Helping your nonparent friends get to know your toddler

It’s natural for your relationships to change when you’re raising a child, and this is especially true when it comes to your friendships with people who don’t have kids. All this said, though, having a child doesn’t have to separate you from your non-parent friends. If they’re open to it, embrace the chance to introduce Baby to these friends. They’ll get to know Baby and all their quirks, and in the process, get more comfortable spending time with the two of you.

Consider these tips if it’s something you want to try.

Not every friend is a candidate

Some adults simply don’t want to be around a toddler. This isn’t to say that your non-parent friends won’t immediately fall in love with Baby – they probably will! But it’s not a guarantee. The more completely you accept this, the less hurt you’ll be if someone declines an invitation to hang with you and Baby. Don’t take it personally; it’s just how things go sometimes.

Invite close friends over

For the friends who do express interest in spending time with you and Baby, invite them over for tea and coffee, or board games, or just general fun things you can do in your home. You could make it spontaneous or you could try to make it more regular, for example, a monthly gathering at your place. Either way, the benefits of hosting include a fully stocked living space (yours) with everything you need to care for Baby, a home that you’re not as worried about messes, and plenty of opportunities for your friends to interact with Baby.

Let them babysit (if they offer)

If your close friend offers to babysit, or even watch Baby while you work on something in another room, let them! This is an amazing opportunity for the two of them to get some time together. Make sure that you talk to them in advance about things like payment, rules, and discipline, and whether it’s okay or not for them to post pictures or videos of Baby on social media.

Be honest if plans have to change

It will be impossible to maintain the same kind of friendship that you had with your friends, pre-baby. That doesn’t mean the three of you can’t have a great time together, but you do have to accept that your priorities have shifted. If a week is crazy and you can’t make a scheduled date, be upfront about telling your friend what’s going on, and reschedule when you can.

What not to do

You’ve already got so much on your plate that even more rules and suggestions might seem like an overload. But in addition to being positive and welcoming, you also want to be tactful and sensitive to your friend.

  • Don’t ask about their fertility: It’s not okay to ask them why they don’t have kids, to ask if Baby makes them want a kid, or to tell them they’ll change their mind about kids one day. You don’t know what’s going on in their life, or why they don’t have children, so play it safe and don’t bring it up. If they want you to know, they’ll offer.
  • Be careful with social media: It’s hard for people without kids to imagine what it’s like to be a parent. This said, if you post articles that are negative or alienating to non-parents, you risk offending people that you once had a friendship with.
  • Don’t over-complain or compare: It might be hard sometimes, but try not to complain too too much or tell them they’re lucky not to have a toddler. Obviously, if your friend is letting you vent, that’s a different situation. But even if you’re caught up in the heat of the moment, this can be off-putting for people and can make them uncomfortable.
  • Do ask if you can bring Baby over: For appropriate events, it doesn’t hurt to ask your friends if the event is toddler-friendly. Sometimes they might say yes, sometimes they might say no, but either way you’ll open yourself and Baby up to more social opportunities. 

Remember: they’re your friend first

Assuming these friends are your good friends – and honestly, you’ll probably need to prioritize these friendships over the more casual acquaintances – you’ll want to make a genuine effort to maintain your relationship with them. This means asking questions about their life and being sensitive to the fact that just because they don’t have a child doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot going on in their life.

Don’t force it!

It’s much, much, much easier said than done, and you have a lot of other responsibilities to worry about, too. But really, these things take time and they are impossible to control or predict. If your non-parent friends have expressed interest in spending time with you and Baby, it’s absolutely worth giving it a shot and seeing where things go. Try to enjoy your time together. You never know – this could be the start of a wonderful friendship between your toddler and your friends.

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