or traditional.

        Your idea that being able to change a dirty diaper dripped with the perspective that women should never question their lot or change and to do so would be a weakness, and a female should never ever show vulnerability, even if that means becoming one of the stereotypical martyred passive aggressive hateful women that fill unhappy spaces. You sound really unhappy and mad that your life didn’t fulfill your desires. I’m sorry to hear it in your aggressive words, but you don’t scare us, you just remind us of what we as men and women and a culture have evolved from.

        We don’t expect our friends to be our maids or disposable or spend money on us, but we do expect that our time is respected. If you ant to love our child, fantastic! Make sure you have that same desire in 6 months, a year, two years, five years, etc. We want you in our lives, but it can’t always be just when you deem it necessary.

        • 37

          Emily says

          Agreeing with Jackie here & i am in my late 20′s. This is such an entitled post, and honestly the exact opposite of what my friends have “expected ” . I was so worried about intruding that I disappointed friends, including a best friend & it changed our friendship. This is the advice of a spoiled,entitled & ungrateful women – not all women.

        • 38

          Kate says

          Wow, Jen.
          I’m in my late 20s and I totally agree with Jackie. I am proud I was raised by several women wih her “perspective.”

          I do believe your comment has won the award of being The Most Hateful Thing I’ve Read Online Today. Congratulations.

      • 42

        AnneMarie says

        Wow, what a kind support you must be to any DIL of yours. I didn’t want my babies held by extended family members who felt somehow entitled to them, drenched in hormone-disrupting perfumes and SIDS-causing cigarette smoke. Not helpful. How entitled I must be, to have wanted to eat once every day or two, while feeding two other human beings exclusively with my body. Those who cared enough to bring food and leave quickly are still regular mutual visitors, years later. Those who thought I was lucky to bask in their presence simply because they were excited may now get an annual card, and I’m surprisingly not wishing for their return. Trust me, the women who you feel are too entitled to deserve your non-contributory presence…they don’t want you there anyway. So stay away from any new mothers aside from your daughter. It’s a win-win.

          • 44

            Jennifer says

            HAHAHAH Kate – you are so right. And AnneMarie and Jen… you’re not only insane, but mean. I don’t know why you care about people wanting to visit you and hold your babies – clearly, you have nobody in your life. OH WAIT, thats probably why you pretend like you “dont want them there” because there’s no one there… sad.

        • 45

          Miranda says

          I agree with Jen and Jackie; however we all have our own opinions…its an OPINION people…that’s the one thing that everyone actually is “entitled” to. There is no need for sassy or hateful remarks. If you can’t share your opinion tastefully, then please abstain from doing so.

    • 47

      Flabbergasted says

      My god. Here I was, thinking the article was the pinnacle of the entitlement I should expect to see, when your comment truly takes the cake for “most sanctimonious shit” on the post. I don’t even have the patience to bother addressing the ludicrous demands put upon visitors by the article’s author, the majority of commenters and yourself, as they are just that fckn ridiculous, but then you took it to a whole new level of absurdity and narcissism. Now not only do you expect visitors to bring you and the baby gifts, clean your house, bring you food, cook for you, do your dishes and a multitude of other chores before just quietly leaving, you actually think that they are responsible for buying presents for all of your OTHER spawn, too?! Lady, you are a profoundly deluded megalomaniac with the most bloated sense of entitlement I have ever encountered, and I shudder to think that the rest of us are forced to share the same planet with people like you.

      • 48

        Jules says

        I agree whole-heartedly. And shudder to think what the kids these kinds of people have will grow up to be like.

    • 49

      Katie says

      I always bring a treat for the whole family- ie. big plate of cookies. You can always bring stickers, white paper and crayons, candy (every new mom needs to bribe a toddler now and then!), or a fun book. I also try to talk to the newly-made big brother(s) or sister(s) and take an honest interest in them. Have them help clean the kitchen with a rag and spray bottle, or “help” put away dishes. They like to know they are important too!

  6. 50

    Audrey says

    Be the friend who calls while Mom is in the hospital to see if she can take care of anything at home (put out the dog, bring Dad clean clothes, get the house ready) If you run off in labor from a disaster zone, nothing beats bringing baby home to fresh sheets and a clean kitchen.

  7. 51

    B says

    I would like to add DO NOT bring your small children with you to visit! That is not nice or helpful. No matter how cute your kids are or how much we love them, they are loud and messy and one more headache to endure.

    • 52

      Kim says

      I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one UNLESS there is an older sibling around the same age who would love the playtime! Lol

    • 53

      AK says

      Oh my goodness, do I agree! I had a friend bring over lunch for us to share, but it was a lunch that required dishes and utensils, and we do not have a dishwasher. Oh, and she brought her 2-year-old. So I spent at least 45 minutes cleaning up after them when they left, because they did not help with dishes or lunch clean-up, and her kid tore apart my living room and dumped out toys, blankets, coasters, books, etc, everything that was neatly put away. The kid even put both my baby’s pacifiers in her mouth, which then had to be boiled. They weren’t asked back anytime soon. Having them over is too much work.

  8. 54

    Mamarific says

    Oh crap, I was guilty of so many of these before I had kids and KNEW. Thank you for doing public service duty today and educating the masses.

  9. 55

    Ruby says

    After having an emergency c-section just after Christmas, a month before we expected to have the baby, I allowed mother-in-law to stay over. I could really use the help as we still hadn’t cleaned up the family party stuff and my toddler’s cloth diapers were overflowing in the bucket. I hadn’t gotten to finish folding laundry and the dishes from the night before we went to the hospital were getting funky. What did she decide to help with? She wanted to hold the baby and take care of the nighttime feedings “so you can get some rest”. NO!

    • 56

      Stacey says

      LOL. My MIL offered to help with night feedings, too… I told her, “Okay, but it’s going to be a little awkward sitting there with you holding my boob!” Thankfully she has a good sense of humor and laughed, then did the dishes. :)

  10. 57

    Sarah says

    Whenever there was a new baby to hold with my friends, I brought care packages: frozen containers of my husband’s famous red sauce placed in the freezer, beer for Dad, cookies… Then I stole the baby, and told Mom to take a nap or a shower if the baby had been recently fed. I cleaned the stove once for a friend, and cleaned-up/organized all the older siblings toys in the playroom once for another. I was paying it forward– there was one friend who helped me with errands and laundry after I had a c-section with my second. She was a life saver!

        • 61

          Wuffles says

          Honestly, I think if people do it without being asked, it can be really sweet. Right after my Grandma died, my girlfriend came over to see how I was and I was still completely shell shocked. She gently nudged me into a hot bath and did all of the dishes whilst I was off taking care of myself and I still tear up thinking about it because it was so unexpected and kind. My little sister had been running home, cooking dinner and rushing straight back out to the hospital for days so it was a complete fright show and for someone to just take care of it without being asked or any expectation of reward was amazing. That incident is one of the things that my mind immediately springs to when people ask when we felt we loved each other.

          Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wouldn’t EXPECT it of anyone but it was one of the loveliest things anyone has ever done for me and I could see myself doing something similar if it was a situation where I knew it would make that big a difference to someone emotionally.

  11. 62

    Leila says

    Love this article. When I had my son, the only person in the first few months of his life that took my son and told me to go take a nap was my BIL. A single man that i thought had NO xp with a child. He held him for two hours while i passed out on my bed. forever grateful.

  12. 63

    Crystal says

    I do remember trying to be a polite and attentive hostess while they held the baby and put him right to sleep after I spent the day trying my hardest to keep him awake, hoping we’d all get a little sleep that night. At the same time, willing my “guests” over and over in my head “please go home, please go home, PLEASE GO HOME…”

      • 65

        Momk says

        Yes, because telling them to go home would not seem ungrateful or change the friendship at all. Duh! This isn’t about expecting these things, it is about how to be a good guest. This mother, yes as many before her, just went through a marathon so to speak. If you want to congratulate…send a card, call, text. If you want to see baby…wait for a picture. If you truly care for the person, you would insticntly want to help make things a little easier for them. I usually bring a meal to trade for baby snuggles and ask the mama which of a few choices sounds better. We all know that after having a baby, cooking doesnt usually happen often at first. For my last, #4, my husband is a supervisor and couldnt take any time off work. My older 3 kids would have been having a lot of cereal & fast food which isnt fair to them, but they would survive. Instead, i had great family/friends who brought home cooked meals for us. It was a delight! They are not raising my children because they made us spaghetti! I did not need gifts, 4 kids so i had all i needed. While i dont agree with every detail (eg: expensive meal) the sentiment is a good one. While you may not expect a new mother to be a good hostess, she will still feel the need to when she should be resting and letting her body heal properly. We all know you are going to show up in clean clothes, hair done, & makeup on while this woman is trying to remember the last time she saw the inside of a shower/tub and trying to figure out how many fays she has been wearing that shirt or if she remembered to brush her teeth. Be a good friend, relative, whatever and help out for a few minutes…like it would kill you? You are the ungrateful one expecting to go bother someone during their baby bonding time. You are the lazy one who cant help another person out. What if they broke their leg, would you expect all the same things out of them as a hostess or would you let them rest and visit when they are feeling better? Would you offer to get them a drink from the other room or would you expect them to hobble in there and make you one?

        • 66

          Miranda says

          I 110% agree with you, even about the “expensive meal” part. I honestly can’t believe an earlier poster insinuated that people that accept these measures should “raise their own kids”…helping a friend is a nice supportive gesture, you’re not adopting their children.

        • 67

          Mash says

          thank you. I could not agree more. when people say “you can just ask people to leave” I always think about some people never asking if we wanted a visit. Sometimes it’s just “we want to see the baby!”. And yes, sometimes all I could think of was “please leave, please…”. I have great friends who followed all the “rules” without ever being asked to. I have some good friends that it was good to see but I can’t say anything pleasant about their visit. Either way, as a new mom who largely relies on herself and really doesn’t want any favors, I somehow still like the “rules” and will follow them with the friends of mine who have babies. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, especially new parents.

  13. 68

    Sarah says

    I’ve thought about this a lot because I was SO that friend!! Go over, empty-handed, just to hold and smell the baby and chit chat with the new mom. No more!! We’re on baby #3 (39.5 weeks…) and I just hope everyone with good intentions reads this post! :) :)

  14. 69

    Jane says

    While I COMPLETELY understand where you’re coming from, and can certainly sympathize with the exhaustion a new mother experiences, and the inevitably rude guests she has to endure, I’m not sure I can completely agree with the way you have commodified friendship here. Your friends are only good to you as a new mother by what they can BUY you? They have to bring you food, but not just any food, food from a HIGH END restaurant? So what you’re saying is that if one of my friends has a child, as a broke student who can barely afford to feed myself, I can never, ever, go visit them, because my company is basically worthless? You’ve offered a lot of great suggestions here about helping out with the cleaning, and giving the mother a break, but the tone of this piece made me uncomfortable and frankly, ashamed of my behaviour in the past because I DIDN’T bring elaborate meals and gifts for all of children when I went to visit new-moms in my life who I love very much. If your intention was to shame me, then well done! You’ve ensured I will never go visit a new mother until I have a salaried carear and enough money to lavish gifts upon those I love.

    • 70

      Nilzed says

      As a broke student, your good intentions needn’t be codified in cash. You are the dishwasher, the laundry folder, the tidier upper, the special attention to the other children giver. Perhaps even the cook using what ingredients they do have.

      All those non-cash actions were mentioned too. You seem to have missed them.

    • 72

      Kay says

      When I was a new mom, I’d have been happy with ANY food. And I did like the companionship, because it made me feel more human and normal and like my life wasn’t completely upside-down. I think the takeaway is: be helpful without being asked (do the dishes—yes please!), don’t say “yes” if New Mom asks if you want a coffee (you get it yourself, and make her something too), and, if you can, send New Mom to have a baby-less rest or bath while you take over.

    • 73

      Arnebya says

      Eh. Don’t be ashamed. I don’t think, Jane, that the author was being so absolute in her suggestions, you know? (Besides, she can’t tell anyone else what to do; even her suggestions are just that. Everything doesn’t work for everybody and sometimes the things she’s listed aren’t wanted either.) You know if you’re a good friend and you do what you can. If you can’t bring anything but you want to see the baby/your friend, just ask if it’s a good time to come over (and make sure she’s not just being polite. Most people don’t want to be rude but just make sure she means it.) Then maybe see what the family needs help with inside the house. Money and gifts will never take the place of a new mom getting a well-needed nap or having a friend to listen to some of the bullshit that newborns do like refuse to sleep or that irritating crying thing that happens or pooping yet again. Seriously, again? You couldn’t do that before I changed you?

      You’re a worthwhile person; you know that. Each person is different. Visit new moms with genuine feeling and care in mind and you’ll be fine.

      • 76

        Kim says

        It is painfully clear that you are one of those smug mommies that thinks the world should revolve around you because you did something billions of women did before you. YOU ARE THE EXACTLEY THE SANCTIMOMMIE I AVOID!

        • 77

          Jessica says

          Oh geez. Here we go. I am not at all a smug mommy. I was only stating that it was clear she didnt have children nor did she get the humor in this post. Calm down.

          • 78

            Reginald van der Slythe III says

            Neither of those things is clear, unless you’re purposely projecting those things in order to build a strawman you can proceed to mock. Which I’m guessing was exactly your plan.

            I don’t think you’re the one to decide who has a sense of humor, either, considering how humorless you’re coming off here. You really need to relax.

        • 79

          Common Sense Mom says

          Well I see that SOMEBODY needs to get laid.

          You do realize that this entire website is dedicated to sarcasm, snarkiness and general bitching don’t you? This is a place to vent your deepest darkest thoughts. It’s NOT reality, it’s just a piece of reality. We vent here then go back to our families smiling and a little lighter. Chill out honey.

          • 80

            Emily says

            yikes.. “Someone needs to get laid”? I’m sorry but, do you expect for people not to critique something like this? Comments and replies like the one quoted kill the conversation. If you’re not wanting differing views, then create a private blog.

        • 81

          Common Sense Mom says

          You do realize that this entire website is dedicated to sarcasm, snarkiness and general bitching don’t you? This is a place to vent your deepest darkest thoughts. It’s NOT reality, it’s just a piece of reality. We vent here then go back to our families smiling and a little lighter. Don’t take any of this too seriously.

    • 83

      Rachael Y says

      I can tell you Robyn does not commodify her friends. I am the friend who brought my husband – he held the baby while I cleaned. It’s not about the financial gift. Her being able to bathe and wash her hair meant more than anything we could have bought or brought.

      For her second child I went for a week. Cleaned, did laundry, and had a blast with her older child.

      Why did I clean and stay? Because my family is on a fixed income and the most valuable thing I have to offer is myself.

      • 84

        Jane says

        No personal offense was meant!! I was only commenting on the tone of this post, which rubbed me the wrong way…(and geeze, I never expected a comment I made while half-sleep to generate so much feedback!) That’s really lovely that you and your husband did that, and I apologize if it sounded like I was slighting your friend. As someone on a fixed income myself, I really appreciate what you said about donating time–which is something I’ve done myself for friends with kids :)

    • 86

      Genevra says

      I agree that there are some unfortunate remarks mixed in with the good advice in this article, the worst of which is: “I hate to say it, but if you can’t afford to buy her a nice lunch then you need to consider whether you can really afford to hold this baby.” This is sad, and false, and should NOT shame people like Jane into staying away from their friends. The rest of the article lays out lots of good ways to help a new mom and dad that needn’t cost anything, though, so just pretend you didn’t read the first paragraph. :)

      P.S. It’s refreshing to see that there are still people out there who are sensitive to (and upset by) the commodification of friendship, which is completely out of control these days.

    • 87


      Thank you Jane! I was beginning to think I was the only one who saw this as a problem. Gifts are nice, but not required. As I was reading this post I was thinking, Does she actually like these “friends” she speaks of?? The cleaning is 100% spot on, you should always help out if you visit a new mom, but requiring friends to spend money is just ridiculous.

  15. 88

    BonnyBard says

    Ah, the road to hell is paved in childless people’s good intentions, right? After two kids I agree with every single thing you wrote as well as many of the additions in the comments. What amazes me is how quickly people forget what it’s like with a new baby! (like my MIL, who would come over and “help” and whom I had to feed three times a day cause she can’t seem to manage even boiled eggs.) So, now I do whatever I can for new mom friends… as a way to pay it forward, I guess, and to pay for the mistakes of the past!!

    • 89

      Sharon says

      To BonnyBard, “The road to hell is paved with childless people’s good intentions”??? Really? Must be nice to be so self righteous. Being childless myself, through no decision or fault of my own, I’m offended. Sorry your MIL is like that, but I don’t think the intention of this post was for you to vent at your MIL. I have been teaching for almost 30 years, and believe me, I may not have given birth to any children, but I have had lots of them. Who respect me. My sister has 3 children, who I like to think I have done some good for. I had a foster child. Absolutely no offense to the new moms here and your opinions, I respect them entirely. But Bonnie? Do you want to take legal custody of a 14 year old child with problems? Sorry about your MIL, but I don’t think this was the point of the original post. Maybe bring this, or that was a bit, over, but, the point was the same. Do what you can. Maybe someone should make you a cup of tea. Maybe I’m going overboard on you here after rereading your post. But the childless bit was out of line. Some of us don’t choose to be that way you know.

      • 90


        Hi Sharon, I’m sorry, my comment was insensitive. I didn’t mean to offend you, I was really only thinking of the friends with no kids (for whatever reason) or older family members and friends with grown kids who don’t remember what new babydom is like. Also, not everyone is overwhelmed by a new baby in the same manner, like I was, and I’m sure you’ve been a great mom to your foster kids and influence on your students and nieces and nephews. Lastly, my intention wasn’t really to vent on my MIL but to use her as an example. Anyway, sorry to have upset you.

        • 91

          Emily says

          I’ve been reading through these comments & saw yours with that quotes & now your reply & thank you- for explaining your point & showing that you respect those who don’t have children.. Wish a lot of new moms would see that some of their child-less friends are desperate for kids of their own & are doing their best to support & celebrate you.

  16. 93

    Lizzy says

    Jane, she writes that you can bring food you’ve cooked, as long as it tastes good.

    When I had my baby, two friends really stood out as amazing. The one couple who stayed at our place when labor turned into a much longer ordeal than we expected so they could take care of our dog. They also went out and got staples for our fridge because we didn’t have any bread, eggs, milk, etc.

    The other couple knew when we were coming home and left a casserole on our front stoop for dinner that night. It was amazing.

    On the flip side, moms, don’t be afraid to ask for help! I told anyone who wanted to come that they were welcome as long as they brought food. I really didn’t care if it was takeaway or a homemade meal or even a gift card to Let’s Dish!. It had to be something.

    One last rule for visiting a new mom: DON’T overstay your visit! Unless mom is showering/taking a bath/taking a nap, be in and out in 30 minutes. It’s exhausting. Go away.

  17. 97

    Jennifer Haywood says

    One of my best friends just had a baby and I’m not visiting for a couple of weeks to let things settle down…add to the list “send in the mail a package for the mama” I sent her some new comfy sweats, hoodie and t-shirts that are just her thing, right for nursing, and will hopefully make her feel a little more human since her clothes are probably too tight still…she texted me that I get the “best friend award” for knowing exactly what she needed!

  18. 98

    Beth says

    This is list is both bitchy and spot on. I waffle between them because not a single friend came to visit after I had my son. Being the first to get married and get pregnant alienated me from most friends for some reason (married ladies still drink, and pregnant ones still like to go out!). My mom stayed with me and even though she kept saying she didn’t know what she was doing here since we were doing so well on our own, I know that she did more than either of us realized. Like when she went to the pharmacy to get my nipple cream after I came down stairs in tears on day three of being home.

  19. 99

    Amanda says

    For some reason, this made me ache for a new baby! My twins are 8 years old and I want a tiny baby….but only for about an hour or so.

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