Friends visiting a new mom, bringing gifts and balloons
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What To Bring A New Mom When You Visit

Hint: Flowers are not the answer.

Originally Published: 
The New Parents Issue

When trying to decide what to bring a new mother, whether she’s still in the hospital or at home, it’s easy to default something cute for the newborn. Tiny baby clothes and cuddly stuffed animals are adorable and fun to pick out, so who can blame you for going that route? But here’s the thing: A lot of visitors are so excited to meet the new baby that they kind of forget about the person who just gave birth. And that person could probably use the extra attention and love. New mothers have a ton on their plates, and there are a lot of other things they need besides another cute onesie.

The best thing to do is pick out a gift that is genuinely useful for the parents. I recently welcomed my second daughter, and after two rounds of newborn visits, I’ve learned what is helpful and what definitely isn’t. For example, don’t bring flowers. They might be beautiful, but trust me, new parents don’t have time to worry about keeping one more thing alive (let alone cutting the stems or finding you a clean vase when you walk in the door). Consider one of the options below, and know that you’ll be making a new mother extremely grateful.

Food Items To Bring A New Mom

You know what new moms need more than pretty much anything right now? Sleep. But convenient food options are a close second. This is especially true if there are other kids in the house. Taking care of a family means that you often put yourself on the back burner, and that means skipped meals. Gift them something to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Food Delivery Gift Card: A gift card to something like DoorDash or Grubhub is super easy to pick up and offers so much convenience and flexibility. If you’re not sure about takeout, you can also get a gift card to something like Instacart or a local grocery store that offers delivery. A gift card to their favorite restaurant, whether it’s used for a future date night or a takeout order, will also be appreciated.

A Cooked Meal: Bring lunch or dinner for mom to heat up later. You can prepare something yourself or pick the food up from a place they like. Just make sure it’s something they enjoy, and ask first if you’re not positive, especially if there are allergies in the house or dietary restrictions. If there are other children in the house, be sure to pick them up a meal, too, so mom can actually relax.

A Bag Of Groceries: In the first few weeks after bringing my daughter home, I consistently paid more for groceries because I was ordering them through Instacart. I just didn’t have the time to go to the store myself. When my own mom brought over a bag of groceries, it was a lifesaver. Ask what they need you to pick up before you go, or just choose some basics. If you do ask, phrase it this way: “I’m at the store buying groceries. What do you need?” (If you text: “Do you want me to pick something up,” the answer may well be a self-sacrificing “no.”)

Coffee/Treat: Yes, new moms are exactly as exhausted as you would think they would be. They need all the coffee they can get. Giving them a Starbucks gift card, extra pods or coffee for their machine, or simply a hot cup of coffee can be really thoughtful. If they aren’t coffee drinkers, ask if they want a milkshake or a doughnut from their favorite breakfast place — think about some little treat they’d love to enjoy without having to go get it themselves.

A Freezer Meal: Freezer meals are so great for new parents because they make a home-cooked meal a quick and easy option. Something like a large lasagna or a soup that they can take out as needed will come in handy multiple times.

Lactation Cookies: If they’re breastfeeding or pumping, lactation cookies are a nice treat. Some women find them to be helpful when it comes to keeping up their supply, but even if they don’t do anything, they still taste good and usually pack a nutritional punch that postpartum women could use. You can make your own by following a recipe like this one from How Sweet Eats, or you can buy a package — Munchkin Milkmakers are great.


Gifts To Bring Mom

There’s nothing wrong with buying a cute gift for the baby, but it’s really nice to also pair that with something specifically for mom. (For example: My cousins got me baby clothes and Starbucks gift cards. A win all around!) New moms often get kind of cast aside as their visitors focus mainly on their new bundle of joy, and the postpartum period can feel really isolating. One thing to keep in mind: While self-care gifts such as face masks or books are nice in theory, many new moms just don’t really have the time for those kinds of items right now.

Amazon/Target Gift Card: There is almost nothing new moms need that they can’t get from either Amazon or Target, which is why gift cards to these stores are the best. They can buy something for themselves, food, or something they need for the baby.

Loungewear: Trust me in that the months after having a baby, you basically live in loungewear. Comfy sweats, a sweatshirt, or a cute nursing top can go a very long way. Pick something cute enough to wear around others and cozy enough to sleep in.

Soap & Hand Moisturizer: Personally, my hands have never been as dry as they have been since I gave birth to my second daughter. Aside from scrubbing my hands any time I come in from outside the house, I also spend countless moments of each day hand-washing bottles and breast pump parts. I’m going through both soap and hand lotion like crazy. Anything new will be very much appreciated.

Dry Shampoo: It sounds cliche, but honestly, new moms very rarely have time to shower, let alone wash their hair. A great dry shampoo can go far, and they may already be running low. I highly recommend Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, which actually cleans hair while cutting down on grease.

Insulated Coffee Mug: Babies are demanding, and holding and feeding them while trying to drink coffee can be impossible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made a cup of coffee, only to end up drinking it cold later on. The Yeti Rambler Mug is a great option because not only does it keep your coffee hot, but it also has a lid to keep it from spilling easily and a handle to make multi-tasking slightly more simple.

Things To Bring For The Baby

There probably isn’t much a new mom needs for her little one by the time the baby arrives. She has spent months stocking up on the things she wants for her child, so most things you bring for baby aren’t totally necessary. (That’s not to say they’re not thoughtful!) Things like toys or teethers aren’t going to be something baby will use for months, and stuffed animals will likely just add to the clutter since newborns don’t care about them. If you want to buy something cute because you just can’t resist, go for it! But, again, pairing it with something useful is best.

Diapers & Wipes: This is obviously a big one. Even parents who have worked hard to create a stockpile of diapers will need more at some point. Bring over a pack of any size because even if they can’t use them right away, they’ll need them eventually. And a package of wipes is always a nice gesture as well because these are another thing you go through very fast.

Burp Cloths: One of the things that surprised me the most when I had my first daughter was how many burp cloths I would go through on a daily basis. These can be cute to pick out and are a huge help.

Easy-To-Put-On Footie Pajamas: Yes, dressing tiny babies in adorable outfits is fun, but in those first few months, the only convenient outfit is a one-piece footie. The rest is all just kind of annoying to deal with on a wiggling baby who constantly needs to be changed. Look for footies with double zippers, which make it easy to change their diaper without getting them naked — Just One You by Carter’s for Target has a lot of these, and they’re priced well.

Baby Clothes In Bigger Sizes: With both of my daughters, I noticed that I had been gifted a tremendous quantity of 0-3 month and 3-month clothing, but much less of anything older. People tend to buy the tiniest clothes as gifts because they’re the cutest to look at, and I get it! But when 9 or 18 months rolls around, and mom already has some clothes waiting, she’ll be thrilled. Be sure to think about what the season will be when the baby is, say, 9 months old — don’t buy them summer clothes if they’ll reach that age in January.

Formula: If you know a baby is drinking formula, ask what brand they prefer, then bring some over. The price of formula adds up quickly, and babies need a whole lot of it.

Toys For Siblings: Don’t forget about any siblings, especially if they’re young! Try to get them things that will actually occupy them, not something that will make mom’s life harder — washable crayons and coloring books can be great, or a toy that doesn’t require a lot of assembly.

Things To Do For Mom

Now, obviously, there is so much more to your visit than just a gift, so if you didn’t buy something or don’t have the money to, just offer help in any way you can. Instead of saying, “Do you need anything?” before you come over, ask for specifics. Say, “What kind of coffee do you want?” or “I’m making something for us to eat. Do you like muffins or cookies better?” When you get there, instead of offering to hold the baby so they can get things done (a lot of new moms will feel uncomfortable with this), offer to wash the dishes, go to the grocery store, or do a load of laundry. And be insistent! They might tell you no to be polite, even if they really need the help.

(And of course, if they want you to hold the baby so they can take a nap and have a hot shower, then be ready to snuggle and fix a bottle.)

The goal is to offer something helpful so that your visit makes their day better, not harder. Don’t expect them to have a whole brunch ready for you and to be your photographer as you pose with their new baby. New moms have a lot going on, and doing any of these above things will show them you’re there for them, no matter what.

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