Is it just me or does anyone else get extremely awkward around babies? I don’t not like them, but I don’t like them either. In fact, they’re just nothing to me.
Maybe when I’m older and in a situation where I can consider having one of my own, things will change. But for now, babies are not exciting to me at all.
The awkwardness comes in when people expect me to have some sort of a reaction to a baby. Friends of mine have started to have them and I just don’t know what to do/say around them.
I find myself saying a lot of ‘Aww he/she is gorgeous’ and then not knowing what else to say.
Over the last few years, as more and more babies have come into my life, I’ve found some ways to deal with the awkwardness that I hope will one day, help you.
1. Visit less frequently for the first year.
The first baby I came across was only 4 weeks old. After an hour at my friends house I asked, ‘so, when will he start doing stuff?’ the answer was ‘when he’s about 12 months old.’. TWELVE MONTHS OLD!? You’re telling me that every time I come round over the next year, I’m going to have to congratulate you on a ‘gorgeous’ baby that doesn’t do anything. I can’t do that! I physically can’t act that well. I know I can’t call round and just ignore the baby, but in the dedicated 20 minutes of each visit that involves oohing and ahhing over the baby, I just won’t have anything to say!
Awkward. It’s best to not call round too often this year.
2. Call it ‘gorgeous’.
I’ve found that calling a baby ‘cute’ just isn’t enough. New mums expect more, they want their little bundle to be complemented to the highest degree. Maybe the mother can tell the difference between their baby and the next, but I know I certainly can’t.
Lets face it, all babies look exactly the same but when the baby doesn’t do anything, the only thing you can really comment on is it’s appearance. Go for words such as ‘gorgeous’ and ‘beautiful’ and when you feel like you’ve worn that out, comment on the size of the baby. Try and gauge from the parents whether the baby is considered a small on or a large one.
Then, when you’ve found out, keep saying things like, ‘I can’t believe how tiny he/she is.’ or ‘Wow! He/she’s massive!’.
3. Don’t offer to hold it.
To try and break an awkward silence, when I know I should be saying something about the baby but I just don’t know what, I have made the mistake of asking if I could have a hold it. Don’t do this. Any parent will jump at the chance to offload their baby for half an hour onto somebody else and you’ll find out why after just 5 minutes.
Babies are a lot heavier than they look. The problem is, when your arm starts to lose all feeling and you realise only 5 minutes have passed, you can’t say, ‘My arms sore now, can you take him/her back’. These new mums have got to hold that baby pretty much 24/7, no way are you going to get away with handing back after such a short time.
Don’t offer in the first place and if they just ask you straight out if you want to hold him/her, just say that you’re afraid you’ll hurt it so you’d rather wait ’till he/she is a bit older.
4. ‘Oh what a lovely name’.
The moment you find out what your friend has named their baby can be one of the most awkward baby moments you encounter. Whatever the name is… you like it. Get me? You can never, under any circumstances, let the new parents think that you don’t like their babies name. It’s the ultimate insult.
Even if this little creature has been named Lord Voldemort, you have to respond, ‘Oh wow, what a great name! I would never have thought of something like that!’. If you’re really stuck for what to say you could go for, ‘Oh wow, how are you spelling that’?
6. Accept your new title.
From this day forward, you will now be know as Uncle/Aunty _________ . You have to accept this. Even though you are not related in any way, thats what the parents will call you and that is sometimes what you are going to have to refer yourself as.
Yes its awkward at first, especially when you realise it’s not just you who is now an imaginary relative, it’s every adult who comes within 3 feet of the baby.
7. Don’t call it, ‘it’.
If you’ve forgotten wether the baby is a boy or a girl and their is no pink or blue to indicate the gender, DON’T call the baby ‘it’. Worst case scenario you’ll have to call it, ‘your baby’. For example, ‘Your baby is gorgeous’, ‘I got a voucher for your baby because I though you might want to put it towards something in particular’ or ‘I’m afraid I’m not going to get a chance to come see you and your little baby again over the next few months’.
Why not share this advice with a friend who gets just as awkward around babies as you do?