Food

What Food Do I Bring to New Parents, and Other Burning Questions

What Food Do I Bring to New Parents, And Other Burning Questions

Welcome to this month’s edition of Burning Questions! On today’s collective brain? Easy things to take to new parents, affordable cloth napkins, and thinking outside the chip-n-dip for party starters…

What’s an easy, portable meal to take to a new mother? — Eleanor

First, can I just say how amazing it is that so many of you asked this and so many of you answered it, reminding me how grateful we should all feel to be surrounded by people who mother each other, virtually and otherwise? Second, when I’m tasked with feeding a new parent — or anyone going through something difficult for that matter — I’m a big fan of dropping off healthy soups, packaged in single-serving bags for flexibility. They freeze well, work for both lunch and dinner, and offer a nice counterpoint to the fleet of casseroles taking over the kitchen. Reader Caroline had a solution for the casserole factor, too: New parents are “usually overloaded with lasagna and other entrees, so I always stick to bringing healthy-ish, easy-to-eat-with-one-hand snack food. Cut-up fruit — pineapple, watermelon, or whatever is in season. Homemade granola bars, cookies and herbal iced tea have always been well received. When my father died, all I wanted was for someone to bring me a big, fresh salad with homemade dressing!” How smart is that? And just a reminder, food does not have to be homemade to be appreciated. As reader and mother of three Katie Larissa wrote: “One friend who works full-time went to the grocery store and brought a rotisserie chicken, frozen mashed potatoes, a package of frozen french green beans, fun yogurt for the kids, and fancy ice cream for the adults. It was a hit, and I appreciated that she made the effort to care for us, even though she didn’t have time to cook something.” Let’s keep this up, friends.

Q: Why is it so hard to find cloth napkins that don’t break the bank? — Everyone, Constantly

A few weeks ago I discovered I was short on napkins only an hour shy of having people over and ended up spending desperation inflation on a four-pack of linens from Sur La Table for $40. Even in ideal shopping conditions it’s difficult to find cloth napkins that are reasonably priced — by reasonable, I mean not more than six or seven bucks per napkin — a concern echoed by a few of you over the years. To solve this quandary, I turned to my market expert, aka Joanna, who uncovered these cotton napkins from West Elm (I love the texture) and these from H&M which come in a robust range of colors, both of which meet my cost criteria. And here’s something lucky: those Sur La Table favorites? They’re on sale. Be smarter than me and pick up a pack now.

Q: FTLOG, what are good appetizers to bring to a party that do not include chips? Dips (salsa, guac, etc.) are delish but I hate always bringing chips to a party. Veto to crudite, too boring. Help!  — Ashely Em

It means For the Love of God — I had to think about that one, too! This is a good question, Ashley Em. While I don’t have anything against the chip-related appetizer, I am always on the lookout for starters that are a little unexpected and — this is crucial — assembly-only (or assembly-mostly). Of course, my brain immediately defaults to a ball of burrata with baguette slices and prosciutto — ask the butcher for super thinly sliced and serve the cheese surrounded by the meat. Even simpler? A plate of Parm hunks (is there a better cheese?) and fresh figs, which checks every box of Ideal Starter: fresh, not too filling, and whets-your-appetite salty. Joanna’s friend Anna likes to serve store-bought vegetable sushi rolls (bonus: it’s easy to pick up on the way to the party) and I love Alison Roman’s hot take on deviled eggs — i.e. top 7-minute eggs with the things you’d normally be deviling them with. I’m gonna give that a shot this weekend.

Thank you, everyone! Keep the questions coming!

Jenny Rosenstrach writes the blog Dinner: A Love Story, and is the bestselling author of four cookbooks.

P.S. More burning questions, and what to make for dinner tonight.

(Photo illustration by Maud Passini.)

  1. Seraphim says...

    When we had our first child, a friend brought over a take-and-bake pizza and a big salad from a local pizza place. It was perfect because we could just pop the pizza in the oven whenever we were ready, there was basically zero clean-up, and it was really yummy. Easy. This is now our go-to when we drop off dinner for new parents… we also throw in a 6-pack of beer and some chocolate chip cookies… because that’s really what every new mom needs. Ha!

  2. Andrea says...

    One of my friends had a baby in a city far from me and everyone she knew. I always take new mamas meals, and I was stuck for what to do for her. I thought about sending her some gift cards to places that deliver, but she has severe allergies and her husband was pre-diabetic, so delivery-type food wasn’t a great option. What I ended up doing, and which I highly recommend if you can find the right person, was hiring a caterer to bring her 2 full meals. It cost me about $70, but the woman was absolutely amazing – everything she took was good “home cooking” that they both could eat.

  3. Eleanor says...

    What’s awesome about this post is that I asked the question about what meal to take to a new mom, and my childhood best friend, Katie Larissa, answered it unawares. :) It’s true: sometimes our best resources are our friends.

  4. Honestly I was the happiest with gift cards.

  5. Catherine says...

    After my first son was born my mom came to visit and she made a big batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. Not the cookies, just the dough. Whenever I was hungry, I took a scoop. When she left at the end of the week, she made another batch for my fridge. It was the best treat to have and I frequently made it for myself throughout the early days/years of my kids lives.

  6. Jenn Dreier says...

    Bandanas make great napkins. A couple bucks a piece and come in all sorts of Great colors and designs!

    • Karinny says...

      GENIUS!

  7. Ikea white-with-red-stripe dishcloths are our fave cloth napkins. I got the idea from a restaurant in NYC called Almond, in the Flatiron. They’re $.79 the last time I bought them, and work really well.

  8. Rachel says...

    My favourite source for cloth “napkins” is a pack of tea towels from Ikea. They’re cheap, absorbent and extra large so great for kids and messy meals.

  9. Plenty of cloth napkins to be found at the thrift store.

    If you know how to sew you can also make them from old linens. I made some from an old duvet cover 5 years ago and they’re still going strong.

    There’s so much textile waste….hate to think of people spending lots of money on cloth napkins.

    • laura lennon says...

      yes! i get all my napkins from thrift stores and am always complimented on them!

  10. Emily says...

    Goat cheese stuffed dates!

    and also, the first time my husband washed our linen napkins after we got married he was like “hey, i think these are messed up, not sure what i did but they are wrinkled” – hon, i’m so sorry, but we have to iron those…

  11. MKW says...

    Our kids custom painted wooden napkin rings for each family member. If our cloth napkin is not dirty after a meal it is put in our individual ring and used another time or two. Of course, the napkins are still laundered quite often.

  12. SB says...

    I took a cue from one friend who had a baby to inspire my gift for the next friend…

    A close friend had a baby and was struggling a bit with baby blues / finding herself through it all. She mentioned that it was so amazing how much love and effort everyone put into acknowledging her sweet baby, but she was just finding everything so hard and felt like she was losing herself in the process.

    Cue next friend who had a little peanut – when we went to visit her and the little one, we brought some quiche and I put together a little Mama Pampering Basket – some things like nipple balm and a cute spit-up cloth that looked more like a scarf, but some things that were not mom/baby centric: some face masks, body scrub, some favourite snacks, etc. She thanked us again a few months later – having these things on hand that were a gift made her feel less guilty for taking time for self-care during that intense early period because she had to! It would be rude otherwise! haha.

    Now I try to keep this going for new mum friends – throwing in little things to remind my supermum friends that it’s okay to think about themselves too: a new pair of running socks for my running buddy, new stationary for my writer friend, etc. I feel like it can be a subtle reminder that while EVERYTHING has changed, so much remains the same :)

  13. Alyseq says...

    Our family has switched to cloth napkins in an effort to produce less trash, and those IKEA tea towels with the white stripe that cost less than $1 each are my favorites. A little bigger than average, maybe, but easy to wash and I usually like to clean up any dinner spills with them afterwards, before I throw them in the laundry.
    Amazon also has very affordable options!

  14. Margaret says...

    I love to bring over a 12pack of le croix or some other type of bubbles to new parents! I figure they will have a lot of people coming and going during the first few weeks and it so nice to be able to offer guests something besides water!

  15. I highly recommend the book The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. I bought it for my best friend while she was pregnant, but ended up reading it myself so I could learn how to best care for her. It is a great guide for nourishing the new mother with the meals/ingredients she needs as her body, mind, and spirit transition through the postpartum period :)

  16. Gretchen says...

    After I had my first, several friends brought us straight up bags of groceries and it was the best thing ever.

  17. Greta says...

    They’re not the cheapest source for napkins (or tablecloths), but they’re not the priciest, either: Saffron Marigold. I have four of their gorgeous Indian-print tablecloths & several napkin sets as well. They’re colorful and gorgeous, get tons of compliments, and wash and wear wonderfully. Seriously, I love this shop’s table linens and can’t understand why it’s not better known.

  18. Darrah Blanton says...

    Hi CUP crew,
    Have you seen the documentary film “The True Cost” about fast fashion brands like H&M? Now streaming on Netflix. I encourage your staff to check it out. You might reconsider recommending products from H&M and other fast fashion brands after viewing. Thanks for considering.

    • mado says...

      I like this comment.

    • Madeline Churm says...

      Agreed! Nay to the fast-fashion companies.

    • Turtle says...

      I also like this comment.

    • Sara says...

      Yes! Love.

    • Dina Cohen says...

      thank you for this important reminder!

  19. Elisabeth says...

    Our group of mom friends tends to send Postmates gift cards after a baby or a health issue — that way the family can order whatever delicious restaurant meals they’re missing and have them delivered, no worrying about food allergies or preferences.

  20. Shiraz says...

    Just want to chime in and say that while many families want privacy and space when a new baby arrives, others are eager for company! It can be isolating to care for an infant, and I was super excited when visitors came. The key is to know your people, and ask them what they prefer in a low-pressure way.

  21. Abigail E Murrish says...

    I LOVE to take meals to new mamas but if I find myself tight on time and unable to make a full meal for a new mama, I like to make a snack basket and include an assortment of goodies from Trader Joe’s along with a homemade/home-prepared item like a fruit salad or energy balls.

  22. Rue says...

    I have great cloth napkins from World Market and from Ikea. The Ikea ones were the cheapest of all and have been washing and wearing super well. World Market has more selection, and those have been washing and wearing pretty well. The WM cotton napkins are still a little stiff, but the linen ones have been wearing in nicely.

  23. I’m 14 weeks pregnant and I’ve been wondering – what’s a good way of letting people know which foods to bring? I have celiac disease and blood sugar issues, so everything needs to be completely gluten-free and ideally low carb as well. I’m dreading getting giant pans of lasagna or lovingly homemade cookies and not being able to eat it. Also, we only have a tiny freezer, so where do you put all this food that people are bringing?
    Generally, Any ideas for how to get the word out to people about what you need without coming off as some sort of picky-eating diva?

    • Abigail Murrish says...

      Natalie, I’d recommend starting a Take Them A Meal sign-up (https://takethemameal.com/) and listing out allergies and delivery directions. Bonus: when someone asks if there’s a good time to bring you a meal, just send them your link!

      And, if people still bring items you can’t eat, I found that it was still nice to have an abundance of food on hand for family and friends in town to snack on while helping and meeting the baby.

    • Nicole H says...

      I’m Celiac too and felt anxious about this as well. I didn’t want piles of delicious-looking foods that I could not in fact eat. A friend organized a meal train for us (mealtrain.com, it’s free), and this was super helpful in a couple of ways: 1.) We knew when people were bringing meals! 2.) In the bio section we could name allergies/preferences/dislikes, I included links to a couple of my go-to GF recipe websites to help people who felt confused/intimidated. Congratulations!

    • hanna says...

      I have celiac too, and kind of recently found out. Do you guys feel comfortable having other people cook for you when you can’t supervise it? Using their own pots & pans and utensils? I’ve been in situations where it would be nice to cook a GF meal at someone else’s home or have someone cook something for me, but I feel too apprehensive because of the cross contamination issues.

  24. Pru says...

    Bringing food to a new parent must be an American thing as I have never known it to be done in England. Flowers and maybe a teddy bear but not food. I personally wouldn’t want to be intruding on someone when everything is hectic.

    • Jen says...

      Ideally, friends drop off a meal, offer their love and then leave straightaway. Or even leave on the door step! Not everyone follows this etiquette but in my opinion, theres nothing better in those early weeks. A bit later a shared meal allows you to socialize without effort.

    • Nona says...

      This tradition is more for the first few weeks after they arrive home from the hospital, when you are in the thick of the new-baby stage but people want to come by and meet the baby. The will swing by, drop off a dish for later, see the baby and leave (ideally the whole visit taking around 30 mins).

    • Alyse says...

      Often the giver does not stay around after dropping off or sending food! Knowing that you are cared for without having to engage or entertain in return brings great peace of mind! When my first child was born, my friends and neighbors also included disposable or non-returnable utensils and dishes, napkins, and everything we would need to enjoy the meal without having to clean up or worry about returning things.

    • Jessica says...

      Really? I’m in England and got lots of food when I had a baby last year! Work sent me a picnic basket with muffins in too which was v appreciated!

  25. Madeline D says...

    Empanadas are my favorite thing to bring new parents! I make a ton, they can put them in their freezer and microwave a couple as needed. Bonus, you can eat them with one hand!

    • Leanne says...

      I love making breakfast burritos for the same reason. A friend gave them to me, and they were genius.

  26. Maggie says...

    Home Goods for linen napkins. I stumbled on 100% linen napkins one day. Yes, you may have to dig, but with a little coffee and a bunch of excuse me’s you can find some gems.

    • Maggie says...

      Any they were $6!

  27. Beth says...

    Totally agree! Soup is hard work when multitasking and breastfeeding. Lasagne, curries, pies and baked potatoes get the tick of approval from me .

  28. As a little reminder for me, even i am not a good chef :) thanks for sharing!

  29. Kay says...

    In England it is not customary for people to take meals over when baby has been born. I wish it was as I really could have done with the help. Only with my first child did someone provide a meal, she was nearly two weeks old when a lady from church turned up with a lasagne and syrup sponge pudding. I literally cried with gratitude and we made it last a couple of days. Of all the presents we receive this is the one that I still remember because it meant so much to me.
    Also my go to bring along a starter is often small sausages cooked in mustard and honey, or a good cheese cut into small pieces. Also brownies cut up small because why can’t have the best food first!

  30. Char says...

    Can we pleaaaaaaaaaaaase start a Cup Of Jo Facebook group so that all of your oracle readers can share advice?! Everyone who reads this blog is a total genius!

    • Lindsey says...

      I second this!

  31. Lucy Gregory says...

    re: foods for new moms – Feeding Mama is a Canadian service based in traditional Chinese medicine that provides 30-days of meals of the post-partum mama so she can heal her body and fill it with nutrients. It’s such a great idea, philosophy and method! https://www.feedingmama.ca

    (p.s not my company I just love and am impressed by them)

  32. Kate says...

    Easy appetizer is smoked salmon on either rye or pumpernickel – I can usually find cocktail sized squares in the bakery section or in a pinch smoked salmon on cucumber slices. Do a quick grind of fresh black pepper over the salmon and decorate the plate with small lemon wedges. Presto looks sophisticated and tastes delicious!
    As for a new mom or for that matter a death in the family I always take a ham/turkey,that I have cooked myself – not the wet slices, a salad, vinaigrette dressing in a jar and a baguette or a package of quick bake dinner rolls plus a pie – homemade or purchased.
    Frankly, I am impressed by the whole interest in cotton napkins – I buy industrial-sized packages of dinner-sized paper from Smart & Final and call it a day.

  33. Grace Thomas-Edmond says...

    As a person who had a baby relatively recently, I have to very strongly vote against soup. For at least the first three months I ate almost all my meals one-handed over my baby, so soup was a no-go. I would vote healthy salads, quiches, things that can be eaten luke warm or cold and easily with one hand.

    • Teresa says...

      I tend to make huge freezer bags of oatmeal pancakes (with blueberries!) that I’ve frozen individually and put in gallon sized freezer bags for exactly this reason. Further, as everyone I know is on the second child these have the bonus of being good for a toddler too.

    • Julie French says...

      Amen to that!

  34. Elena says...

    After my daughter was born, dear friends brought us bagels, lax, cream cheese and other spreads, cookies and a bottle of rose champagne. (They couldn’t resist the pink, they said) They bagels were great quick meals on demand, quick and filling. Cookies are always welcome, I think. The champagne, not necessary, but the sweetest touch. So many people brought us things, but this is the one that I remember the most.

  35. A says...

    My baby just turned 6 months and looking back I can think of some of the most helpful meals/actions at the beginning:
    -leave stuff on the porch! Sometimes I did enjoy some socializing but it was always welcome to have a friend text and say “I left something on your porch.” THANK YOU!!!
    -BAGELS & LOX. I didn’t eat lox while pregnant and the bagels + fatty cream cheese + lox were sooooooo delicious in those first days. Friends brought over a dozen bagels and tons of cream cheese and lox. Easy for my husband to put together and tasted so nourishing for breakfast each morning!
    -wine, yummy dark chocolate, greens & chicken. Mmm. Protein.
    -Not food, but my thoughtful and wonderful neighbor was checking in with me by text and I told her how hard it was. The next day she texted saying she left something on the porch. It was a 5 year one line a day journal. I think it saved my sanity and helped me remember who I was in those first few months (and still going strong). 30 seconds to spend on yourself each day. Plus the love you feel from someone who knows how hard it is and how you need a reminder that you are also important and a person in those early days.
    -Body scrub, soap, body butter… a friend dropped off these treats for me to use. A little celebration and treat when I finally got a shower. I felt so loved!
    -A friend offered to bring over dinner… and then also brought lunch for us to have while she visited and helped me get a few things done. Wow. Healthy salad for lunch and delicious dinner.

    (Man, I was so lucky…. will never forget all these kindnesses…)

    • Kay says...

      I often give a gift to the mother of special soaps, body butter etc because I think she deserves a treat. The baby is beautiful and gets all of the attention but it is the mother who is getting up and doing late night feeds, keeping the home running, still doing laundry, often bringing up other children too. The mother really deserves presents much more than the baby. x

  36. Lucia says...

    Great series! A suggestion for a future post: what are your best tips for eating while traveling if you don’t feel like a full-on restaurant meal? As an introvert sometimes I just want to go back to my hotel after a long day of meetings. The best solution I’ve found is to hit a Whole Foods and bring back dinner from the salad bar. Would love other suggestions!

    • Bec says...

      Cheese plate (add tomatoes, avocado, cucumber or other veggies)
      I’m sure there’s some more exciting ideas people have…

    • Kate says...

      I can’t add anything here because as a fellow introvert, the Whole Foods salad bar is my go-to for this situation as well! I also find you can’t go wrong with a burrito bowl from chipotle.

    • Elizabeth says...

      whole foods salad bar is one of my favorite work travel rituals! if i’m feeling extroverted i will go to a restaurant, sit at the bar and sip on a drink while i order and wait for takeout to take back to my hotel room.

  37. Abby says...

    Chiming in with an appetizer AND new baby meal.
    My lazy go-to appetizer is pita chips and that delicious jalapeno artichoke dip from Costco. I serve it cold and nobody complains!
    As for the new baby meal, I had my first 2 months ago and my mom basically grocery shopped for us for the first 3 weeks, which was AMAZING. A friend had a baby 6 weeks after me, so we went to TJs and stocked up on the basics… eggs, milk, cheese, carrots, hummus, salty snacks, oatmeal, easy fruit and a few of their new refrigerated chicken entrees in addition to the dinner we brought. It’s cheap, easy, and stretches out the amount of time before the new parents have to venture out.

  38. Sarah says...

    When I had my first baby, I had some brutal GI issues postpartum. My family was generous with casseroles and New England comfort food, which was kind and tasty, but not at all what my gut really needed. Based on that experience, I try to make sure there’s a healthy dose of fiber in anything I make or bring to new parents, whether or not we’re close enough to share those kinds of personal details!

  39. Kate says...

    I’m about 8 years into bringing food to new mamas, and I just found my formula: good coffee, good wine, and a snack: so far this summer I’ve done homemade granola with yogurt and oatmeal bars with fresh raspberries. Extra points for milk-making oats!

  40. Sarah says...

    Etsy for handmade cloth napkins at many different price points.

  41. Kate says...

    My go-to post baby food delivery is breakfast empanadas (I use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for the dough, fill them with scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and green chiles, then freeze them) and a batch of chocolate chip cookies (usually Joy the Baker’s brown butter chocolate chip cookies, scooped and frozen so they can be baked and eaten whenever). I also provide a couple of bottles of good hot sauce and a box of Maldon sea salt for sprinkling on the cookies. Every time I’ve done this the new parents have been SO HYPED.

    • Sally says...

      Wow! I want to be friends with you!

  42. Diane says...

    Thrift stores are my favorite place to fine cloth napkins. So cheap!

  43. Meghan says...

    Sorry, **stripe** pattern… ha, no strippers on the napkins :)

  44. Meghan says...

    WORLD MARKET NAPKINS: $1.99 each, perfect mix of poly and cotton so they don’t wrinkle but do absorb moisture. Cute “sack cloth” strip pattern. Get them, they last forever and mine are yet to stain!

  45. Sasha L says...

    Perhaps they aren’t fancy, but I just use pinking shears to cut fabric into napkin size and call it good. I make regular biggish ones for the grown ups and smallish fun pattern ones for kids. No feeling too bad if one gets ruined with marinara or something and it uses up scraps from other projects too. Plus, fabric store shopping! Picking from among thousands of prints is delightful.

  46. Sarah says...

    I’m a mom of five, and by far and away the best meals we have ever gotten were gift cards to our favorite local pizza place. 20 or 25 bucks will go along way even for a big family. And then the parents can choose when to use it! It’s like money in the bank! And so much easier than cooking. This is my go-to gift for new moms now, plus a couple beers or a bottle of wine.

  47. Meghan says...

    For appies: I have two super reliable go-to’s: Smitten Kitchen’s baked feta (so, so yum) or frozen edamame heated up in a pan with a spoonful or two of garlic black bean sauce (vegan and gluten-free). So salty (which, for me, is synonymous with delicious)!

  48. Cherri Porter says...

    I though I posted this already, but I don’t see it, so he’s an abbreviated version.

    We use dish cloths for napkins. When I find some I like, I buy a bunch and voila. A drawer full of matching cloth napkins. (Though, I’m totally find with outmatching ones as well.)

  49. K says...

    Re: appetizer– growing up, a popular one SOMEONE ALWAYS brought was a tray of nori/dried seaweed and fillings to roll in them– vinegared rice, cucumber matchsticks, fake crab, and sliced boiled eggs were common fillings. Topped with a swirl of Japanese mayo. An easy, inexpensive hand roll station that you can fancify however you like. Perhaps today we’d also add in sliced avocado, oil-packed tuna or sardines, smoked salmon, or a tub of fish roe.

    And re: cloth napkins, etsy has a wealth of linen options !

    • I love that you think of Etsy for the napkins! Supporting craftspeople is a lovely idea, and that way, you get to live with the handmade on a daily basis!

  50. Polyana says...

    I have a friend who on the day before her wedding, was running around stressed with last minute things to do, and I offered to help. I met her at her mom’s house and there, she’d just bought some bread and mortadella (bologna). She made herself a sandwich and sighed “This is my favorite food.”

    So a few months ago, before I went to meet her new baby, I stopped by a bakery/deli and picked up fresh baguettes and mortadella, a simple cake, and some juice and coconut water – not really knowing if a new mother would be able to consume said mortadella – and got lots of it, so she and her husband could also offer something to people who stopped by for snacks and coffee (very customary here in Brazil).

    Once I got to her house, she let me hold the baby and made herself a mortadella sandwich – she couldn’t believe I’d remembered that day before her wedding!

    So now I figured I’ll just bring my new mother friends their favorite foods!

    • LWMiller says...

      What a thoughtful friend you are! That made me tear up a little. Your friends are lucky to know you!

    • Sasha L says...

      This is just the best. Favorite food=thoughtful friend indeed.

      Last night my daughters friend came over and we had a little birthday party for him. He’s away from his family and my daughter told me his favorite is carrot cake, so I baked him one. He was so happy and touched. Little things matter a lot.

    • Sarah says...

      This made me cry from how thoughtful and simple. WHAT A GOOD FRIEND POLYANA.

  51. For affordable cloth napkins, Williams Sonoma dish cloths are the perfect size and wash up great for everyday use (they sometimes carry super cheap, almost identical dupes of these at TJ Maxx). IKEA dish towels are also thin enough to fold in half and feel like a quaint Euro-bistro napkin — perfect for nicer occasions (though I should note that they require some ironing after washing if you’re into your linens being unwrinkled!)

  52. Emily says...

    Just a little note to say that NOT ALL new parents want visitors to arrive armed with lasagna pans. Cooking was not a problem for me, not difficult or onerous or at all stressful—-but visitors were. It was so distressing to me, with a tiny new baby at home, to think of people arriving in my home. I said no, thank you, and people seemed a little put off by this response. For LOTS of us (introverts, maybe?) we’d rather be left in peace to get acquainted with this new human; visits can start after a month (or two or three) have gone by.

    • Le says...

      This may have been all the hormones, but I remember feeling envious (!) of every moment a visitor was holding my baby the first three months. I couldn’t stop thinking, “I only have 12 weeks of leave, and this time is PRECIOUS. (Please go away!)” It was the only time we got together. It sounds selfish to say that, and I almost hate admitting it, but those feelings were real.

    • Sasha L says...

      I think it’s also totally cool to want the food, but not the visit. I’ve left homemade granola bars on the front steps with a text that let Mama know they were there. Visits should not be expected of new parents. Nope.

    • B says...

      YES! When I had my twins I felt so guilty for tossing all that food that I didn’t really feel like eating (I wanted to eat whatever it was that I felt like eating; not something someone brought me).

      I so appreciated the gesture but I will pass. You can always bring me a bottle of champagne though :).

    • Lin says...

      I agree! If you do bring something, drop it and get out. And for heaven’s sake don’t bring food and then stay to eat. This happened to us and it was awful. I was struggling to nurse, we were not up for dinner guests and they stayed way too long.

  53. Elizabeth says...

    Whenever I bring a meal to a family – whatever the reason – I also always ask what one thing they wished they had in the fridge/pantry but don’t. Dying for a frozen pizza? Need some mustard? Apples? What about beer? Not only do they get a homemade (or semi-homemade) meal, they also get something they need but haven’t had a chance to pick up.

    • beks says...

      …and this is why your friends love you!

  54. Nicole Snyder says...

    I just bought a four pack of utilitarian linen napkins at Home Sense for $7 total. Am I missing something here? They weren’t ugly or made from poor quality material. Do ya’all not have Home Sense?

    • t says...

      We do but it’s called Home Goods (I think it is the same… both owned by TJ Max).

      I agree. I don’t ever have a hard time finding affordable cloth napkins. Also easy to score at garage sales.

  55. Anne Elliot says...

    World Market has cloth napkins, they sell a set of 6 napkins for 10 bucks. Singles for $2 each. The napkins are a bit utilitarian, but at that price you can really put them to use without fear of ruining “the fancy napkins.” .

  56. Cherri Porter says...

    Napkins

    We have always used dish or wash cloths for reusable napkins.

    When I find something I like, I buy 20 or so. That way, if we have people over, we have enough and extra.

    We use them for family dinners, too.

  57. Ashley says...

    One of the best times I have ever been brought a meal was on the first day I went back to work after my maternity leave. My coworker showed up with spaghetti and meatballs plus salad from Whole Foods for me to take home. Simple, but it meant the world to know I had one less thing to think about when I got home and added some extra love to that first tough day.

    • Eliza says...

      I love that idea.

    • Sasha L says...

      I’ll be caring for a new baby in a few weeks, in my home day care, and I’m planning on sending dinner home with baby the first day. Mama will have a few more minutes with her precious baby that night and one less thing to worry about.

  58. Alexis says...

    Cloth Napkins: These Ikea dish towels work perfectly as cloth napkins and are 79 cents. SEVENTY-NINE CENTS!!! Once they are stained they work well as rags and/or in place of paper towels. I have been using them for years.

    Meals for New Parents: Don’t forget vegetables! After all of the casseroles and snacks, I just wanted someone to make me a salad. Also, drop your meal off at the front door and leave. Or, if you must, come in, do some dishes, fold some laundry, and get out. Entertaining while a new parent is exhausting.

  59. Virginia Roberts says...

    Another thing new parents love is breakfast food! Egg cups are one of my favorites, but some frozen breakfast burritos (ideally low carb—nobody recovering from any kind of birth needs constipation from starches) can also work. You get so sick of reheating lasagna etc. at 3 AM but you need the protein what with milk hormones and a major body recovery!

    • Kristin says...

      Yes! And when my brother-in-law died unexpectedly, people brought plenty of non-breakfast food. When a friend asked what we needed, we said breakfast food, and she brought bags of bacon, eggs, bread, juice….it was so nice not to have to go to the store ourselves.

  60. Valerie says...

    When I moved last year I finally decided to make the change to cloth napkins for environmental reasons (and because I finally have an in unit washer and dryer!). Ordered them from Magic Linen on Etsy-6 for $40 (so $6.60 each) and I love them! Great colors and quality

  61. Caitlin says...

    Um, is Ashley Em secretly my mom?! I have only ever seen FTLOG in text correspondence my mom! And when I’ve tried to use it with other people – total crickets. This is blowing my mind! (Sidenote: does every mom has a secret arsenal of slang specific just to her? Monkey holes, pill-yos, hair doinks = all things I thought were real words until I used them with strangers and found out they are very made up.)

    My two cents on an app: fancy homemade chex mix. How Sweet Eats has a great chipolte caramel one that my peeps love and it’s easy as hell.

    • sylvie says...

      That sounds like it could double as a post-baby meal drop off idea!
      Xo

    • Margaret says...

      You’re going to need to define those mom terms for us!! I’m dying to know…

  62. Lora says...

    I love taking an assortment of sandwich fixings to a new mom. Several types of deli meats and cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and delicious croissants. Great for lunch or dinner and snacks!

    • Molly says...

      I agree! When I had my son my husband’s company (let’s be real, his amazing secretary) sent us a giant deli meat and cheese platter with rolls, a giant veggie tray, and a giant fruit tray and it was HEAVEN. We could grab a roll of meat or a piece of fruit when we had a minute, or we could sit down and make a full sandwich. We were also able to feed our parents with no effort when they came over to help.

  63. Hannah G, says...

    When our daughter was 2-ish months, a family brought over a huge bag of Trader Joe’s snacks for us and now that’s what I do for new parents. It’s so fun to get a bag of goodies you might not normally treat yourself to, and holy-moly, breastfeeding mamas need snacks! I’ll also add that if a mama experienced blood loss during birth that iron-rich foods (beef, tomatoes, leafy greens) are so helpful.

    • This is exactly what I bring to my new mama friends! When I was in the early days with the babes I was constantly reaching for quick snack foods I could eat one-handed while nursing, so I always would bring a bag of groceries with easy-to-eat snacks and treats, like cookies, crackers, granola bars, grapes, and of course, the 11pm second-dinner special delight: frozen pizza. (And as someone who suffered a massive postpartum hemorrhage after my first baby, which required 2 blood transfusions, I love that you added iron-rich foods to the list. So thoughtful!)

  64. Amy KS says...

    Target always has great cotton napkins, for not a lot of money, that’s my go to.

  65. Margaret says...

    I consistently show up with an appetizer of cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. So easy (cut open dates, put a hunk of brie/cheddar/goat cheese in there, wrap in slice if bacon and put them all under broiler for 5-10 min) and a huge crowdpleaser.

  66. Rachel Elizabeth says...

    Jenny,
    THANK YOU for the cloth napkins suggestions (and people in the comments too)! I was just talking to my grandmother last week about how I would like to try cloth napkins (in my effort to slowly reduce the amount of disposable items I rely on), but all the napkins I had found (prior to this post) were SO expensive.

  67. Lisa says...

    I have an etiquette question on getting meals after the baby arrives. For our first, we had NO idea and said no to the idea of a meal train, and I ended up eating the leftovers from his bris for a few days. With our second, she was ill when she was born and both of us were in hospital for a few days afterwards. I felt a bit awkward asking for a meal train because we had my in laws staying with us and helping out.
    Would people be put out by that? It’s more people to feed but it does help in the first few weeks

    (Meal train = people taking turns to bring meals)

    • Eliza says...

      I’m personally flattered when I have good friends who ask for help! I take it as a sign of trust and love and I’m happy to reciprocate. I’m sure there are lots of people who want to help but don’t know exactly what to do. I don’t always have time to spend a few hours holding your baby while you shower or babysitting an older sibling (even though I’d love to be able to do that every time) but I DO almost always have time to grab an easy meal for a friend while I’m already at the grocery store (my go to is usually: bulk croissants, rotisserie chicken, tray of presliced fruit or bagged salad) .

    • Rebecca says...

      Not at all! My mom is always grateful to have one less thing to help with. 😉

    • Andie says...

      To each her own, but I remember getting a meal train email for some acquaintances of mine that asked for us to make extra food for the parents that were staying with them. I was completely put out, because my thought was—why aren’t the parents making them meals? When my parents stayed with us after my daughters birth, my mom made everything for us. I held the idea that these meals were for the parents when they were drowning in the newborn days and weren’t able to make meals. I don’t readily accept or ask for help, so I’m curious as to what others would say to this, but it definitely rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Cate says...

      Your friends want to help out! I’ve participated in meal trains for people who’s parents were staying with them, and didn’t think it was weird at all.

    • Avi says...

      Andie, every family has different abilities and limitations. Some people’s parents come to help with the baby, other parents will tidy up and keep the house clean, cook food, run errands, or help with older kids. Rarely can grandparents (esp older ones) handle everything new mothers need. My mom would leave my house exhausted every day she helped me post partum but she certainly didn’t cook for us. A lot of other friends and neighbors stepped in to help out in other ways our parents couldn’t.

  68. AMK says...

    The best gifts from our friends after we had a baby. It was beyond generous. A box of diapers and a huge pack of toilet paper. They brought us groceries that were easy to put away and eat later.

  69. Rae says...

    For new mom’s: take toilet paper, snacks, magazines, hair ties, makeup wipes, some easy makeup (i.e. bb cream). And if you’re invited to hangout, get takeaways. Then take out the rubbish and do all of the dishes before you leave. The dinner plates, the breakfast bowls, the half empty mugs. Search the house for them. Wash them. Put them away.

  70. SN says...

    We’ve brought all of the fixings for tacos to friends who just had babies — cooked turkey meat, tortillas, beans, salsa, guac, chips and a 6-pack of Corona. Say hi, coo at the baby if they are awake and leave within 5 minutes. No exceptions!

    For friends who live far away, we always go with Seamless or GrubHub gift cards (and will also send those when people are going through a death, loss, or other medical issues). We call them ’21st Century Casseroles’ and they have always been so well-received by people who appreciate easy ordering for whatever they are feeling to eat.

    • Sarah says...

      THIS! GCs go such a long way, and we loved being able to order what we were in the mood for an have someone bring it to our door!

      We’ve also gone to visit and ordered food from the new parents, (over) ordered from their favorite place, shared a quick meal and cuddled while waiting and then got out of their hair after eating and cleaning up. They had leftovers they and their toddler could eat from a favorite local place, and we got to stay and visit for a clear and finite amount of time (nothing worse for new parents than linger-ers)!

    • Sarah says...

      GrubHub gift cards!! What a genius idea!

  71. EmilyS says...

    My go to new mom meal is a snack box – lactation cookies, fancy granola bars (love bobo’s oat bars), some frozen snacks (annie’s pizza poppers), hummus and carrots/crackers, peanut butter pretzel nuggets, a bag of cherries in the summer/tangerines in the winter. When I was post-partum, I just remember snacking more than eating full meals so it has been my go-to ever since!

  72. Hilary says...

    Follow up to the bringing food to a new mama/dad:

    Please offer to just leave it at the front door! We had people offer to bring stuff but it felt like people would come and stay for hours while I was exhausted, hadn’t showered, etc. I would have loved for someone to drop stuff off with zero expectations of a visit. Also if they had dropped off my favorite coffee order!

    In addition, instead of offering to hold the baby, offer to run errands/throw in a load of laundry/water plants/ do dishes/ etc. I was thrilled to be snuggling my sweet babe, but so much stuff still had to get done around the house!

    • Laura says...

      Agreed! One day, early on, my mom came over and I flat out said, are you here to hold the baby or help?

    • Hilary says...

      Haha YESSS I feel you 100%. Also kind readers, doesn’t hurt to just ask new mamas and dads what they want (but word it mindfully)- a quick text like “hey I’m stopping by Starbucks, what can I pick up for you?” or “I’m at the grocery store, what can I drop off for you?” – Making it seem like it’s not a burden or effort goes a long way!

  73. Joslyn says...

    Surprisingly, my favorite food that someone delivered to me was an Edible Arrangement. I always thought they were kind of silly, but I loved having something fresh on hand that I was able to eat with one hand while breastfeeding. It also made for something easy and healthy to offer people who were helping me with the baby. Obviously cut up fresh fruit works just as well, but if you want to send something to someone out of town, it’s a really good option.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, me too! i loved the chocolate covered strawberries so much — was a really fresh and decadent treat.

  74. Olivia says...

    My cousin brought over a “c section recovery” soup from a book called the first forty days or something like that. It was vegetables like potatoes, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, plus spices like coriander, ginger, and cinnamon, and unexpectedly cashews. To boot, she brought it in her beautiful, cobalt blue Le Creuset pot. It took so much time and effort and was so thoughtful. I absolutely loved it and felt so taken care of every time I had it.

    And, my question – how the hell can I use my instant pot that’s not something common to Pinterest and doesn’t require extra steps? We all know those crock pot recipes that require browning first etc. I want to put it in there all at once and forget about it due to the aforementioned postpartum period. Thank you!

    • sustainablecooks (not me, but I follow her) has a bunch of instantpot soup recipes where you can brown it first but also don’t have to.

  75. Betsy says...

    Easy appetizer to bring to parties that doesn’t involve a chip/cracker. Buy a package of cherry tomatoes. Package of the round mozzarella balls, and fresh basil. Will also need the “fancy” toothpicks with the different colored ends. Doesn’t matter if you put the mozzarella or tomato first. Just place the basil leaf in-between them. Place them in a circle on a plate/platter. Then drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Super easy & delicious, and no chips or crackers needed!

    • shannon says...

      Yes! I made these for July 4th and people lost their minds! We grow basil in the backyard so it felt very homemade even though it’s just four ingredients. Depending on your mozz, you may also need a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper too.

    • Shannon says...

      This is what I do too!! It is so simple, yet I always leave with an empty plate.

  76. Rosie says...

    Also, food was great, but errands were greater. A friend who had brought us lunch came back a few hours later because he had noticed a couple of our lightbulbs were burnt out, and while he was there he changed the filters on the AC, and he dropped off my wife’s dry cleaning on his way home.

  77. Kate says...

    My three favorite meals that were delivered after our baby:
    1. A peach and burrata salad with homemade dressing and grilled chicken. It was so nice to have something FRESH after days of hospital food.
    2. Friends sent us a Whole Foods sandwich platter. It lasted us days, lots of fun options, and was something to have on hand with family in and out that first week.
    3. Someone delivered a ceasar salad, lasagna, garlic bread, cannolis, and a nice bottle of wine. Even though casseroles can be overrated for meal delivery, this felt special. My husband and I sat down and it felt like a real date with multiple courses.

  78. Kelly says...

    One of my most successful appetizers is garlicy, buttery shrimp served with baguette. I get the Trader Joe’s Argentina shrimp for $9.99, place in a shallow casserole or skillet with garlic, butter, maybe some breadcrumb/parmesan for on top. Bake at 425 for not very long and finish with fresh parsley. It’s actually more economical than a cheese board and seems to have more of a wow factor. I’ve done this with mussels as well. I can get a whole bag for $5.99 at my grocery store.

  79. AC says...

    For new parents: anything that can be eaten with one hand. I rarely had two hands free in those early weeks. I remember two friends brought us (delicious) BBQ pork with rice and beans and like four sauces, but it was such a hassle to eat because I needed a knife and fork and a bunch of napkins. Plus, there were so many little greasy containers I had to clean, store for a period of time, and then give back.

    Maybe this goes without saying for most, but certainly few of my friends (without kids) “got it” – FTLOG, just drop off the food and GTFO. So many well-meaning friends wanted to stop by, eat a complicated dinner with us (the food they brought), and hang out with us through the evening. At the time, I was too zonked and chicken-shit to tell them in the most polite way possible to leave us be. I feel like for baby #2, I’ll have more courage. It was annoying to have to entertain, eat complex, multi-part meals, and then clean a bunch of dirty dishes at like 10pm. If you want to be helpful to new parents by stopping by with food, please 1) show up having already eaten, that way you have free hands to help out, hold a baby while they eat, etc.; 2) bring something easy; and 3) know when to leave.

    • AC says...

      Oh I should add, my favorite thing someone brought us was multiple containers of multiple types of freezer-friendly dishes (e.g., mushroom risotto, jambalaya). My friend knew we would benefit from some variety over the weeks. He also portioned it out so that defrosting or microwaving the contents of one container was a meal for my husband and I. No dealing with huge containers. He got our votes for MVP!

    • Suzanne says...

      And clean the dishes before you leave!! Agreed completely with all you said!

    • Lauren says...

      I bring a couple of already frozen things. Sometimes people aren’t sure what is and isn’t good to freeze, so I pack it in ziplocks with reheat instructions on the bag. I do a batch of healthyish banana muffins, a chicken @ wild rice soup and 7 vegetable soup in single servings, turkey and sweet potato empanadas they can bake and a batch of unbaked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. More often then not, I’m told the cookie dough is consumed straight from the freezer, unbaked in the middle of the night. :-)

  80. Alden says...

    My go to new mom meal is lettuce wraps, specifically the chicken lettuce wraps from Chrissy Teigan’s first cookbook. They always get raves, healthy and filling and you can serve them with rice if you want to bulk it up.
    I was grateful for any meals I didn’t have to cook as a new mom but especially meals that included fresh veggies, since so many of them were carbs/cheese (which are also delicious, obviously)

    • Hannah G says...

      I love this! I had a winter baby and was all about the soups and cheesy goodness, but I have so many friends having summer babies right now in 100 degree weather and I was at a loss for what to bring them. Now I’m adding this to the list, with watermelon. Thanks so much!

  81. Abby says...

    By far my favorite postpartum meal gifts were giftcards to UberEats or GrubHub! While it may seem impersonal, being able to order anything at any time with no expectations of entertaining anyone was a lifesaver. Some people may love company right after having a baby, but for me having to get myself showered/dressed, get the baby clean/dressed, and have the house in somewhat decent condition for company was so burdensome and overwhelming. Inevitably, people show up late or early and you end up missing your one brief moment to nap while your little one sleeps or your baby is screaming bloody murder as you try to shove your leaking, engorged breast into their mouth while chatting with the company (and secretly shooting dagger eyes at your husband, willing him to see how badly you need people to leave). Having dinner show up on my doorstep (no strings attached!), was overwhelmingly the kindest thing anyone did for me after having a baby- and a bonus is that it’s also easy for the person giving the gift card!

    • Olivia says...

      Lol this description is spot-on. I thought I was going to climb the walls when my (beloved) in laws came to visit 6 days after my c section with their RUNNING four-year-old. I distinctly remember wanting to murder my mother in law when she tried to soothe the baby bc she was crying from a dirty diaper. I was DYING inside. Like – YOU CANT SOOTHE A DIRTY DIAPER!! Give me my baby!!!! Hahah it felt very good to take her to her nursery to feed her for an entire half hour :)

  82. Molly says...

    Great ideas!! Speaking of soups, my go-to new parents dish (or anytime you need to bring a meal to someone) is Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup. It’s packed with veggies meatballs and orzo pasta:
    https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/italian-wedding-soup-recipe-1945517

    A few notes so it’s not so laborious:
    For the meatballs I just use both the Trader Joe’s spicy & sweet Italian as a combo and then ditch the rest of the seasoning in the recipe as they are packed with flavor

    I’m in a rush, I don’t even make the meatballs, I just take the sausage out of the casings and fry up the sausage in my Dutch oven – so tasty!

    It is always a hit – I could eat it for a week straight.

  83. katie says...

    Two ideas! #1 One of those snack subscription boxes? Esp if she’s breastfeeding – easy, healthy snacks are a must and I’m sure it would feel like an indulgence to go online and pick what she’s craving.
    #2 = let her know you’ve self-appointed yourself as photo girl. She’ll likely be sending you pics anyways, right? Be the one to upload ’em online and actually PRINT some. These days CVS and Walgreens make it easy to mail anywhere. On the same note, assuming she’d reach out to recap the birth story or adorable baby moments, you could offer to transcribe her story. Baby books? who has time for that? For each of our boys a distant family friend ordered a personalized item with baby’s name/birthdate/length/weight/time of day. No lie – I’ve hunted it down on the shelf to confirm facts. “How big were you? Umm…”

  84. nora says...

    My boss sent me the most amazing package after both of my deliveries.
    Russ & Daughters bagels, cream cheese, lox, and babka.
    Magnolia Bakery banana pudding.
    *Bonus* the Russ & Daughters cooler bag is perfect if you decide to pump when you go back to work. Discrete on the subway, efficient for holding little bottles of breast milk.

    • Rebekah Harper says...

      That sounds sooo good and easy to eat for a few days

    • Kelly says...

      Just ordered! Thanks!

    • Angela says...

      Oh thanks for sharing! I love!!

    • Jackie says...

      Genius!

    • Tina, NYC says...

      Thank you Grace!
      I have been looking for these exact napkins for sooo long!!

  85. Jennie says...

    Whenever anyone I know has a new baby, I drop a dozen sliced bagels and cream cheese on their doorstep, and text them as I drive away. My sister in law did this for me and it was a life-changer. Dinners are great, but you’ve gotta eat breakfast, too!

    • AMK says...

      Yes!! Drop offs like that is amazing!!!

  86. Rosie says...

    Please do not bring a rotisserie chicken to a new mom. We were given so many that there were still a couple in our freezer when we moved 4 years later. Actually ask what they like before the baby comes. Someone brought us a huge bowl of tuna salad and my wife and I haaaate tuna and it just went straight in the trash. When my brother in law came to visit he brought us a ham and it was the biggest treat after endless chicken and lasagnas. The first night he made baked potatoes and green beans, and then we were able to use the rest of the ham in sandwiches and chopped salads. Foods like frittata were great too because they work for any meal. My mom’s friend came over and made us a proper breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fresh bread with homemade jam and then watched the baby while I showered. I came out and all the dishes were clean, bottles sterilized, bed made, garbage taken out, and the baby was asleep. It was the most comforting thing. I also really appreciated a friend who said, I’m bringing you guys dinner, cravings? We both wanted Mexican and our friend showed up with burritos, guacamole, and beer. A true best friend knows your Chipotle order.

    • Whit says...

      This seems a little ungrateful, I’m afraid. People are giving of their time and money and while one hopes they might know or ask your needs, at the end of the day it was a gift to you.

      Plus, there are a zillion things to do with rotisserie chicken?!

  87. Sarah says...

    Is there something I can do for a new mom from across the country (food-related or not)? I moved last year and all my friends are just starting to have babies. My husband’s best friend had a baby last week, and my best friend is due in ~3 weeks and I don’t know what I/we can do from afar! I know a Seamless or UberEats gift card would get used, but feels so impersonal for close friends (both of whom also have lots of family nearby). Thinking the CoJ community might have a good solution!

    • Andrea says...

      A Schwann’s home delivery of a frozen meal and dessert is good if they are In the delivery area.

    • Christy says...

      I have been sending Edible Arrangements recently- the combos of fresh fruit and chocolate covered fruit are great. I really appreciated receiving one after giving birth. Receiving Seamless gift cards was also really appreciated!

    • Jess says...

      Do you know if the women will be breastfeeding? If so, perhaps a nice water bottle. I had no idea how incredibly thirsty breastfeeding would make me, and ended up buying an upstairs water bottle and a downstairs water bottle so I could stay hydrated. I chose ones with straws which made it easier to drink while I was getting the hang of nursing.

      Also, don’t overthink the gift card. My mom gifted us credit to a local food delivery service and it was THE BEST.

    • Nicole says...

      I read this here and have become a legend among my friends. I send ice cream (and sorbet for those that are dairy free). https://jenis.com/gifting/

    • Leah says...

      Babies get plenty of gifts — send a gift certificate for mom for a mani/pedi or massage!

    • For food, I recommend going to https://www.goldbelly.com/, which carries a lot of specialty food items from landmark restaurants and places around the country. It’s nice to send them something from a place you know they love.

      For non-food, I’ve done gift cards for house cleaning, things I know they’ll need but will never get for themselves. I’ve stopped doing gift cards for facials or massages because I’ve realized that it’s hard/stressful for them schedule the appointments (counterpoint: this is still doable if you can conspire with their partner or relatives to make time for them!).

      Hope those help!

    • Angela says...

      That is so kind of you!! Your thoughtfulness will be well received regardless of what you send! One idea would be to order some breakfast or lunch food via instacart or other and send some nice groceries to them! Always feels indulgent to have good lunch meat, bread and fresh fruit!

    • Olivia says...

      Honestly I was the happiest with gift cards. Amazon for sure. There were so many things I didn’t know I needed in the early days (nipple shields, cradle cap stuff, etc) that I just ordered from Amazon while nursing.

      The food delivery is a good idea bc you really do use it when postpartum. It feels almost impossible to leave the house, especially after a c section. I had the distinct feeling of being stranded, and hated asking people to pick up stuff for me, even though I knew they didn’t mind. Delivery is awesome! That’s the only way I get my groceries now!!

    • AG says...

      I second edible arrangements! I’ve sent to families both near(when I’m too busy) and far.

    • Jessica says...

      People tend to send clothes for baby in small newborn sizes. Most of this won’t get used cuz in the early days, it’s just onesies and swaddles. If you want to give clothes, choose bigger sizes, like 9 months plus , which she likely won’t have much of. Think practically if you want her to actually use it, like sleepers with zippers (not damn snaps which are a nightmare at night!). Cutesy outfits often go unworn.

      But better yet, treat her! A gift card to a local maternity shop so she can get a good quality nursing bra or something like that. Or a cute, cozy pair of postpartum friendly pajamas and a stylish kimono style robe so she can look cute but still be comfy for her visitors.

    • hani says...

      My sister just gave birth; I amazon’d her a big pink water jug with a straw and some caffeine free water flavors.
      I was shocked at how colossally thirsty I was during bfing- and little cups and bottles just won’t do. It has to be a ginormous one with a straw.
      ( A ginormous jug with a straw, on par with *your* new ginormous jugs w straws. Wink.)

      A hot/cool neck wrap and mask in a pretty color is also really nice for those late night sessions. This is the one I like(and sent her)
      https://www.amazon.com/Microwavable-Aromatherapy-Shoulder-Happy-Wraps/dp/B07LCVSN17/ref=mp_s_a_1_1_sspa?keywords=herbal%2Bneck%2Bwrap&qid=1563994334&s=gateway&sprefix=herbal%2Bneck%2B&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExNDBOTFVWVEU2REs2JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMDA0ODk4MjVCU1lIVlZUWUNJTiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjM0MTM2MVlXS0tRUUZEOEZVMiZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX3Bob25lX3NlYXJjaF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl&th=1

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you for all the great ideas! Sending Jeni’s ice cream is PERFECT for my husband’s best friend and his wife :)

  88. Kate says...

    Hands down, the best food a friend brought me after having a new baby was a Honey Baked ham, a bag of mini buns, and a jar of mustard. It was SO good, and so easy to snack on and make sandwiches with. It was also a hit for my two older kids when she brought it over after I had my third.

    I also want to second the lactation ball rec! They are so easy!

  89. AG says...

    I’ve become famous for bringing bacon wrapped dates and/or sausage and cheese stuffed mushrooms to parties. So easy and elegant!

    When I need vegetarian options I stuff the dates with blue cheese and walnuts and swap the sausage for spinach in the mushrooms.

  90. Liz says...

    When my husband and I got married, instead of renting napkins, which can cost upwards of $1.50 a piece just to rent for the night. We purchased 150 of these https://www.imagetextile.com/low-lint-heavyweight-green-stripe-herringbone-towel-1-dozen/. After the wedding we put half away and after 3 years still haven’t broken those out. We use them for everything, daily use napkins as well as kitchen towels (we have also only gone through 4 rolls of paper towels in those years). They wash wonderfully and still look nice enough for events, short of a fancy party.

    We also have some of the Ikea kitchen towels mentioned above for nicer dinners.

  91. Colleen says...

    Use bandanas for napkins! They are $1 each, come in loads of colors and you can wash them over and over and they still look great. Amazon, craft stores, fabric stores all carry them.

    • Jen says...

      Yes! We use bandanas as napkins too. They eventually get super soft and nice and faded.

  92. It was such a lifesaver to have meals from friends and family with our new babies that I always try to do that for new moms. As part of the meal, I like to take a loaf of bread or a pan of baked oatmeal or a jar of homemade applesauce – something that can extend beyond the meal to a breakfast or stick in the freezer for later. Also, I always try to take food in disposable containers (things I’ve saved) or pour soup in their pot (for example) so the new parents don’t have to worry about keeping and returning dishes to me. That gets very confusing when lots of people are bringing meals.

  93. laeti says...

    My favorite post partum meals was a friend who brought burgers and fries from Mc Donalds!

  94. Heidi says...

    Instead of lasagnas or other casseroles, I bring light breakfast items and snacks to have on hand. Maybe a batch of homemade muffins (they can freeze them) or croissants, some yogurt and granola, a pound of good coffee or their favorite caffeinated drink, and some cut up fresh fruit. A bag of pretzels or cheese and crackers for a snack to have later or for those middle of the night feedings.

    A taco kit is also good, too! Shredded chicken or taco meat with tortillas and all the fixings. (Cheese, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, beans and rice) Adaptable to make into quesadillas, too.

  95. I’m reluctant to give away my secrets but I get inexpensive cloth napkins at Marshall’s! They have an amazing selection usually in a variety of colors!

    My favorite meal after baby that our friends brought over was an assortment of delicious Arabic treats from Sahadi’s. Kibbeh, hummus, grape leaves, tabbouleh, it was everything I ever wanted! Specifically because it was fresh, flavorful, and able to be consumed with one hand.

    Another was a tray of lox (which I dreamt about for roughly 40 weeks) and fresh bagels from Shelsky’s. Both of these are very BK specific, mind you- but you can find both in a ton of cities. They were just so specific to my favorite things, and so thoughtful. We are so appreciative for great friends!

  96. Love this new series!

    Just wanted to add something on the napkin question– we have been using Ikea dish towels as cloth napkins for years! They hold up nicely, look fun and sort of rustic-chic, and we don’t have to feel precious about them. They come in red, blue and green (we mix and match all three colors). I recently added the green ones to our rotation, which sort of remind me of the green gingham table cloths they use at Upland in NYC They come in a roll and end up being like $1 per napkin- can’t get much better than that!

    https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40277765/

    • Abby says...

      Yes! We threw those in the mix when we were short on napkins one day, and they’ve been in the napkin pile ever since!

    • Liz says...

      We use these too!! We stick to the blue, but they’re great. They’ve held up for years now and are so inexpensive we have extras hidden away just in case.

    • jules says...

      I do this too and it’s great.

    • nora says...

      Yes – love these also! And I don’t see them on the Ikea website, but I’ve also purchased rolls of cloth napkins before (just a few bucks for a whole roll!).

  97. Alyssa says...

    With an influx of close friends having babies in the last two years, I’ve gotten very good at taking them meals. My go-tos:
    -Takeout from their favorite restaurant – we have a bunch of great restaurants in Lancaster and knowing where they would normally go to dinner but won’t be frequenting for awhile is a fun surprise.
    -This casserole! Seriously. You can make it complicated (aka buy raw chicken and cook it but honestly why?!) or super easy to throw together (under 5 minutes) If you buy pre-cooked chicken! I pair it with a bag of salad and a dessert.

    https://omgchocolatedesserts.com/chicken-parmesan-casserole/

  98. Cara Mills says...

    Also be sure to check out HomeGoods (if you have one near you), for great quality napkins at a lower price. They are essentially a TJMax for, guessed it…Home Goods! The other tip I have is to just ask the new Mom is she has any dietary restrictions, especially if they are breastfeeding. The last two Moms I brought meals for were dairy-free and that made me change up the usual meal I take new families.

  99. Mollie Blackwood says...

    When my neighbor had her baby I brought over homemade muffins and fruit salad (and a bottle of wine). Her 3 year old could also snack on the muffin and fruit by himself so it was a hit.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      That’s a great idea!

  100. Em says...

    My sweet sister researched what moms need, nutrient-wise, after just giving birth, and brought us a feast of barbecue and collard greens from a local BBQ joint the night we came home from the hospital. It was so delicious and fed us for days. Another friend picked up Italian from a chain a few weeks later, and ate with us; that huge salad tasted so good after days of heavier dishes. It definitely doesn’t have to be homemade to be so appreciated! We returned the favor with these same meals to other friends who gave birth next and their faces lit up.

  101. Leslie says...

    I have been wondering about the cloth napkins. I mean, you can get a 12-pack of underwear at Target for like $6, so why are cloth napkins $5-10 each?!? Years ago, I gave up and made some from a bargain set of sheets and they still look great (well, great for everyday, I wouldn’t use them for a fancy dinner) – this is a pretty easy beginner sewing project if you happen to have a machine. Ikea used to sell some cheap cloth napkins, but the last time I checked they only had paper napkins.

  102. Sara says...

    I buy my cloth napkins from Cost Plus World Market. 6 cotton napkins for 10$ and lots of colors!

    • Jessica says...

      I was checking the comments to see if this advice had been offered. They are so inexpensive, and they wash really well. I can honestly say I would not iron my napkins even if they were super wrinkly (as my mom does!), but the CPWM ones stay pretty smooth after washing and drying.

    • Amanda says...

      Oh my gosh, these are just what I was looking for, and I love all the colors! Thanks a bunch!!

    • Laura says...

      Same here. :-)

  103. Meagan says...

    After my own maternity leave, I fine-tuned my new mama kit: 30 oz Yeti cup with a stainless steel straw (to keep next to them at all times, total lifesaver), fancy snack bar assortment, beef jerky (for when granola won’t cut it), mother’s milk tea, and the offer to come over and hold that baby anytime they need a break!

  104. Cassie says...

    I’ve gotten some really great/cheap cloth napkins from the sale section of Anthropologie that have lasted years and have the best patterns.

    Hearth and Hand at Target also has some lovely ones!

  105. Heidi's mom says...

    My favourite appetizer in peak produce season is roasted peppers topped with your favourite soft cheese and either olives, sundried tomatoes, or a bit of herbs. They look beautiful, are vegetarian and gluten-friendly, and won’t break the bank.

    My question for Jenny: What are the best meals to make with a toddler whose adventures require occasional attention during meal-prep? Basically, tell me your best dishes that I can ignore for a minute or two while I pull her hands out of the dog’s food, or stop her from jumping off the couch.

    • Angela says...

      Your second question is my life right now! holy moly!!!

  106. For cloth napkins, I use Ikea kitchen towels that come in a set of 4, OR Trader Joe’s kitchen towels that are in a set of three and are, like $4.99 or something like that. The design/texture looks great and it doesn’t break the bank.

  107. I 2nd the recommendation for bringing cut up fruit to new moms. I was happy for anything and everything that people dropped off but fruit was my fave out of everything as I craved something fresh. Another friend brought me a chopped salad from my favorite salad place for lunch one day and that was amazing, too. I loved the casseroles and frozen soups and such but something fresh and crisp tasted sooo goood!

  108. Sarah says...

    Speaking as a recent “new mom,” my favorite food that people brought to me was quiche. Loaded with vegetables and assorted protein sources, you can eat it with one hand, hot or cold, and at ANY time of day. Or, you can freeze it, but someone brought me two quiches, and I ate them both in what felt like two days.

    • Laura says...

      I completely agree with quiche! That was my favorite thing that a friend brought me postpartum for all of the reasons mentioned. A casserole is great, but I loved having something that I could eat when I woke up famished and bleary eyed from a long night. Now this is my go-to meal to bring to new parents along with cut up fruit and homemade muffins or bread. And as others have mentioned, I always send in recyclable containers so they don’t have to try to return anything to me either.

  109. Lisa says...

    My mom made orzo primavera, filling but also veggie heavy and reheats well. She also made french toast casseroles because breakfast is also hard.

  110. Katherine says...

    My go-to new parent dish is a casserole, but it’s a tater tot casserole, which can be eaten for any meal of the day! It’s so delicious, with bacon, sausage, cheese, eggs, and a base layer of tater tots. I always bring it over in a recyclable aluminum pan, so no dishes have to be cleaned/returned to me. I also bring a side of cut up fruit.

  111. Hayley says...

    But once you have those ungodly expensive cloth napkins, how do you keep them from getting stained? I have some beautiful print napkins and they now have blotchy, permanent reminders of that time we served red sauce for a dinner party. My solution has been to buy dark gray linen napkins. They’re fine, but I’d love something more jolly. Help!!

    • cg says...

      I have found that 100% cotton holds stains. Now I use a cotton-polyester blend and the stains don’t stay. Also, after it’s been used and stained, I give it a quick soapy rinse right away (or right after guests have left, rather) if I’m not throwing them into the washer immediately. I usually wash a bunch of kitchen towels and cloth napkins as one bunch, at the end of the week. That helps it not set in so much.

    • Oxyclean, baby! I soak anything with an organic stain in hot water and Oxyclean for a day or two. Wash. Hang in the sun to dry. We only use cloth napkins and this works for 95% of the stains.

  112. Sadie says...

    Cloth napkins! I’ve been using cloth napkins on the regular since I was a single-girl and used dish towels because I was always forgetting to re-stock on the paper ones at the grocery store. When I decided to upgrade from dish towels to actual cloth napkins, I got a variety of inexpensive dark ones (including those H&M linen ones), figuring that the dark color would hide stains, right? Not so much. I loved using the cloth napkins, but I hate having to fuss too much with them in the laundry. Now, I use white only. They can be tossed in with the sheets and a little bleach, no fuss. And for every-day, I just get a whole mess of super-cheap flour sack towels from amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003BS4856/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1). So, when they’re so stained that a normal hot wash with a bit of bleach isn’t cutting it, I don’t feel like it’s a waste of money to relegate them to shoe-polishing cloths. If you’ve got a baby or a toddler, toss one in your every-day bag, too, for on-the-go cleanup!

  113. Lora says...

    I was grateful for all the postpartum meals I received, pasta and casseroles included, because I just didn’t care and wanted something to eat. But I have to say my favorite meal I received was a dozen ham-cheese sliders (the kind where they toast them and there’s some sort of glaze on top) + chunks of fresh watermelon tossed with lime and salt + cookies. Simple, filling, light-ish, and easy to eat with one hand. (I did so many things one-handed in those early postpartum months!)

  114. Meghan says...

    Buy cloth napkins on Etsy! So much cheaper then through a chain, you support a small business and many vendors will work with you to design a napkin that does with your decor or the season or whatever! You save money AND stick it to the man all at once. Now that’s a win win!

    • Kristin says...

      I was just coming to share the same thing, Meghan. Etsy has the cutest napkins that are affordable. My favorite have bicycles printed on them.

  115. Mary Ann says...

    Check your thrift store for cloth napkins! I’ve had amazing luck finding basically new linen and cotton napkins for super cheap. Plus, you get the satisfaction of a stellar thrift store find.

    • Jilla says...

      I second that! So easy and cheap! I like to find white cotton cloth napkins and do a little tye-dye or shibori on ’em, then they’re one-of-a-kind designer originals! Plus it’s fun to have some vintage designs in the mix.

    • Patricia says...

      I found the cutest cloth napkins at Michaels craft store one time. Such a random, lucky find!

    • Mollie Blackwood says...

      Or Estate Sales! I bought a lot of about 12 white cloth napkins… most had never been used… for $5!

    • I agree! I only buy cloth napkins at thrift stores and I have an everyday collection and then nice dinner-party ones.

    • Lucia says...

      Yes! Often times they are still in great condition, and it is fun to mix and match patterns.

  116. Jessica says...

    A great thing to bring a new mom is lactation balls. There are numerous recipes on line which are essentially rolled oats, peanut butter, honey, flax, chopped dates, chocolate chips, etc, rolled up into bite sized balls. There a great pop of energy for a breast feeding mama, and easy to eat with one hand. Furthermore, they are very easy to make and no bake, for the non-bakers. These saved me in those early days of nonstop breastfeeding.