As you can see on our Instagram lately, I have been visiting quite a few new mommies with their babies this past week. While seeing them, I thought about how many people don’t know what to do or bring when they visit a new mother. We have completely lost the whole concept of supporting a new mom and the family and coming together as a village to help. She is going through so much after having a baby, and she could use an extra pair of hands without having to ask. Thankfully, most people do want to help, but they’re not just sure how. This is why I’ve come up with a list of the 15 best things you can do for a new mom.
1. Drop Off Food
New parents don’t have the energy to make or even think about what they will have for a meal. Shoot, they sometimes also need to be reminded that they have to stop and eat! Be a dear and drop off a meal to them, preferably something they can throw in the fridge or freezer and then microwave later. Please do NOT ring the doorbell when you are at their door! (By doing that, you could wake up mom and or baby. Not cool!) Give the door a knock (assuming they don’t have dogs), and if no one can answer, send them a text that food waiting is at their doorstep. If you are coming by unannounced, the family probably doesn’t feel like making small talk, so leave the food with a text and go on your way. Don’t worry. This should only last a few months, so you will see your friend soon.
2. Set Up a Meal Train
This is probably the best thing you can do for a new parent. Mealtrain.com is seriously a new mom’s best friend. Set it up so that you and a bunch of friends and their family members can pitch in to make sure the new parents are being fed during those crazy first days and months. If you are the leader of the meal train, you can provide everybody a list of their favorite foods, restaurants to order from (and specific orders), and grocery store items. You want to get the new parents a combination of healthy meals, snacks, and a few sweet treats.
3. Bring Diapers and Wipes
If you’re not going to bring the family food, then bring something useful. No parent can ever have enough diapers or wipes. This is always a safe and much-needed gift to bring. Be sure to ask what size is appropriate first! You don’t want to bring them the wrong size.
4. Clean Something
If money is a little tight or if the new mom doesn’t need you to bring anything, offer to help clean up around the house. She will probably say no but do it anyway. She will honestly be so grateful and glad that you did. Look around and see what you can help with. Here are some things to look for:
- Does the dishwasher need to be emptied and refilled?
- Does her kitchen counter or bathroom counter need to be wiped down?
- Is the trash or diaper pail full and needs to be taken out?
- Does the laundry need to be folded?
- Do bottles need to be cleaned and or sanitized?
If you want to do something extra nice (and have the cash to do it), pay for a housekeeper to come by and clean their home. You and a few friends could pitch in and get this for their family as a gift. She will love it!
5. Watch Her Kids
The new mom is probably dying to take a nap, or a shower, or bath, or all three! Offer to come by and watch all of her kiddos (if she has more than one) and tell her to take all the time she needs. Even if you are just watching her older children, you can help her get some uninterrupted alone time with her newborn.
6. Help Out with Her To-Do List
She may have a whole list of things to do! Maybe she needs to run and pick up medications at the pharmacy, get her dry cleaning, or buy more diapers. She might want some help finishing her ‘Thank You’ notes and someone to drop them off at the post office. She may need you to find and call a lactation consultant or a postpartum doula. Whatever is on her to-do list, help her tackle it. You can either go with her and baby to run her errands – she might love getting out of the house – or offer to run the errands for her. Even filling up her car tank with gas would be so much appreciated.
7. Don’t Immediately Ask to Hold the Baby
After having a baby, everyone wants to come over because they want to see and meet the newest addition. There’s nothing wrong with that! But what is the new mom, chopped liver?! While some mothers are excited to have a friend come over and have an adult conversation and someone other than herself holds the baby, other moms don’t want to hand over their child immediately. Be a good friend and be present for the mother. Ask how she is doing. Talk about her, and show that you are there to support her and her family. After a little while, then you can ask if you can hold the baby. If she says yes, then move on to number 8…
8. Wash Your Hands Before Holding the Baby
A lot of new parents are super germ-conscious, so be sure to wash your hands. Extra points if you do it without them having to ask!
9. Don’t Freak Out When the Baby Cries
If you didn’t already know this, babies cry. That’s a way that they communicate. Don’t freak out when the little one starts to whimper in your arms and immediately give the baby to mom. She has to soothe her baby all day and night, so be helpful and calm the baby yourself. If baby is still fussy after your attempts, then hand the baby over to mom. New mothers want to see you confident while being around and holding their baby, so freaking out makes them freak out. Stay calm.
10. Help Her Figure Out Her New Baby Products
Who knew that there was so much baby stuff? Some of it can be quite difficult, too. Ask the new mom if she needs help figuring out any of these new products. She may need some help learning how to use her baby carrier, or cloth diapers, or bottle sterilizer, or baby bouncer, etc. Look them up on YouTube or read the manual if you don’t know how to assemble and or use them. She already has enough on her plate, trying to take care of herself, her family, and her newborn baby. Learning how to use these things will help make her journey through motherhood easier.
11. Pamper the New Mom
Other great things that new moms love to get are gift certificates to get a massage (postnatal massages are the best and can help her body heal), or a haircut/blow out, or a mani/pedi. She’s been through the wringer after giving birth, so getting pampered is precisely what she needs. Either offer to babysit so that she can get out of the house, or (if she wants to keep the baby close) offer to go with her and watch her little one while she gets some much-deserved pampering.
12. Take Some Photos
Most moms can agree when I say that they are the ones that are usually taking the pictures and are not in the pictures. (Unless they are selfies. 😉 ) Offer to come by with your nice camera (or use her smartphone) to snap photos of the glowing momma and her baby. And if the dad/partner is there, even better! Take some pictures of their new family. It’s rare for them to have photos of all of them together. And their little one is only going to get bigger and change every day.
13. Offer to Help During the Night
If you’re a really good friend or family member, offer to help at night. (Of course, make sure that everyone feels comfortable with that first.) Being able to help bring her baby to her when baby needs to eat and then putting the baby back to sleep for her or feeding the baby with a bottle while the mother and father/partner catch up on some sleep is an incredibly kind gift. She will forever remember and be grateful for that.
14. If You’re There During the Day, Don’t Stay Too Long
She’s been up all night and all day with her newborn. There is only so much time she can carry on a coherent conversation. If you’re there to watch the baby while the mom sleeps, stay as long as she needs you! But if you are there to catch up with her, make it brief. Be understanding and know that this is temporary.
15. Get Them a Postpartum Doula
Keep the help coming! Things do get easier as the time passes for mothers, but then new challenges come. Look into hiring a postpartum doula for the new mom to continue helping her during those first few months. (You can contact DONA International or look at DoulaMatch.net to see if there are doulas in her area that can help.) Once the newborn stage is over, keep offering your help with these tasks above. The good thing is, when it’s your turn, these mothers will do the same for you. 🙂
Again, it really does take a village to raise a child. Be that village and create the support system that is so desperately needed when a baby is born. And I recommend new moms and dads share this post and let it do the talking for you. 😉
For more on this topic, listen to our podcast episode where we talk all about how to help when visiting a new mom HERE