How Community Can Help with a New Baby

It takes a neighbourhood
diverse group of people
© Can Stock Photo / mogddl

Historically, we lived in small villages and first-time parents and their new baby would be supported by a large community. Times have changed. We now have new parents–couples and singles–navigating their way through parenthood in, both figurative and literal, relative isolation, possibly with multiple older siblings and all while having to manage a household, finances and jobs. Needless to say, this can be overwhelming and can create a lot of stress in the home. Post-partum depression rates are on the rise, new moms are struggling to breastfeed and families are having a difficult time managing all the responsibilities.

The well-known proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” has the basic meaning of bringing up children in a communal effort. The responsibility of raising a child is shared with older siblings, extended family and the community at large. The timelessness of this wisdom can be applied today, with friends and neighbours working together to raise the children around them. Here we are sharing with you some ideas on how you can help with practical but much-appreciated tasks that create the sense that no one has to go through it alone or unsupported.

Bring food

There is nothing more appreciated by a new family than to have a healthy meal dropped off. Neighbours often organize “Meal Trains” with different households dropping off food on specific days. It can be something simple like homemade muffins and cut-up fruit or a full dinner. Just strive for something healthy and nutritious as new mamas need nutrient-dense foods, especially in the first few weeks of healing. Try the easy and nutritious granola recipe below!

Take the older siblings for the day

For families that have older children, it is such a wonderful treat for both the adults and siblings to have a wonderful day out. It can be a trip to the museum, local library or park, or a simple play date at home. It’s a great way to keep your own children busy playing with a special friend and the parents at home with a newborn can have some time to rest. It can also alleviate the sense of feeling left-out when so much attention is directed at the littlest one.

Help with household chores

It’s amazing how quickly a house can get turned upside down with the arrival of that tiny bundle of joy! It’s the little things like folding a basket of laundry or emptying the dishwasher that can be really helpful. You can also pool some neighbourhood money together and hire an environmentally sound cleaning company to come in and do a top-to-bottom cleaning job. I don’t know any new family who wouldn’t love that.

Tackle some errands

It’s really difficult to run around with a newborn and then add an older sibling or two! Ask what needs to get done. Pick up some groceries, drop off some library books or grab the dry cleaning. What may take you a few minutes can take a new mom a lot longer.

Hold the baby

This is such a simple thing that has no cost and has a huge effect. It is often hard for new moms to find the time to take a shower, let alone grab some food! So just coming over and holding the new baby can be a wonderful way to help. Plus, who doesn’t love holding a new baby?!

Let others help

If you're the new parent reading this, you may know it can be really hard to accept help. We are taught from a young age to be independent and not burden other people with our responsibilities. To all new families, it is ok to accept these offers. When someone asks if they can drop off a meal or take your older child for a play date, practice the art of saying “Yes!” To families, friends and neighbours, remember some people may feel hesitant to ask for help, which may require you to be assertive but not pushy – sometimes they may just need privacy. Recognize the difference and offer what you can. The act of helping others offers a thousand returns.

Simple Granola Recipe

Oats are calming to the nervous system and help to support lactation. The nuts and seeds add healthy fats and protein and the spices help to balance blood sugar levels. Pour into mason jars and drop off this healthy snack to a new family.

  • 4 cups large flaked oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ground ginger

Add nuts and seeds (be mindful of allergens) such as:

  • 2 tbsp of flax seeds and/or sesame seeds

  • ¼ cup of slivered almonds and/or pumpkin seeds

Whisk ⅓ cup maple syrup with ⅓ cup melted coconut oil.
Mix the liquid with the oat mixture.
Bake at 300F for 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice.