Finding just the right words when confronted with new baby

By Freida Marie Crump
Coonridge Digest
Greetings from the Ridge.
The Midwest has been known for its fertility since the beginning of time, but in the last few months we seem to be getting carried away. It seems like everywhere I turn I’m confronted with someone’s new baby. Maybe it can be blamed on the terribly cold nights we had last winter.
I’m always in a quandary on what to say when a newly-mothered lady holds her baby out to me. It helps if I know it’s coming and I can rehearse a few lines in the car before I get there. I’ve tried several with varying success:
“Oh how cute.” Yes, that’s about as trite as you can get and the mothers hear it so often that it probably rolls right off their ears. Besides, aren’t all babies cute? I mean, even if the child has three heads chances are that at least two of them are cute.

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“My! He looks just like his. . .” and here’s where you have to be careful. The safest choice is to say the child looks like her mother. It’s a changing world and the father may not be the fellow standing beside her.
“Goodness! What a chubby little rascal!” has pretty much gone out of favor as the increase in childhood obesity becomes more of a problem. Even though when they plop the tyke into your arms and you’re tempted to say, “Hey! That’s quite a load!” resist the urge. In fact, it’s best to avoid all baby ratings concerning poundage.
If you’re lucky enough to have the child grip your finger there’s absolutely no harm in exclaiming “Quite a grip on him!” Who could possible find fault with a baby’s clutching power?
In fact, if you can find anything to say that doesn’t comment upon the kid’s looks it’s pretty safe. Mama has spent weeks picking out just the right baby clothes so any compliment on apparel will be taken well.
Then you can move on to asking specific questions of your own that mean absolutely nothing but which the mother will delight in answering. “Does she sleep all night long?” “This has really changed your life, right?” and “I’ll bet he keeps you busy, huh?” are all perfectly acceptable. Questions to avoid include, “Are you sure you can afford this?” “Was this planned?” and “So how’s your love life?”
Life poses a few consternations that we must all endure, certain things that although painful must be dealt with. . . childbirth, income tax, colon exams, death, and baby showers. Even men are now often included in this rite of passage into family-hood. In fact, it’s not unusual to have the actual baby present at these post-natal events. If you attend, the trick is to make it out alive without brain damage. Pink or blue mints are de rigueur and the more extravagant showers have taken to dying the rest of the food the appropriate hues. There’s nothing like a blue chicken wing to put you off your feed.
But the real test of baby shower endurance comes when the dreaded cry of, “And now we have a few games!” is heard in the pink-clad church basement. Until you’ve built a sculpture out of finger-staining blue Play-Doh or bobbed for nipples, you just haven’t lived. I once gritted my teeth through a game called, “My Water Broke!” that involved plastic babies frozen into ice cubes. The first baby found floating free was the winner.
Baby companies have made a living out of selling silly shower games for distribution to your guests, ranging all the way from the mind-numbing Word Search and Word Scramble to What’s In Your Purse and the always-stimulating Baby Bingo. The fun is just short of experiencing a root canal.
Lest I end this trite tour on a downer, I’ll mention what was probably the finest baby shower I’d ever attend. The mother of the mother-to-be had four kids of her own and she planned this one.
We were to put out gifts in a quiet corner of the banquet hall, then she asked her daughter to come sit in a chair in the center of the room. Mom then simply thanked us for coming, asked for prayer for her daughter and invited each guest to say something real and genuine to the expectant mom. What followed was an hour of laughter and tears, hugs and smiles, and an afternoon that none of us will forget. Beautiful. Just beautiful. And our sandwiches weren’t dyed blue.
Here’s to the mama’s of the world! May you endure it!
You ever in Coonridge, stop by. We may not answer the door but you'll enjoy the trip.