Any new mom knows that those first days, weeks and even months, can be challenging in many ways. The lack of sleep, hormonal changes, getting the hang of breastfeeding, and above all, getting to know this new little life you brought into the world and learning how to take care of another human being. Combined with healing from birth and your fluctuating hormones, it can be a big struggle for many women. Sometimes I long for the days when it really did take “a village to raise a child” since being a new parent can be overwhelming. Being surrounded by a loving, supportive team can make all the difference. I remember that some of the easiest tasks I previously took for granted…like eating for instance!…suddenly became huge obstacles for me once I had a newborn. Trying to find time to eat nutritious meals, let alone have a shower, seemed impossible on some days. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for a personal chef and someone to just do the laundry and clean up! On top of a solid night’s sleep too.
I know how tough those first weeks can be in terms of finding time to eat healthy meals, so whenever a friend has a new baby, I like to bring over a little care package of nutritious food. We had a couple of people do this for us and I know it was the best possible gift anyone could have brought. Thank you friends! On top of food, there are many other things new parents can use help with. Don’t be afraid to ask, or even just come over to help at a time that is good for the mom and dad. It can be tough for people to ask for help, so sometimes it’s better to just do it:) Here are some of the top items for what to bring a new mom (or dad).
- MEALS – This is a huge one. A big hearty soup, lasagna or casserole are all great ideas. Even better if there is enough for leftovers for lunch the next day. Add in a ready-made salad and maybe a baguette, and this is an awesome, filling meal. One friend brought us a bunch of individual-sized homemade meals, which is also helpful. Another wonderful plan would be to do some batch cooking. Maybe you can get another few friends or family members involved and whip up some big batches of food that can easily be frozen and drop them off. These are some of our favourite veggie freezer meals. If you don’t live in town, sending a gift certificate for their favourite local restaurant or take-out joint (hopefully one that delivers!) works too.
- ORGANIZE A MEAL TRAIN – Mealtrain.com is an amazing resource and a super easy way to organize a bunch of people together to help bring meals to someone in need, like new parents. It can help keep them fed for those first important days or weeks.
- ENERGY SNACKS – Any parent, especially one with a newborn, can use some more energy. Combined with breastfeeding too and a new mom REALLY needs that extra energy and those extra calories. Some good ideas would be healthy muffins or energy bars. I also like to cut up a big container of fruit to snack on, ideally whatever is in season, but some favourites are strawberries, grapes and melon. This is an easy go-to snack. Check out the list of simple snacks breastfeeding moms for more ideas on food to bring.
- YOUR TIME – This can be so precious and doesn’t cost anything. Offer an hour or two of your time (or more if you can spare it) to come over and help do whatever the new parents need assistance with the most. Maybe mom would LOVE a nice warm shower or bath, so you can look after the baby. Maybe she wants a little nap alone but the baby won’t sleep. There is always tons of laundry to be done as well as cleaning, so another idea would be to offer to do a few loads of laundry (fold too!) or take care of whatever cleaning needs to be done – the dishes, mop the floors, dust, clean the bathroom, etc.
- POSTPARTUM KIT – Healing from birth can vary depending on the type of birth and individual’s healing process. There is always some sort of physical healing involved though, whether it is minor or more major such as recovering from a C-section. I’ve previously written about postpartum essentials for new moms, and some nice gifts would be a homemade healing bath, an Earth Mama Angel Baby postpartum healing kit, or even some natural nipple butter. A nice herbal tea would also be good, coupled with a magazine or something to read.
- LOOK AFTER THE OLDER KIDS – If there are any other children, offer to take them out for a couple of hours. A playdate with your own kids if you have them or an hour or two at the park can give mom and baby some (hopefully) quiet alone time and maybe even a nap.
- OFFER TO RUN ERRANDS – There always seems to be a small list of items that new parents, especially first-timers, need that they might not have thought of before. Or maybe they’ve just run out more quickly than expected. Diapers, wipes, nursing pads, groceries, baby sleepers? I’m sure she would love to have someone else pick those up for her so she doesn’t have to worry about it.
- TAKE HER OUT – Many new moms are aching to get out of the house, especially after the first week or so. Offer to come over to help her get ready – new babies can be tricky to manage at first! – and just go for a nice walk around the block, maybe grab a coffee or tea, or whatever she wants to do. Maybe she even prefers to stay at home, but just could really use the company.
- A LISTENING EAR – Figuring things out as a first-time parent can be overwhelming. Having someone to talk to, get feedback from, or even just listen, can do more than you might think. Bring over some nice herbal tea and a snack and just offer your company if she wants it. Parenting can be lonely, we all know that, and when you’re first learning the ropes, having someone there alongside of you can make all the difference.