“What can I do to help?” This is the question I often hear from family, friends and partners of new mothers. These people want to help. They may even be enthusiastic about changing diapers and rocking a crying baby to sleep. But it’s not always clear to everyone what who should do when.
Sometimes moms need a nudge to get them delegate more. Sometimes dads or friends need more specific instructions or guidance. To help clear up any confusuion, here’s a handy list I like to give out to expectant couples showing what partners can and cannot do to help:
What a partner CAN DO:
Buy diapers, buy wipes, change diapers, throw away diapers, buy any other baby care items, bathe baby, clean bathtub, tend to baby’s cord, dress baby, undress baby, do laundry, burp baby, rock baby, take baby for a walk, hold baby, feed baby a bottle, wear baby in a sling or front carrier, rent a breast pump, buy breast pads, buy nipple ointment, sterilize pump or bottle parts, do any or all bottle feeding, make pediatrician appointments, go to pediatrician appointments, read up on baby care, locate resources for feeding and sleep help, start a child care search, buy food, order food, cook food, clean up the kitchen, deal with social arrangements, schedule guests, make coffee, make sure there is coffee, make sure there is milk, make sure there is whatever else anyone needs in the house, do the dishes, write thank you notes or emails, change sheets, do laundry ….
What a partner CANNOT DO:
Give birth, breastfeed.
Excerpted from From The Hips, the book I co-authored with Rebecca Odes.