When I had my first, people were really condescending to me, so I try hard to make new moms feel like I'm supporting them rather than insulting them. I think it's especially important if they are a young mom (which I wasn't). Here are some things that I do:
- I do suggest parenting advice, but never like I'm trying to teach them. My favorite type of thing to do is buy them a copy of Dr. Sears' Baby Book and give it as a gift and say "I'm not sure if you guys had a parenting strategy yet, but this is my favorite book. It really helped me when I didn't know what else to do and it made my life SO much easier. Plus, I love it because it uses parenting practices that are really gentle on babies."
- I NEVER tell new parents that they'll "change their mind" or things like "wait and see." Other parents still do this to me to this day and it's incredibly condescending and upsetting. If I make a parenting decision, I want people to support me, not treat me like I'm an idiot because it might not turn out the way I expect. Things don't always turn out the way anyone expects and there's no need to be insulting by stating the obvious. I just support the parent's decision.
- I love making new parents feel positive about parenting. Even the smallest little negative thing can have a profoundly negative affect on their parenting, even if your intentions are good. I throw in lots of things like "wow, you look so amazing," or "you guys are going to love being parents," or "you'll be an amazing mom, I can tell." Uplifting the parents has a more positive effect on their ability to parent than anything else. I feel like I would be a much better mom today if all of the other moms around me didn't drag me down from the start.
- Telling them things that let them know you support them is good, too. "People are going to tell you you're doing it all wrong. Don't listen to them. You'll be a great mom and know what's best for your baby. You do what you know your baby needs and screw what they think." And I have to say this knowing that I won't agree with all of their decisions, but that's all part of it. They don't have to do it the way I do.
- I don't know how other parents are, but I really hated when others bought me things for my baby. I don't know why. Maybe I'm nit-picky. I was annoyed at the types of clothes other people picked out (designs that I would NEVER pick out for my own child). I felt like I was being really ungrateful (and I was) so I never said anything. I just sucked it up. I'd say if you buy anything, just be sure to leave the tags on and say where you got it so they can take it back if they want to, or ask specifically what they need instead of just going out and buying things.
- And definitely the food idea! Offer to come over and help with laundry and cooking now and then. :)