“It takes a village to raise a child” but as a new or expectant parent or “village member,” preparing for a new baby can be daunting. From siblings, to grandparents, to aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends, all of these people feel the ripple effect of having a baby. However, unlike parents, this larger social network may not have had the chance, motivation, or tailored resources to prepare for this change. So how can new or expectant parents help prepare non-parents for the birth of a child? Though the answer depends on the person’s age and their relationship to baby, here are some general tips to prepare your “village.”
Involve friends and family in preparing for the baby: Depending on your comfort level and your audience, involve your loved ones in preparations from going to doctor’s appointments, to packing your bag for the hospital, to deciding on a layout or paint color for the nursery. Inviting people to help you prepare can take some responsibilities off your long to-do list while also helping your family and friends feel like they have an important and appreciated role to play.
Journey down memory lane: Go through baby pictures and home videos from when you, your family members, or your older children were babies. Invite the baby’s grandparents to talk about how they felt when their children were born. Reflecting on these memories may bring up happy common experiences, start important conversations, and also build excitement for the new baby’s arrival.
Start talking…now: The best tool for a smooth transition is open communication between all those who will be in baby’s life. Whether you’re talking to a sibling- or grandparent- or aunt-to-be, start talking about the transition well before you go into labor. Communicate your needs, desires and boundaries as a new parent and let them express their excitement and concerns, too.
Having a baby affects so many aspects of life for parent(s), family and friends. You are all going through a transition that can be both glorious and challenging. Remember that even though you each play a unique and important role in baby’s life, you are each other’s greatest allies in this transition.
If you or your loved ones need a little more guidance, there are other resources available, too. For instance, Swedish hosts classes for soon-to-be grandparents and siblings that can provide great information and comfort as they prepare for the arrival of their new family member (learn more at www.swedish.org/childbirthclasses). In addition, there are also Infant Safety and CPR classes (both introductory courses and courses for certification) available. Perhaps you’re looking to have an older sibling or family friend get trained to babysit? Swedish offers Safe Sitter® classes so you can feel more comfortable leaving baby at home.
Whether you are a new or expectant parent or "village member," there are many ways to prepare for baby’s arrival. Start the transition early and look into resources to help make your “village’s” transition as smooth as possible.