Motherhood

Five Gifts for New Mothers

Newborn baby

We’ve tackled a bunch of reader questions, and today we have one for the group: “My friend just had a baby, and I’m going to visit her next week,” says Jamie. “Of course, I’m planning to bring food and hold the baby, but I’d love to bring something special just for her. Any suggestions?” Here are five ideas, and please weigh in, below…

1. A foot massage. If she’s sore from carrying around that wriggly baby, a reflexology appointment will feel SO GOOD. It magically relaxes your whole body. If you can’t spring for a pro, you could do it yourself. My friend Abbey came over when Anton was tiny and chatted with me while rubbing my feet on the sofa; I’ll never forget that kind gesture.

2. Stinky cheese. My friend Rachel just had a little boy, and she says the best gift she got was a $100 gift certificate to her local cheese shop. “After forty weeks of checking labels to see if things were pasteurized/safe for the baby, it felt like the ultimate me-time to go in and buy whatever decadent varieties I wanted! Also, charcuterie!” Or any other delicious treat — your legendary fried chicken, her favorite candy — you know she likes best.

3. Funny entertainment. Since new parents are pretty homebound (naps! feedings! more naps!), it feels good to enjoy a moment of grown-up culture during the day. You could write a list of show recommendations for her to watch while she feeds the baby. (Ours would include: Insecure, Catastrophe, and the movie Frances Ha.) Or a funny book that she can dip in and out of. (I loved this and this.) Or a smart magazine subscription that feels like a girly chat. (Elle has the best essays.)

5. Pick-me-up beauty products. Little luxuries go a long way, like a couple favorite beauty finds to help her feel like herself again. Caroline raves about this natural dry shampoo (such pretty packaging!), and I swear by this lip and cheek color, especially in the color Illusive.

6. A love letter. Most of all, you could write her a heartfelt list of the funny, real reasons that she’ll make a great mom, which she can read whenever she’s having a tough day or doubting herself. xoxo

Thoughts? What ideas would you add? If you’re a parent, what gifts/gestures did you appreciate most during those hazy early days? Congratulations to any new parents out there, and good luck and love to anyone who is trying.

P.S. Eight more gifts for new parents (including, doing the dishes!:), and five beautiful motherhood tips.

(Photo by Elle Wickens.)

  1. New underwear! That’s all I wanted. During pregnancy I stretched all mine out or only wore boring comfy ones… or they were destroyed by the loveliness (eh-hem) of a pregnant body. My favorite gift was new prettty undies- I felt like me again.

  2. CB says...

    My first was born 6 weeks early, and my mom, who had planned to be there at the birth, ended up hopping a flight out the day after I gave birth. She showed up with the best gifts: a pair of slippers and a lightweight, pretty cotton robe. Not only did the robe shield my backside in that flimsy hospital gown, but it was the perfect thing to wear through all the nights of midnight nursing. Now as my girlfriends have their babies, soft cotton PJs or robes are my go-to gifts. Moms always know best, don’t they?

    • K says...

      THIS! My son also came 6 weeks early, on the day before Mother’s Day. My mother-in-law got me a gorgeous set of cotton pajamas and the softest, lightest robe. I LIVED in that robe for the next few weeks. It was such a thoughtful gift and I secretly loved that it was just for me because in the beginning, it’s all about the baby. :)

  3. Julie says...

    i always bring over a nude lip stain. you know you’re going to be kissing the baby, and you don’t want to leave a big lip gloss smear on his head! also a little lipstick is a great pick me up when you’re overtired.

  4. Cassie says...

    This post reminds me that our friends and family are so generous in the early days of new motherhood—and those grifts are greatly appreciated—but, as I sit here tired, bleary eyed, and unshowered, with an almost-two-month-old and a three and a half year old, I am wishing for the same kindness in these slightly later days. Could someone bring us dinner tomorrow? Or come hold the baby while I clean my bedroom? Or take our toddler to the park? This is not to say that food and help in the early days is not wanted or needed, but rather to note that sometimes it’s nice to be remembered when it “seems” like you should have adjusted and don’t need the unexpected meal or helper to visit. Because, I’m certain none of us would turn down the offers.

    • Dawn says...

      What a lovely tip. You’ve inspired me to drop off dinner for my friend who has a six-month old. Wish I could bring you dinner tonight too!

  5. Judy says...

    After reading Dr. Erin Leonard’s latest book (How to Raise a Secure Child; Parenting with Empathy), this will become my go-to gift for new parents. It’s easy-to-read (a must for busy/exhausted parents!) and filled with examples of what to say and do when your child is in emotional distress. It should be on every parent’s reference shelf no matter the age of your children. Hard copies are currently only available at thebookpatch.com link below. Digital download at Amazon.

    https://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/how-to-raise-a-secure-child-parenting-with-empathy/0336aee3-b4bc-4ba5-8394-26156672651d?isbn=9781642549966

    Would love to see COJ consider a post on parenting with empathy or review and compile a list of related books. In an era where bullying and harsh words feel like the norm some days, this is an important and timely topic if we wish to raise resilient and caring children.

  6. Hilary says...

    My kids are 8 and 5, but I still remember the pain of sleep deprivation. (I’m not the person who exists well on a few hours of sleep!) So when a dear friend recently had a baby, I offered to come over and hold and feed the baby for the first nighttime “shift.” I arrived at 8 PM, she nursed the baby, left me a bottle–and went to bed. He was only a few weeks old and a little on the small side, so he was on an eating-every-two-hours schedule, so I fed him again at about 10:15, and she got up to nurse at 12:30. But she said she slept for four solid hours (I hope that’s true!), and I loved those wee, quiet hours with this new life. As I drove home down dark neighborhood streets, I thought about the magic of babies and about how much of a privilege it is to care for new parents.

    • Sarah K says...

      What a great idea!

    • this is a GREAT gift! i remember the first time i slept 4 hours in a row after my babe was born and it was like the skies opened up and the angels were singing hallelujah!! :)

    • Nicole says...

      This comment made me tear up (#pregnant)….right now, at 25 weeks pregnant with my second baby, the looming sleep deprivation, this time with a toddler, feels really daunting, and a friend doing this would be SUCH a gift.

    • That’s awesome.

  7. YES FOOD. After my first was born, a former colleague sent some frozen dinners from fresh direct. it was perfection. i now send them same to new parent friends.

  8. Devorah says...

    – Sushi!! A close friend brought me a few rolls of sushi a couple days after I had my baby, it was perfect! (Even when I dropped soy sauce on my newborn’s head :) ) – hearty, healthy muffins, the perfect one-handed energy food for that early-morning feeding when you are not ready for breakfast
    – a pre-made salad ready to go in a container with a dressing on the side. I really wanted nice big salads full of yummy things, but the thought of standing at the counter chopping veggies was exhausting. This can be homemade or just picked up from a salad place, that’s fine too!
    – her fave fancy coffee shop beverage that you pick up and bring over to her while it’s still hot! In those first few days at home, the thought of going out for coffee with the baby is daunting but the thought of an indulgent caffeinated beverage is very tempting, so when my friend showed up with a ridiculous whipped-cream-topped frappucino (that I had been craving all week), I was so grateful!
    – a cozy robe if she doesn’t have one (my husband surprised me with an enormous hotel style bathrobe that I lived in for a couple weeks there!)

  9. Rachel says...

    I don’t have kids, so I can’t speak from experience, but when our godson was born, my husband and I went to our friends’ house and DEEP cleaned before they came home from the hospital (showers, litter box, floors, etc). We also stocked the fridge with staples.
    Our friends went on and on about how nice it was to come home and not have to worry about chores for a little while.

  10. Trish says...

    I’ve followed the blog for probably a decade now, and have always appreciated the recommendations for book, fashion, etc. So when I saw the link to the ZZ Packer book, I checked it out of my library excited to read it. But then I started the first story, and saw the word “retarded” throughout and the story included characters mocking girls with special needs. I have a 7 year old son with Down syndrome, and it hurts my heart to constantly run into books, movies, comics, etc throwing around the “r” word. I don’t understand why people still think it’s okay to mock those with cognitive disabilities, and treat them as less than human. Why did you think it was okay to promote a book that does just that? We are fighting daily for our son to be included in school and to manage his multiple therapies and his ongoing medical challenges; and now I am disappointed to know that I cannot look to this blog to be sensitive to the needs of those with special needs. I was hoping that this blog could be a space where I could escape the ableism our family faces in so many other areas of our life. I ask you to be more aware of the marginalization of people with disabilities, and in particular people with intellectual disabilities.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      trish, thank you so much for your comment. i really appreciate your taking the time to write. i hear you, and as a mother of a special needs child, i agree with you that these words absolutely cannot be part of the everyday vernacular and there needs to be more acceptance overall for all kinds of developmental, intellectual and learning differences.

      for zz packer’s book, i actually interpreted it differently — she was portraying young girls who were trying to figure out how the world works, and this was a huge learning experience for them — that it WASN’T okay to use those words, that it wasn’t okay to think of their fellow campers in an inferior way. the story was structured around their emotions around the perceived use of the “n word” (i don’t even want to write it out online) and then they themselves were using the “r word.” i believed it was a cultural commentary about learning to accept themselves and others — not in any way endorsing or accepting either of those words. i truly believe zz packer is aligned with our thinking here.

      i hope this helps, i’d love to hear what you think. your son sounds wonderful person, and he’s clearly very lucky to have a mother like you. thank you so much, joannaxoxo

    • Trish says...

      Thanks so much, Joanna, for your thoughtful response. Honestly, my emotional reaction to the short story led me to not finish it. Maybe if I had been able to regulate my emotions more fully I would have finished the story and arrived at the same conclusion that you did. Maybe 10 years from now my pain around this sort of thing won’t be so raw and I can stay present and engage more with stories such as this one. I’m just not in that space right now. I apologize if I jumped to conclusions too quickly in my post on your blog. Please know that I appreciate you sharing your perspective on the story, and it has helped remind me that I need to not rush to conclusions when I hear/read what may initially appear to be a negative comment about people with special needs but may represent a deeper commentary on how our society navigates difference.

  11. caroline says...

    Chocolate lactation cookies!!!

    They are yummy, and the perfect excuse for cookies! This is the present I give to all my new mummy friends… and the one present I was wishing someone would give me after I delivered!

    • Martha says...

      Bonus points if they are frozen dough balls – in a freezer bag with instructions for how long to bake. That way a new mother is always only 14 minutes away from freshly baked cookies!! And she can enjoy 2 or 3 tomorrow afternoon. And then 2 or 3 next Tuesday at midnight… and you get the idea. SO much better than having 2 dozen already-cooked cookies on your counter, IMO.

  12. Hanna says...

    Oh my goodness, I’m completely horrified at the idea of suggesting a new mother should watch Catastrophe!! The first season is so funny and real, but after that it’s all just real and TERRIFYING. It gave me flash backs to every difficult thing that happened in the first three years of my twins’ lives — and there were lots. Yikes.

  13. Miss Lam says...

    My favorite gift was a box of artisan truffles with two of each flavour so my husband and I could share them and each time we enjoyed one together it felt like a mini date! We’ve made it a tradition when we need a little reminder to enjoy each other and I love passing on the gift and idea to new parents!

  14. I make babywearing mama dolls that have been a big hit for new moms. And then the kiddos get to play with the dolls down the line!

  15. When we came home from the hospital after our first baby was born, our neighbors had gone to the grocery store and just filled our fridge with snacks, drinks, a cake, bread and deli meat, milk, bagels, and all kinds of wonderful fridge and pantry STAPLES. We had a dozen frozen lasagnas and casseroles for dinners from our amazing friends and family, but coming home to a stocked fridge that we could just grab a quick snack out of was the best thing ever. I still recall how nice it felt to know that they had thought to do it for us!

  16. Anne says...

    A few mornings after my husband and I had gotten home from the hospital with our daughter, a friend sent a text saying that she had left breakfast tacos and two piping hot lattes on our front porch. She knew that we had had a parade of visitors and just needed a minute to breathe. It was WONDERFUL!

  17. Annie says...

    We had just gotten the keys to our new place and planned to start moving the next day when my son arrived five weeks early. While he was in the NICU, my friends and family did all the move-out cleaning, packed up our entire lives, and moved us into the new apartment! It was definitely a bit disorienting to go home to somewhere new, but it was so touching to see how everyone had arranged our belongings with love and care. The cutest part was how my dad set up all of my shoes in neat little lines all over the closet floor!

    • The part about your dad arranging your shoes made me tear up! ❤️

  18. Ashley says...

    If you can, let the parents know that they can text you at anytime. When you are a new parent you’re up almost every two hours and the loneliest times for me were at night. At night you are struggling to breastfeed and you start to feel a little crazy(okay, totally crazy). I would text my family at anytime and it always made me feel better, even if they couldn’t respond until the morning.

    • Kate M says...

      Love this!

  19. Sarah says...

    If she’s the type who you *know* will need to send you a thank you card, include a self-addressed stamped envelope to make it really easy on her (it will also make her chuckle😂)

    And if mum or baby had a hard time during birth, go give blood in their honor.

    • Abby says...

      Brilliant idea! That would make me laugh so much!

    • A says...

      Love these suggestions. They’re perfect.

  20. Sarah says...

    Had a baby back in November and, like many commenters here, was so appreciative for food…. anything that was relatively healthy and could be eaten one-handed without any prep was a real winner (dried fruit and nut platter from Costco, I’m looking at you). I also so appreciated the friend that brought dinner and then held the baby so I could actually eat it.

    I would have also appreciated things after I came back to work– we got lots of attention when the baby was just born, but I went back to work full-time after three months and am dragging myself through the days. Going to keep this in mind for my new mom friends in the future!

  21. Maggie Marks says...

    My suggestion – don’t visit for at least 2 weeks, ideally 1 month! All the new visitors are so overwhelming and I found it hard to say no. Also, holding the baby isn’t reallt helpful for mama. Dropping off food, or simple groceries, without even knocking is so so helpful!

    • Katie says...

      oh my god this times 1000, I had neighbors and friends and relatives who came and only wanted to hold the baby not realizing I was hyper aware of whenever she cried and fussed and it wasn’t helpful! and I also couldn’t say no – I sometimes even had people show up without notice. just don’t come! I love you all but don’t come! I don’t want to have the house clean or be showered!

    • Katha says...

      Yes, I think that is important. Just leave the parents and the baby be for the first weeks. But here most people stick to that and even then it’s usually short visits.

      I felt that way with #1 – you don’t get to hold the baby unless you’re the dad or the midwife – I’m sorry. And please leave me alone, in bed.
      But I felt less so with #2 and with #3 I was like: I’m bored! Where is everyone? I want someone to come over and chat. Hello?!

    • V says...

      This! I’m not a parent but I’m a nanny who has been around a lot of new parents. My friend had the best idea when she recently had a baby: her friend planned a “meal train” where she organized to have each friend bring a meal every two days for a month. They put a cooler on the porch for the food so the family didn’t have to have visitors at that time. They had a note thanking the visitors and saying that if the window was open, a visitor was welcome to come in for a 15 minute visit and that on top of that, if any one had time to help out around the house it would be much appreciated. I think it is SO amazing for them to have set firm kind boundaries about their family’s needs for the first month while also being so appreciative of the meals and help the received from friends.

    • Hailey says...

      With my first, passing around the baby to be held felt like passing my kidney around the room…

      It is so tough! I was hormonal and after an emergency c-section, felt like I had missed some of that immediate bonding time with my babe. The protectiveness (and anxiety about germs) I felt in those early days was unreal!

      Of course, in time, I relaxed, and it was a different story with my second…But, it’s so good for others to be sensitive to this possibility in a new mama.

  22. The first few weeks of baby #3 when I was ALWAYS breast feeding…like ALL THE TIME NONE STOP, I read the entire Twilight Trilogy. I skipped over the cray cray birth part of one of the books and just enjoyed the drama and teen love story and magical powers. The story was so completely different from what I was experiencing myself that time (although breast feeding did feel a bit like a magical power), it was perfect. Anyway, I highly recommend that easy trilogy for a new mom. It was wonderful.

  23. A walk in the park with her and the baby. Do whatever you can to support her (holding, stroller pushing, feeding, chatting while nursing) while she gets a few fresh breaths in. This will remind her that the world is still out there, the same world she may miss dearly and yearn for when on the other side of birth. It can be hard, and this is just the kind of support many moms need. And it’s free!

    • Jackie says...

      YES! My husband would drive us to state parks when I was to sore to walk just so I could roll the windows down to take deep breaths and know the world was still here.

    • Mary says...

      Your comment made me tear up. This is a wonderful idea and so, so true.

  24. Kate says...

    Thanks for these suggestions! They are timely as I’m getting on a plane Thursday morning to be with my bestie and her new baby!

  25. Emma says...

    A friend whose kitchen was under renovation offered to set up a meal train for us, and that was a fantastic gift!

    Also, one of my neighbors dropped off flowers, a bucket of k cups, and a package of newborn diapers. It was so sweet and thoughtful (and the diapers I had were all size 1 and the reason pee was getting everywhere…).

    I also think just the gift of visiting and socializing was so nice for me. For me as thrilled as I was to have this new baby, it was also a little isolating. Even though my husband was there with me, he was also struggling with this massive transition, so when people would come over things felt a little more normal. (I’m getting choked up just thinking about this.)

    Really, I think ANY thoughtful token that your’e thinking of the new mom and growing family will be so appreciated.

  26. Jordan says...

    Take out the trash. Walk the dog. Wash any dishes in the sink. Don’t ask to hold the baby unless she offers. Listen to her.

  27. Kamisha Sullivan says...

    Love all of these ideas.
    I like to give a nice water bottle or lately Corkcicle. If I know the mother is breast feeding then including Mother’s Milk tea as well. SInce the Corkcicle will keep drinks hot and cold! And I include a handwritten note about motherhood. Always personal anecdotes and humor included. I remember being so dang thirsty with newborns and so it is a reminder to keep baby healthy, momma has to stay healthy and practice self-care.

    • Callie Kurtz says...

      This is such a wonderful, thoughtful idea. I am 6 months into breastfeeding my third, and somehow I had forgotten how incredibly thirsty I get while feeding. I spent the entire first month of her life researching the perfect water bottle to get me through these next 18 months. I love the idea of the anything that keeps it cold, but the real winner is a water bottle with a titled straw so you can drink it no matter what angle you are (I often had to feed laying down) and also SPILL FREE as there are enough liquids where babies are involved. The winner was Contigo in my book and it hasn’t left my side since the day it arrived!

    • stevie says...

      I third this! I ordered a huge cup with a straw from Amazon Prime on day 2 home from the hospital. SO THIRSTY. BKR makes pretty glass water bottles in lots of fun colors.

  28. Amanda says...

    Depending on how recent and how she’s feeling, holding the baby may or may not be what she wants you to do. With my first, I was incredibly uncomfortable and anemic after and the thing I could do was hold and feed her and I needed someone else to do everything else and finally had to say to my family, stop taking her away! Holding her is what I need.

    Do the dishes, fold laundry. Do stuff she might be embarassed to ask someone else to do but will be amazing to have had done.

  29. Holly says...

    Um, I can’t wait to see the second version of this post that is just readers suggestions!!

  30. joy says...

    For everybody who is talking about lactation cookies–please ask the mom before you bring those over! I feel like all the press is given to undersupply, and have many friends who struggled with it. However, as someone who had WAY TOO MUCH MILK, pretty much from the day I got home from the hospital, the last thing I wanted was anything that had the remotest chance of further increasing milk production.

    • Sarah says...

      Word. Before my son was born I bought a box of Mother’s Milk tea. Now I’m terrified to drink it! These milk geysers need no help! My poor, sputtering baby boy unmatched and screams during letdown, and I can’t imagine eating or drinking anything to boost my milk supply!

    • Court says...

      Also, on the flip side, I couldn’t make ANY milk and the lactation cookies just made me sad, haha. I was like, “These damn things don’t work!”

      An Audible subscription would be nice. Since becoming a mother, audio books have been my new best friend.

      I also second the ideas of frozen cookie dough, dropping off food and groceries WITHOUT coming to visit, and wine!

  31. Alex H. says...

    These are such great tips. And, I LOVE talking about finance strategy, it is so empowering to feel confident and in control. It’s funny because one of the easiest topics for my husband and I to talk about is our financing, I feel so fortunate that we are aligned in our goals and priorities – looking at your retirement. ;)

    I would also like to recommend the following book: The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated. The Index Card helped us not only focus on immediate financial planning like debt elimination and savings strategies but also smart tips for how to structure your retirement investments, etc. IT. IS. A. GAME. CHANGER.

    Once last tip that we use. My husband and I divide our finances as followings: a certain percentage of our income goes into our joint checking account. These funds cover mortgage, car payments, groceries, gas, bills, savings, and other reoccurring costs that effects both of our lives. So for us, we put 80% in our joint accounts, which leaves 20% for personal stuff. For me, it’s dinning out with friends, clothes/beauty, yoga membership, etc. It works great for us!

  32. Chivonne says...

    After an emergency C-section, and my baby born at 36 weeks (going straight to NICU without me even able to hold her) I was ill prepared for motherhood and completely bewildered about what happened… All my friends and family was waved away at the door or discouraged from visiting me (my choice) One of my friends decided not to take no for an answer (she’s not usually pushy) and came to the hospital with instant cappuccino sachets, chocolate brownies and a bottle of oil which she used to give me a foot massage. I promptly burst into tears, went over the entire birth with her holding me and sobbed it out. I didn’t realize how much I needed a fellow mom/friend who understood and could share in my elation at having a beautiful little baby girl, but also the pain and disappointment of the birth experience and finally knowing that a starving heartsore new mom sometimes just need to stuff her blotchy face with chocolate brownies and heavenly coffee.

    • Tori says...

      What a dear friend, thanks for sharing your sweet story.

  33. Rebecca says...

    My go to has been a NappieSack!

  34. How about a Mama bracelet? A beautiful reminder of who she now is and always will be, someone’s Mama. Can also be used as a reminder for which side she last fed her baby on!
    http://Every-Mama.com

  35. Jamie says...

    The best gift is to plan NOT to hold the baby. New moms (and dads!) want to cuddle that newborn and all the hormones can make sharing difficult. No new parent is dying for a friend to come over and hold the baby so they can tackle the dishes ;) Instead, plan to clean the house, make food, keep beverages filled, grocery shop, etc. Be ready to flex housekeeping and errand muscles and your friend will be eternally grateful.

    • Jill M. T. says...

      This was EXACTLY my experience.

    • Jules says...

      On the contrary, I ADORED seeing my family and friends holding my days-old (even hours-old) daughter. There’s something so so special to me about seeing their bond begin so early on. Sure, I wasn’t doing any dishes, but I was sitting back feeling flooded with love at seeing the people I loved most holding my newest love.

    • Kathy says...

      Not my experience at all. I was more than willing to share both my newborns so, that I could nap. I was so exhausted and the thing I wanted most was sleep!

  36. Shruti says...

    One of my favorite gifts was a gift certificate for a Zeel in home massage! All the benefits of a fantastic massage AND I didn’t even have to leave the house.

  37. Jen says...

    After my each of my children were born, my gram brought me a long, hooded Barefoot Dreams cardigan with a pair of matching socks. They are so soft and cozy for me and my babies. I basically lived in them all through nursing and deeply appreciated the extra comfort. Now, it’s my go-to gift for any new mom.

    • Amy says...

      I wore their drape-front cardis nonstop after my last was born. Sooo soft, and the draped front doubled as both a blanket and nursing cover for the babe. Great gift!

  38. Caitlin Lee says...

    Gift certificate to a cleaning company. Pick a company, and have that as your baby shower registry. Almost everyone hates cleaning.

  39. Meg says...

    I am currently going WAAAAY overboard with gifts for my sister! She’s due in June. Along with things on the registry, I’m also planning on making a full 30 days of breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for her and her husband. My assumption is that most family and friends will bring dinner-type foods, but quick, handheld, nutritious breakfast and lunch foods might not be covered. Frozen things packaged in individual servings that only require quick microwave or toaster oven! I’m thinking breakfast: smoothie kits & breakfast burritos; lunch: empanadas, arancini (cheesey rice balls), mac and cheese (comfort foods), savory hand pies; snacks: cookie dough to bake, biscuit dough, falafel, and popsicles – summer in SC is HOT!
    (My Mom lives close to her, so everything doesn’t have to be stored in her fridge – I know there’s limited space there!)

    Question for ladies who are Moms – I’ve gotten a little too deep on the internet about what is and is not appropriate for nursing Moms and it looks like onion and garlic is pretty universally problematic. But some lists include just about every type of food. Any other obvious food restrictions to consider?
    – Or any other ideas of amazing recipes to include?

    THANK YOU!

    • Caitlin Lee says...

      Just ask what the mom likes! What is and isn’t appropriate for each nursing mom depends, so just ask her.

    • Anna says...

      Will you be my sister? That is so amazing!

    • Melissa says...

      wow sister of the year! i think broccolli, beans and typical gassy foods can sometimes make the baby gassy too. but all babies are different and moms sometimes need to eliminate dairy. i’ve nursed two babies and breakfast was usually a handful of nuts or granola bar type of thing. having nutritious snacky foods around is great. also random- but malt balls increase your breast milk!

    • Meg says...

      @Anna – YES! Everyone is invited to the family!

      @Caitlin Lee – Thanks so much for the assurance. That’s what I figured and have a bit of time between the shower (present reveal) and when she’s due (present delivery) to solidify a menu. :)

      @Melissa – Great tip about the Malt Balls! I’ve never heard of that – and will add it to the menu!

    • Emma says...

      You are so sweet! As someone who had a baby a year ago (next week! sniffle!), these are all fantastic ideas. One thing to keep in mind is that even though people place a lot of emphasis on foods to avoid when breastfeeding, current research says that, statistically, a very low percentage of babies are negatively impacted by what their mama eats. I’d focus most on things your sister and her family enjoy and would want to have around!

    • Melanie says...

      Wow! I wish you were my sister when my two kiddos were born!

    • Tori says...

      This is so kind of you. I didn’t have issues with the foods I ate affecting my baby (in terms of upset stomach, gas etc.) but what I would add was that healthy, nourishing (but hearty!) foods were the most appealing. One friend brought a tray of brown rice withe steamed broccoli and carrots and roasted chicken–which sounds so virtuous but it was the PERFECT meal, basically all I wanted to eat. Maybe sandwich fixings if she likes that, and easy to grab fruit and veggies.
      Another thing to consider are snack type meals rather than large portions because often there isn’t time to sit and eat a normal meal and you are hungry more frequently.
      What a sweet sister to plan so thoroughly.

    • Amy says...

      I’ve nursed four babes, and my only aversion was dairy for one who had a sensitivity – other flavors didn’t seem to matter at all. I WOULD watch things that might make your sister too gassy or bloated, and consider fiber-rich ingredients. Pregnancy and labor really mess with digestion, and constipation is usually an issue (and one she may not want to mention!)

    • I loved reading these! I got casseroles galore but other meals are a great idea. Seasonal things are fun (June you say? popsicles! ice cream sandwiches!) My first trip out of the house was for snacky things and fresh things since I got so many meals. I bought all the yogurts, fruits, salad mixes I could find. I was very thirsty and getting tired of hot/cheesy/creamy meals. I hate the waste of individual packaging but they were handy to have mini guac/hummus/etc at that time.

  40. Anna Patil says...

    My most treasured new-parent gift was from a mom friend who brought me a care package that included:
    – Tucks
    – A good-smelling natural version of that Dermaplast spray they give you in the hospital (it’s called New Mama Bottom Spray)
    – Nursing pads
    – Nipple cream
    – Her manual breast pump for me to borrow in case of middle-of-the-night emergencies
    – Stool softener

    Basically, all the “gross stuff” that you ACTUALLY need but no one wants to gift you because it seems too gross. I loved it and have borrowed the idea many times to pay it forward to new mom friends! (A neighbor brought me a little gift bag with raspberry tea and Larabars, which were lifesavers when I woke up at 4am with the breastfeeding munchies.)

    I also had a mom friend come over a few weeks before the birth to help me make a bunch of padsicles, for which I will be forever grateful.

    • Amanda says...

      Love this! Add to it some big underwear she won’t care if they end up trashed and a variety of those super duper pads that she hoped never to see again in her life but may now be dependent on!

    • Melanie says...

      That’s an amazing idea!!!

    • Tori says...

      I’ve heard some moms use straight up Depends instead of pads in those early heavy bleed days? Apparently they have a better fit and don’t shift as much. Debating if I will take the plunge when I have my newborn this summer.

    • Amy says...

      Tori, use the Depends. It’s hard to make yourself buy them, but do it – a sample pack may be plenty, you’ll only need a few days’ worth. They work SOOOOOO much better. I waited until my last was born, being too embarrassed before then, and could have kicked myself for not trying it earlier!

    • Rebekah says...

      Yesssss buy the Depends. Everyone should do this!!!! So much easier and honestly, comfort beats dignity right after giving birth ;)

    • Tori says...

      Ha!

      Thank you Amy and Rebekah. You’ve convinced me!

  41. EllaY says...

    Take whoever is visiting out of the house for a little while! Give the new parents an hour alone with their baby. Come back with chocolate covered strawberries.

    • Anna J says...

      I second this. As wonderful as it is to share those first days with parents and family, we were going nuts after a few weeks and just needed some private time. my husband and I made up a list of “to do’s” to get my mother out of the house for a few hours.

  42. Kristin Empey says...

    I love to fill a bag of Trader Joe’s finest (snacks!!) and drop it off at the new parents house. Love to put my favorite snacks, new ones from the new section and seasonal themes. My friend had a baby in October so I put all pumpkin themed snacks! Magazines are also a good add.

  43. Molly says...

    Fruit and veggies! People are really kind when you have a baby and bring delicious meals, but they tend to be casserole-esque. We ended up eating so many heavy dishes and/or take-out (gleefully, because postpartum hunger is not picky). But, an awesome gift is cut up fruit and/or veggies for snacking during the day. Also, if you’re a baker, a giant freezer bag of portioned cookie dough is great. I made some for myself before my son was born, and would stick 2 or 3 (ok, 4 or 5) in the oven every few nights. Fresh-baked cookies on the regular with very little work – the best!

    Another really kind gift is leaving :) I loved having visitors, but was so exhausted in those early days that I could barely keep up with conversation. I was especially grateful for visitors who did not overstay their welcome.

    Finally…my mother-in-law gave me a beautiful leather tote bag. It ended up being perfect for carrying all of my pumping supplies back and forth to work, and it felt really nice to go back to the office with something new and pretty and a little luxurious that was just for me (and was not a diaper bag). If you can spring for it, it’s a great gift for a mom planning to go back to work outside of the home.

  44. Sarah says...

    Give her time to share her birth story in her own way. Listen. Don’t compare your story to hers. Don’t give her platitudes and silver linings. Just be there with her. Help her process the magnitude of what just happened.

    • Natalie says...

      YES.

    • Sarah says...

      I love this!

    • Erica says...

      Nailed it.

    • Ana says...

      Yes!!! I think this is the most important gift a friend or family member can give because birth and the 4th trimester often don’t go as expected. Having someone you love listen as you process can be so healing in those emotional first weeks.

  45. Kelly says...

    One thing I like to do for the new Moms in my life is have their favorite pizza delivered to their house. It seems to be greatly appreciated so far.

    • Melanie says...

      😃

  46. Frozen breakfast sandwiches! They are so perfect when it’s 3 am, and you are tired and really hungry from middle-of-the-night breastfeeding.

    • ck says...

      frozen breakfast sandwiches sound like such a good idea. what does that entail???

    • Emma says...

      YUP. When you are just coming out of a long night of not sleeping, it’s hard to make breakfast. I made a ton of breakfast burritos and froze them while I was preggers and was SO GLAD I did. As someone else mentioned, people will bring food, but it will be more like dinner/lunch food, so breakfast stuff is a great idea.

  47. Heidi says...

    We had a preemie in the NICU for ten weeks… she was born at 26 weeks gestation. We did a lot of back and forth from the hospital so we were gone a lot. Our neighbor would have her lawn service do our lawn when they came to do hers. It was so nice for those few weeks to know there was one less household thing to have to worry about.

    • Luna says...

      Yes to this! I was constantly worried going back & forth to NICU how I would deal with the household while desperately trying to pump breast milk for the IV feeds.

      My sister would go over to do her load of washing, pick-up our mail, air out the house, sweep our yard, have a hot cuppa on the patio, heat up a dinner, turn off/on lights (for our late night returns). These were such a great comfort.

  48. Jamie says...

    I love the stinky cheese idea, luxurious beauty items (hello Aesop samples) and love letter!! The BEST gift I got was a gift pack from Russ & Daughters which included coffee, bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon and chocolate babka. I savored it!! Best of all–it can be shipped cross country.

  49. So many comments and lovely ideas for those who are really close. I had a coworker on her first mat leave and one day I was in her hood making a home visit to a client. I stopped by a deli, bought two sandwiches and drinks, and texted her that I would drop by in 5 minutes and could stay for a few minutes or go. When she opened the door, she burst into tears. The spontaneous lunch and a half hour of work gossip was the best thing that had happened to her all week.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, cynthia, that makes me tear up! what a lovely spontaneous gesture.

    • gg says...

      Work gossip was a DREAM when I was on leave. It reminded me of my old life and distracted me from the stressors of this new one.

    • Melanie says...

      That was such a fun/great/thoughtful thing to do.

  50. LC says...

    Under eye concealer and dry shampoo! These things make it look like you have slept/showered when you don’t have time to do it. Also, frozen food was awesome because I could cook it when I returned to work and people had stopped providing food.

  51. sarah says...

    Don’t just hold the baby. While you are over there, go into her laundry room and fold, wash whatever is there, give the bathroom a little scrub, or load or unload the dishwasher. Or don’t just bring dinner, also bring snacks that are relatively healthy and easy to eat one handed for during the day.

  52. Meghan says...

    DOG WALKING – by you or a pro dog walker. A dear friend came over once a week to give our dogs a mid-day walk. It was impossible to get the dogs their required amount of exercise and she took so much guilt away with those walks.

    • Kathy says...

      We got our sister-in-law a gift certificate with our dog walker. She loved it and so did the pooch.

  53. Talia says...

    When my daughter gave me the best gift ever – my granddaughter, every time I visited (they lived out of town), I stocked her freezer. I took frozen soups, homemade spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf, meatballs, cookie dough, sloppy joe’s, casseroles, etc…I would also take homemade granola and snacks so she didn’t have to worry about cooking. I would also give them gift cards for restaurants, so they could pick up dinner when in a pinch. To this day, she tells me how grateful she was to not have to cook.

  54. Sophia F. says...

    Best gift I got was from my cousin, who had had a baby six months before – a very large ‘party pack’ of disposable/compostable plates/cups/cutlery arrived in the mail from Costco. What a weird sounding gift, but oh. my. god. Having dishes I didn’t have to feel guilty about not washing was fantastic.

    • Sarah says...

      We loved the Costco platter of dried fruit and nuts that came in the mail! Could be eaten one handed and was appropriate for any time of the day. Who knew Costco was the patron saint of maternity leave!?

  55. gg says...

    Smoked salmon! I craved smoked salmon for 37 weeks and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a lox bagel.

    I also really appreciated chocolates and wine- things just for me!

  56. Teddy says...

    Not completely related but I was hoping you lovely, thoughtful ladies could give me some ideas for gifts for my best friend and her family. Her older brother was recently diagnosed with brain cancer and started treatment yesterday. I know what to get my friend but was hoping you have some ideas for what to get her brother to make treatment more comfortable. And maybe something for the whole family, since they’re spending lots of time together. Any recommendations are so appreciated. xx

    • Lis says...

      Teddy, to your best friend, her brother and family-I’m so sorry. And it completely, totally, 1000% sucks (my father went through cancer recently).

      -a nice blanket or a robe, warm, cozy
      -anything that brings a laugh (doesn’t matter if it’s a silly middle school movie)
      -spending lots of time together is great, perhaps a deck of cards or something to provide momentary mental break minutes.
      -food for the family, for when they are on auto-pilot and perhaps haven’t had a nutrient

      Most special for me, my family and Dad at this time was just being there. As I said above, cancer sucks. And many people-myself included before it happened to someone I love so deeply-find it easier to tiptoe around that. Well-wishes sometimes feel like daggers (you’ll get through it, it’s God’s plan, etc. all very much grated on me). So even if you don’t know what to say, your love and support will ultimately mean the most.

    • to echo the above, being present, and being able to offer spaciousness in the moment. there is nothing you can bring that will “fix” this, but your love and loyalty can help.
      -totally agree with cozy robe, slippers and socks, maybe an outrageously comfortable sweatshirt he can wear to treatment, or a lovely beanie if he loses his hair.
      -an offer to drive anyone where they need to go if that’s an option for you- some cancer treatments also come with an incredibly high appointment burden.
      -depending on the family, a cleaning/laundry offer, either yours or professional. some people find cleaning therapeutic, others are burdened by it. offering to take it off their hands could be super helpful.

    • Amy says...

      If you go the sweatshirt/robe/beanie route, check out Barefoot Dreams. They have a line of incredibly soft clothes and hats universally loved by members of our family – my (bald) husband has a hoodie and several hats, and wants more hoodies, socks and lounge pants. So sorry for what they’re all going through.

    • Kelly says...

      So they make these things called queasy drops, which are cough drops that help with nausea. https://www.amazon.com/Three-Lollies-Queasy-Assorted-Nausea/dp/B009FEO8DC I know they make some for pregnant ladies too. That could help with some of the side effects. Biotene or a similar mouthwash could be nice for the dry mouth too, in little travel bottles for if you get sick while you’re out. Some nice manly lip balm, like Jack Black, might be good for the dry skin, and some hand lotion. I also really like the stuff at Bonobos, you could get him a card for there in case his size changes. I’d also suggest a really good audiobook, like The Name of The Wind. It can make things go a little faster. Good luck!

    • Teddy says...

      Thank you all so much! Those are great suggestions. These situations are so hard to navigate and I just want to make my friend and her family feel as loved as possible. Lis- wishing good health for your dad, they’re irreplaceable <3

  57. Megan says...

    My favorite gift was a care package from my sister-in-law. It was full of Trader Joes snacks and a nice new tube of mascara. I did so much more snacking than actual meal eating in those first few weeks and there was something about swiping on some nice mascara that made me feel pulled together even when I was living in yoga pants and nursing tanks.

    • yes on the snacking! my mom always brought fresh fruit over the first couple weeks when my kids were newborns. I remember eating an entire bowl of blueberries while nursing my son, windows open, summer time outside. I still find myself thinking of this moment. A milk breathed baby and sweet blueberries.

  58. People are well-meaning when they ask what you’d like to eat when they come to visit, but I was so tired from everything and tired of making decisions. (Plus, making any requests felt like asking a favor, which I hate doing.) My favorite visit was when a friend told me she’d be coming by for lunch one day and said she’d bring food. She showed up with three different sandwiches/wraps from Whole Foods, different kinds of chips and cookies and sparkling waters and a side of berries, and it all looked so delicious and easy for me, and I was so grateful.

    • Kirsten says...

      Yes to this! I actually hated when my friends would ask me what they could bring. It stressed me out and I was just too tired to think about/irrationally felt like I was putting them out. If people had just showed up with food options without asking it would have been so much better!

    • Naomi says...

      Yes!!!!
      The day we came home from the hospital my husband and mother-in-law kept asking me what I wanted to eat for lunch. I was like, make me anything! I cannot make this decision!

    • Oh man, yes. I hate making decisions on a good day and that was about the worst time for me to make decisions. Food was always appreciated–my parents picked up dinner every night for us for the first two weeks of my daughter’s life, without asking what we wanted. They showed up with veggies, a main, and a fun dessert, and that was just perfect. And I was SO HUNGRY at weird times, so having a stash of granola bars and fun crackers to munch on at 2 am during breastfeeding sessions was key.

    • joy says...

      YES TO THIS. My parents stayed with us for the first week after the baby was born, and one of the best things they did was just take care of the housework, grocery shopping, and meals. I told them I didn’t care what they made, and it was true. Whatever they made, I ate. It was so amazing to not have to think about groceries, dishes, or laundry.

    • Katy says...

      Yes – my mother in law stayed with us a couple of times in the first months and she was amazing about doing housework etc. Which was a lifesaver, but she would always ask me what I wanted for dinner / lunch etc. I didn’t care!! The best friend dates were when someone just showed up with food.

  59. Beth says...

    This gives me baby fever !

  60. Ruth says...

    For me the nicest gift was a bouquet of my favorite flowers and a pair of stretchy, soft, button up pajamas in a size bigger than I normally wore. But also food! We had a really hard time eating those first few weeks and were surprised that we really did NOT receive a lot of food from family and friends and it was a big struggle. Take out options got tiring and were not the healthiest. When I visit a friend who just had a baby I like to bring a big selection of items from somewhere like Whole Foods including pre-cut fruit and prepared salads with the goal of stocking their fridge with things that are as easy to eat as possible (out of the container, no heating required, good for snacking etc.)!

  61. Leigh says...

    I delivered my son (now 2) two weeks early, so we weren’t quite prepared… Our amazing friends (already parents) brought over yogurt, cut up fresh fruit, and (no joke) Colace for me as a “just in case” present and a six-pack of beer for my husband the day we came home from the hospital. Later on, one sweet friend (not a mom) brought a four-pack of individual sized canned sparkling wine to remind me of our happy hour-ing days. So perfect, because opening a bottle seemed ridiculous when all I was comfortable drinking was a few sips. The worst of my post-partum symptoms arose when I was transition back to work, so truly the best gift I received was the continued support- 4-5-6 months in as I navigated that change. Couldn’t have done it without the “urban tribe.”

    • Colace is the perfect gift. haha!