1. C.E. says...

    I have three kids (ages 10, 7, and 8 months). By far the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me was bring me a ready-to-eat meal for our family. After the last baby was born, a friend brought a meal AND took our dog for a walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes. It was wonderful. Also, when you offer to help, be specific: suggest a few dates and offer ways you can help rather than saying “let me know if I can help.”

  2. Court says...

    I have a two week old and a two year old and I would love someone to fold my laundry and do my dishes. I want to sit and hold my baby but doing those things are helpful!

  3. Kathleen says...

    Grubhub gift cards. (Mother of a 3-month old.)

  4. Maggie says...

    I read somewhere (here?) that the best gifts for new parents are toilet paper and hand soap – something every guest uses and they may run out of. Now I always bring a few of each!

  5. Cynthia says...

    When my first child was born and probably about a month old, my aunt and uncle showed up with a big brown paper grocery bag full of butterbeans from their garden that had to be shelled! They never had children and had no idea of what life was like with a new baby. Had I been a member of their church, they would have showed up with a casserole, homemade rolls, and dessert. They thought their way to believe was the only way, and since my husband and I went to a different church, we didn’t count. Eventually, the butterbeans were shelled.

  6. Robin says...

    Also, for family/close friends, offer to take the baby for a stroller/carrier walk so baby can nap and they can get a real break. Don’t go far – just endless circles around the nearby blocks – but most babies will sleep with motion and that way you can give them a half hour to shower/breathe/eat something that requires both hands.

  7. Amy says...

    My sister just had her first baby last night, and we’re visiting her in 2 weeks (she lives an 8-hour trip away – don’t worry, we’re not staying with her haha!). I’m bringing homemade frozen meals: 2 kinds of burritos to pop in the microwave as needed, a batch of hearty muffins, and chicken fried rice fixings so she can throw everything in a hot pan and have a fresh dinner with almost no work. Plus some dry shampoo and tinted lip balm to help her feel good even when she can’t grab that much-needed shower and some local coffee to keep them going.

    I agree with those who say bring fresh, *prepped* fruit! I craved it for a good week or two after my deliveries. Doesn’t have to be fancy – just cut up that melon, or wash those grapes and cut the stems into small clusters – whatever is juicy, fresh, and easy to grab!

  8. Eva says...

    My first baby is due Monday! Ahhhhhh! (I mean, we’ll see if it’s punctual or fashionably late.) I’m grateful to have a friend who’s setting up a meal train for us. (And my mom, who’ll be showing up in the first few days :))

    One thing I’ve been mildly stressing about is how to navigate the health/safety concerns with low vaccination rates in my area (I live in Portland, OR—across the river from the recent huge measles outbreak). How do I gently tell friends/acquaintances to respect my wishes that if they or their children aren’t vaccinated, that I’d like to delay their meeting my child? I know I shouldn’t care, but it feels … awkward? Esp. since you never know someone’s stance on things …

    • kim says...

      You just tell them! If you respect their right not to vaccinate (and you are way more empathetic here than I am) then they can respect to not have their unvaccinated child next to your newborn. What is the possible risk and alternative of not telling them? Doesn’t bear thinking about. Herd immunity. It’s there for a reason. Good luck with your impending birth!

    • Kerry says...

      So exciting! Good luck :-) My baby is three months old and it’s been the best three months ever. Way more joyful and fun than I expected.

      About the vaccination thing: try not to worry about awkwardness or telling gently. Just be straightforward and confident. “With the measles outbreak in the area I have to confirm that you and your kids are up to date on your vaccinations before any visits.” Then see what they reply. You’re asking people to respect a bare minimum of common sense, extensive scientific evidence, and collective responsibility. Your little one can’t be vaccinated right away and depends on others to hold up their end of the deal. If you feel yourself wavering google photos of babies with measles or any other illness that vaccines save us from. Ugh or maybe don’t… it’s pretty upsetting.

      Sending lots of love for a smooth delivery and wonderful time getting to know your newbie. (I have a PhD in Public Health so this vaccination issue is something I’m quite passionate about.)

    • G says...

      Awkward?! Wait until you are holding that baby in your arms in a few days, mama bear – and THEN ask yourself if you still think it would be awkward.

      Congratulations!

    • Eliza says...

      Text the people you’re close with to let them know you’re taking extra precautions and put a note up on the door that says “We have a new baby! If you’re not immunized, respectfully please save your visit for another time. LOVE YOU!” Ask your friends and family to be your advocates also – having a baby is a sensitive time and sometimes its hard to vocalize even things you feel strongly about; Husband/mum/dad/friends can pass the word around: “Oh you’re going to visit Eva and her new baby? Make sure you have up-to-date vaccinations…and wash your hands!”

    • Eva, I think I may know you through a mutual friend Patricia. If so, hi! and either way congratulations. This is a slightly different situation because it was dealing with adults and not children, but when my sister gave birth for the first time a few years ago she told us that we needed to have the flu vaccine and be current for Tdap (whooping cough) before we visited. It wasn’t a question or a comment, and I happily made an appointment to get my vaccines so that I could get in some snuggles. People have the right to their beliefs, but not to access to your new little one. Sending you good thoughts for a safe and loving delivery and a healthy baby!

    • Eva says...

      Thank you all SO MUCH for the advice and well-wishing! Appreciate the suggestions for how to say/write it too.
      G—you’re totally right I’ll prob go full mama bear anyway and not be so shy about it 😂
      Rebecca—yep it’s me! Hope you’re well!!

      So grateful for this community :)

    • Sasha L says...

      Also, regardless of vaccination status, request that visitors are completely well, wash their hands as soon as they walk in and just in general don’t pass your baby around needlessly. Even though I love babies, an a doula and Mom, I’m super happy to just bring food to the door, text that it’s there and disappear. Or come in, clean, good laundry, tell Mom she looks wonderful and that her baby is beautiful and that she’s doing great! And not hold the baby. Sometimes mom really just wants to hold her baby herself.
      (Side note, don’t assume that being vaccinated means you won’t catch xyz, I had pertussis for three months and an adult, fully vaccinated and no one caught it, despite my relentless cough. Very often *outbreaks* include the fully vaccinated as well as unvaccinated, because vaccines aren’t perfect but they’re all we’ve got).

  9. Beth says...

    If you know her well enough to know what she’d like, some fancy / favorite shower products a favorite thing of mine to give. As many comments have said, a nice hot shower is a treat when you haven’t slept and you’re healing and bleeding and leaking and crying all day (surely im not the only one) – some extra special soap and a shampoo really makes the best of that 10-minute break!

  10. Aurora says...

    I just had my first baby and one of the best gifts I received was homemade smoothies in mason jars. So handy to have something delicious to drink with one hand, especially during the night feeds when I am ravenous!

    • Robin says...

      Great idea! My sister made me little juice and fruit vegetarian (agar) jellos, which we’re perfect but a smoothie wouldn’t even need a spoon!

  11. Ella says...

    I really recommend reading The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson. It will help you plan your postpartum if you’re expecting and it’ll help you be a significantly better support if you’re a family member or friend.

    Warm food with high nutrients and good fats (no dairy!) are actually best postpartum because they’re easiest to digest vs raw veggies that ask your digestive system to work harder. A lot of people get dinner sent but I felt lunch was harder. I wasn’t going to really cook for myself and I didn’t have energy for it. Now I make two big hearty soups and some homemade rolls for new moms. I send the soup portioned in little containers and the rolls wrapped individually so she can pop everything in the freezer. Whenever she needs a meal she can reheat a soup and some fresh bread, easy as anything!

  12. t says...

    The best thing my friends gave me was one night of a night nurse once my twins came home from the NICU. OMG it was amazing to get a full 8 hours of sleep.

    • Mona says...

      This is my dream..! Mine is three weeks old.

  13. Aimee says...

    Kombucha is supposed to be bad for nursing moms because it makes you detox, and toxins can come out in breastmilk. It just came out as some new study. That said, I drank it everyday I nursed and we’re fine.

  14. Jackie says...

    I’m 4 months along and TERRIFIED for the first weeks at home. Wishing I could send this list to my friends and family without being rude haha. Adorable, love these illustrations.

    • Ella says...

      Don’t be terrified! It’s gonna be ok! I would highly recommend reading The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson for a highly reassuring, practical, and meaningful guide on the first weeks as a mom. You’re gonna do great!

    • Angela says...

      You got this, momma! As Mr. Rogers said, ‘look for the helpers’. Find your closest family member/friend and use them to share this list! People want to help and my sister was a blessing by telling people what to do/not to do/when to visit/not visit so that it wasn’t me being pushy – it was her being protective. You got this!

    • Mona says...

      I feel you! I’m just through the first two weeks home. What’s worked well for us is having a freezer full of home made food ready for heating up, and my mom in the guest room!

      I’ve been tackling these first weeks of raw emotion the same way I tackled birth – one contraction at a time, remembering there is a finite number of contractions and each one is one less left until the goal is reached.

      Also, having a water bottle I can work with one hand next to me whenever I’m nursing because one gets so thirsty.

      You got this!

    • Tori says...

      Don’t worry! One step at a time! All those mama hormones help fill in the gaps (in the best way). I love the newborn days, they’re so so sweet and for better or for worse, time keeps chugging on past so they’ll be over before you realize. A big congratulations and well wishes.

  15. Karin says...

    The food I found most helpful was what could be eaten with one hand. Salads and baked fish and soups were lovely (and delicious), but I couldn’t eat them while holding/feeding the baby – which is what I was doing 90% of my waking hours when she was first born. My favorites were: cut up fresh fruits and veggies, breakfast burritos (good for any time of day), muffins, peeled hard-boiled eggs, cookies/brownies (for when the sweet craving hits), casseroles that weren’t too saucy and wouldn’t drip on the baby. Though let’s be honest, she got a fair bit of food dripped on her anyway.

    And I second the ‘drop it off and leave’ comments, it’s so hard to entertain when you’re healing and sleep deprived…

    • Kerry says...

      Yes! I had friends/acquaintances ‘drop by’ for three hour unplanned visits. I would be kind of happy but surprised when they arrived and never had good snacks or anything to offer but they’d just eat what was around and stay and stay and stay. It’s like “come on, read the room people” lol

  16. Nicole says...

    Ohmygod YES!! Especially to salad (though I preferred the fruit variety) and wine and kombucha. After both of my babies, I treated myself to big bowls of precut fruit from wegmans and it was the best! My other favorite was an egg bake or quiche.

    And, clothes with zippers! Why do they even make baby pjs with snaps?

    • Kerry says...

      Amen on the zippers!!!

    • Alison says...

      Almost new mom here (28 weeks) with a really silly question. I didn’t know that you could drink wine while breastfeeding. I went cold turkey during pregnancy because the doctors have said that the data are inconclusive, and that there’s no ethical way to test for the limit.

  17. Layla says...

    As a new mom myself I’d say the best thing you can bring is compassion. Most new moms just need someone to vent/cry to and for someone to tell them everything will be ok. If you can offer to watch the baby while she closes her eyes for a bit or even just takes a shower, that’s great! But what she really needs is a hug and some empathy! And of course cookies never hurt either!

    • maria says...

      love this layla. yes agree.

  18. Sophia F. says...

    We had moved to a new city not long before having our first daughter, so no in-person visits or gifts, but I will be forever grateful to my cousin and her husband who sent us a compostable party-pack of plates, utensils, and cups from Costco. Seems like an odd thing, but man was it nice to not have to think about dishes (or feel guilty for using plastic/styrofoam) for the first crazy weeks.

  19. Meredith says...

    There are so many babies being born in my friend group right now (yeeee!), and we have been making the most of Meal Train to schedule goodies for all of the new parents. That way you can see what other folks are bringing and not repeat dishes they will already have leftovers of, as well as claim dates you know they’ll be available for a drop off and not overlap with other friends. https://www.mealtrain.com/ Would highly recommend this little organizational tool!

  20. Sasha L says...

    This post brought tears for me. I was in a weird place when I birthed my first baby. She was a month early and I had been forced to quit my job and go on bed rest months before. It was stressful and lonely and we couldn’t afford it. I had just graduated college the spring before and all of my girlfriends moved far away. My mom came when the baby was born, but we had to stay several extra days at the hospital and my mom left the day we went home. I came home from a traumatic pregnancy and birth, to a messy apartment (my water broke and we just left, no early labor putter cleaning), an empty refrigerator, and no money either (losing my job, +extra medical bills depleted all the money we’d saved). I remember literally standing in the kitchen, holding a baby and realizing we’d be eating cereal for dinner. I remember feeling tired, overwhelmed, afraid. Thank goodness my husband was kind and reassuring, hugging us both and saying we’d be ok. What I wouldn’t have given for a casserole at the door. We didn’t get a single thing.

    A few years later, surrounded by new mom friends, and living in a warm neighborhood, we were showered with food and help and kindness when my second baby was born. I was so grateful, still am 20 years later. Wanting to help make sure all mothers feel cared for brought me to doula work. We all deserve to feel surrounded with love.

    • agnes says...

      You sound like a wonderful doula Sasha! sending a hug!

    • Rae says...

      What a moving comment Sasha, and what wonderful work you do.

  21. Emiie says...

    My son was in the NICU for a week after he was born, so my husband and I spent all our time at the hospital with him. One friend who lived nearby offered to pick up bahn mi from our favorite place and drop it in the hospital lobby for us. I had to force myself to accept her kindness because I’m always so worried about putting people out! Our friend offered to just hand the food to us and leave but we asked her to stay while we ate. That lobby moment was probably the only same 15 minutes from that week. Just talking about normal things for a moment and sitting down for a meal felt amazing.

  22. Angela Robertson says...

    Meals were lifesavers for us the first month or so. But some of my favorite gifts included friends that stopped by just to stock my fridge, do my laundry, or hold the baby. I had a friend swing by once just to put fresh fruits, vegetables and drinks in the fridge. Another came by a few times just to hold Cal while I laid on the couch and we chatted. Another lugged my laundry basket up and down stairs to load and fold laundry while I just sat on the couch and slept/ate/nursed.

    Things my brain was not thinking about the first few weeks at home: cleaning, groceries, cooking. And try as my husband did, he didn’t get paternity leave and was up just as much as I was at night so it was a huge relief on him too!

  23. Ana says...

    The two most amazing things we got were:
    Cooked meals from friends and an big edible arrangement filled with fresh fruits. I was so easy for us to snack on and felt fresh and healthy and also did not require any preparation or utensils.
    Second to that was volunteers for doing the dishes and laundry.
    And for the absolute heroes: take a night feeding shift (Thank you Mom!!!).
    The first four weeks are just a blurred but if you are fed and surrounded by love from positive people, embracing the crazy is much easier.

  24. Ellie Lewis says...

    I so agree with the salad! Our lovely friends and family brought us endless casseroles and pasta dishes which we loved, but the lean meat and vegetable dishes really helped balance out all the heavy food.

  25. Kara says...

    I’ve always thought that the standard present for new parents should be a gift certificate for house cleaning services. Honestly, as a mom to three, I would have loved this…still would!

    • Tori says...

      AMEN

  26. Kristian Olson says...

    When my sister visited, she told me to take a nap and asked what needed to be cleaned. Woke up to clean dishes and a clean shower, and after all that, she offered to stay until after little dude was fed and then offered to hold him while I took a shower/time to myself.

    Honestly, this is probably the best gift someone could have given me.

  27. Sara says...

    Please, SKIP DAIRY!
    It’s the most common allergen for babies, and can cause reflux, eczema, and other allergic reactions. Best to wait a couple of weeks and then test, because milk proteins take the longest to clear from a baby’s system so it might be tough to distinguish what’s what (and everything is so new and strange in the very beginning anyway :))

    • shade says...

      Was thinking the exact same thing!

  28. Jessica says...

    Also, text to see if they need anything from the grocery store before you head over with food. Once you have more than just the one baby, there always seems to be something you are out of and quickly running to the store just doesn’t happen.

  29. Breakfast Casserole and a box of individually wrapped brownies were the two life savers when I had my daughter! I loved having a healthy breakfast option to just re heat. Muffins and fresh cut fruit would be amazing too! The box of brownies I stuck right in the fridge and pulled them out one at a time as needed. Oh my, so needed!

  30. Laura C. says...

    Love this. Yes to cooked food, it would have been a life saver for me!
    And I always ask for the birth story! I love to hear them!

  31. Lara says...

    I had my first baby a few months before a friend of mine so I took her a “New Mom Survival Kit” in the hospital. Wine and cookies were included (obvi) but I also put in quite a few items I had learned about in my recovery period but no one had told me about. First up, prunes! You are massively sore down there and even the idea of the first poop after birth is TERRIFYING. Drink lots of water, eat some prunes, don’t strain, just let it happen! Also for down there soreness, witch hazel pads. Put them in the fridge and then you can fold one and put it on top of your pad. I also included a little bottle for perineal rinsing because if you have a tear, dear god peeing stings until it heals up. Finally, lanolin for her nipples if the mom is breastfeeding. The kind in the purple tube is the best!

    • Laura says...

      Yes! A friend of mine made me a ‘first month survival kit’ when I had my first baby and it was amazing. We had learned so much about how to take care of the baby but the kit was all about taking care of myself and it was really comforting for such a tumultuous time. Everything had notes explaining the purpose and giving encouragement. A water bottle (because breast feeding makes you so thirsty), tylenol, senna tablets, pads and witch hazel and directions on freezing them to relieve swelling, trail mix, lanolin, a nice plain black nursing tank top and lots of other things. Plus a bottle of wine and some chocolate bars saying “You just had a baby! Have a drink! Have a treat!” and so many sweet notes saying “This is hard! You’re going to do a great job!” Best gift ever.

    • Lara says...

      Laura – a water bottle is such a great idea that I hadn’t thought of! Definitely going to add that to the next one :)

  32. Kate says...

    I make chocolate chip cookie dough, scoop it into balls, and freeze them. That way I can give whoever needs it a bag full of amazing cookie dough and they can just bake however many they want or need at that moment! If I know delivery is scheduled, I try to bring them by ahead of time. If I can get into their house while they’re at the hospital (obviously only close friends), I stick the bag in their freezer with baking instructions so it’s there when they get back.

    If you stop by someone’s house and see that they have bouquets of flowers around, CHANGE THE WATER FOR THEM. Multiple times I’ve been in friends houses with new babies and have noticed a foul smell that’s totally non-baby related, and it’s always gross old water rotting the stems. Taking care of flowers in vases is surely the LAST thing a new mom wants to do!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a good tip about changing the water!

    • Meredith says...

      a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of sugar added to the water help keep cut flowers fresher longer too if you don’t have more floral food powder!

  33. Jenn says...

    I bring paper goods: toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, etc. so that new parents don’t have to worry about those things that are inevitably needed by them and visitors.

  34. H says...

    Even better- someone who drops off food or things at the door and doesn’t expect to come in. I found visitors exhausting and I KNOW everyone just wanted to love on my sweet babe, but I would have loved some help with zero expectations of socializing! Another great idea I saw: gift cards to uber eats so new parents can order in!

    • Meagan says...

      YES.

    • Caitlin says...

      Yes to all of the “don’t come in/don’t stay long” comments! And if you do hold the new baby, make a point of washing your hands first.

    • Jessica says...

      This is so true!!! I have a two week old and someone that dropped off dinner wanted to come in and hang out. I was tired and not in the mood and my kids were running around all over the place. It was rather annoying. Now, if they had offered to do my dishes or play with my older kids or something, then i would have been ok with them staying.

    • JO says...

      Yes! When I was pregnant with my first, my friend told me that she would come visit eventually, but NOT right away. She said before she had her own kids, she always visited new-mom friends in the hospital. Then, she said, she had her own baby and felt like shouting at visitors, “Do you not know about the blood bath that just went on in here??!!”
      This turned out to be so true and really stuck with me!

  35. Anna Patil says...

    See also: Offering to come over and hold the baby while you take a nap or a shower!

  36. Sarah says...

    Lactation cookies and a milk stout!

    • J says...

      Thank you for this recommendation! This post was particularly timely for me and I had never heard of lactation cookies before. I made a batch for a brand new mom over the weekend and not only were they extremely helpful, they were delicious! Here is the recipe I used if anyone is curious: https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/02/lactation-cookies/

  37. So Glad That Phase is Over says...

    Unless she is constipated, avoiding dairy & carbs, and terrified of pooping…Just me?

    • Mona says...

      Me too!

  38. Sara says...

    This is super timely, I had my third baby yesterday :) I’m hoping one of our moms takes pity and brings some snacks. It’s not as hard as it was the first time, but still…

    • Sasha L says...

      Aww, Sara, congratulations!! I hope those around you are taking wonderful care of all of you, but you especially. Snacks are awesome!!

  39. Ro says...

    I LOLed at “an interest in her birth story”!

    I am guilty of this as well, but isn’t it funny that when you have a baby it’s like you’re the first person to ever have had a baby.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, hahaha, i was thinking about this the other day! and i was the same way when i had toby. i was like, “YOU GUYS, there’s this crazy thing called HAVING A CHILD!!!” hahaha

    • KG says...

      YES. You feel as if no one could possibly understand what you’ve done. It’s hilarious! And I include myself in this.

  40. Katie Larissa says...

    So accurate!

    And after my first miscarriage, having a friend show up at the door with hot pastries and hugs and the statement “this is not your fault” was perfection. So thankful for that friend and her fearlessness. (I think sometimes we shy away from approaching grief, especially the messy kind that accompanies the blood and ache and self-reproach of losing a baby.)

    • H says...

      Oh gosh I’d love a post on this. My family just didn’t know how to react and I think most want to be understanding and helpful and just don’t know how. Lindsay from Pinch of Yum did an excellent series on Healing a Broken Heart after her son, Afton, passed away. People just didn’t know what to do or say so she wrote some articles on how to be helpful.

  41. MelTown says...

    Yes to the salad! I had three c-sections and felt so rotten after each one all I wanted was salad and fresh fruit and everyone was bringing baked pasta and heavy casseroles. I did appreciate ice cream though! I basically wanted nothing but salads and desserts. Also, breakfast/snacks/lunch! My husband didn’t get leave when my kids were born and people brought lots of dinners but nothing for the daytime hours when I was home alone with a baby recovering from surgery. Now I always bring a basket of healthy easy things a new mom can eat during the day without much preparation. Fresh fruit, bagged popcorn, crackers and pre-sliced cheese, granola bars, nuts, and some treats too because you need treats during an upheaval. I remember being so hangry from nursing and not sleeping and constant caregiving and having a hard time carving out time to eat.

  42. Sandra says...

    Awwww….this is a great list. After a long and rough labor and a few nights in the NICU for our son, we only had 1 visitor who happened to bring food. It was bagels, cream cheese, and OJ. I think we ate leftover bagels for several days because we were too exhausted to shop or cook for ourselves. I’ll never forget how grateful we were to them!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, yes! i remember every food that was brought after my children were born. fresh oj is the BEST. ice cream. bagels. my friend abbey brought a bag with simple sandwich fixings: tomato, lettuce, bread, cheese and turkey, and i almost cried with gratitude.

  43. Leah says...

    This made me smile and say “YES” out loud!

    And to the little baggie of sleep I would add another one with time for a long shower.

  44. HH says...

    And barbecue! This is my go-to-meal for new moms. Iron rich, comforting, protein-packed, and with lots of sides to accommodate partners and family members who may not be meat-eaters.

  45. Andrea says...

    Interest in birth story! After I had my baby, I felt like everyone was interested solely in the baby. Sure, I loved showing the baby off, but didn’t they also want to hear about the 2-day, life changing, can’t-believe-it-actually-happened story of how I delivered him?

    Also, cookies.

  46. Agh… I wish someone had given that list to my friends and husband when I had my girls!

  47. Ginny says...

    Love this, particularly the birth story aspect. When I was pregnant, I was struck by how much people love talking about their birth stories! It’s funny, because my husband is also part of this cohort. I love the story and it’s such a special moment I really don’t know how to put it into words…but he does, ha!!