For millennia, new parents have been catered to, helped out, and propped up by the rest of their tribe, family, community, and/or neighbors, and you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “it takes a village.”
But while in many Eastern cultures the norm is still to invite willing family members for an extended postpartum stay in order to ease the pressure of the transition on new parents, Western parents are trending the opposite direction.
It’s being dubbed “cocooning,” and basically means that new parents live in isolation with their newborn for weeks (or even months). Their home turns into a place the world cannot penetrate – not even family members and friends who would offer help during what is an extremely lonely, anxious time.
The thought behind the movement is that the practice keeps baby safe from pathogens, gives new parents the chance to bond, and keeps a calm environment for a newborn just figuring out that they’re no longer safe and comfortable 100% of the time.
That said, listen…as someone who has birthed two babies, I’m here to tell you that grandparents and other people who would change some diapers, put baby to sleep so you could shower, cook dinner, bring groceries, or fold a load of laundry aren’t hurting anyone.
If my own mother had not been around multiple days a week, my child would have been rolling around on a floor that was ankle deep in dog hair and dust, for example.
Not to mention that bonding with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other extended family members is also important – the more people that love and support your child, the better. Multiple studies exist on the importance of active grandparents in children’s lives, and all show that kids who are close to Grandma and Grandpa have greater chances at early success in life.
Cocooning also seems to be a strange doubling-down on the trend toward insulation we’re already seeing in society. Parents of young kids are already lonely. We’re already struggling to make mommy and daddy friends. We already feel as if we’re doing this alone, with only the internet to turn to for answers to our questions and fears.
As a society, we’re becoming more and more isolated, but when you’re turning your entire life upside down, the best thing you can do is invite the people in who are willing to help you right all of the furniture, clean the rug, and feed you dinner while you get your bearings.
It takes a village. Don’t hide from yours.