After each of my four babies was born, my family was blessed by the generosity of friends who brought us meals. The chores of meal planning and preparation loom large above the heads of new moms who are already sleep-deprived, bodies exhausted from giving birth, and minds tired from trying to adjust to the addition of a new family member. After my first baby was born, I had such terrible postpartum anxiety, I could hardly remember to feed myself. My poor mother who was visiting to help me nearly starved!
If you have a friend or family member who’s recently had a new baby, bringing a meal for the new mom is a wonderful way to show your support. Be sure to consider these seven tips as you decide what to prepare and how and when to deliver the meal to the new mom.
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Think outside of dinner.
While a nice hot dinner would surely make any new mom happy, you could go a step further. Think about bringing along some food for breakfast, such as an egg casserole that she can toss in the oven or easy-to-grab muffins or granola bars. You could also pick up some snacks for the kids or the nursing mom, such as lactation cookies or Milkmaid Tea. Fresh fruit is another option — after my first baby was born, I remember absolutely relishing chocolate-covered strawberries a friend sent to my home.
Make the meal for the new mom as easy as possible.
Everything you bring should be ready to eat and require minimal effort on the part of the new mom. As Cambria from thekitchn.com writes, ”There should be no prep of any kind required to eat what you’ve brought — no cooking (obviously), but also no chopping, no mixing, no supplementing with what they might or might not have.” Bring a full meal with sides and fixings so she does not have to figure out what to serve with it. Make sure it’s in a disposable container so that she does not have to worry about washing dishes or returning anything to you, and you might even throw in some paper plates.
Find out about preferences and allergies.
The last thing you want to do is to bring food that someone (or no one) in the family can eat due to allergies or dietary preferences. If you are participating in a meal train (and if there isn’t one, start one!), the organizer will likely have listed any restrictions on the website. You could also reach out to mutual friends or family, or directly to the new mom herself. When in doubt, separate common potential allergens (such as nuts and cheese) and send them on the side, or opt for a gluten-free meal.
Keep family size in mind when planning your meal for the new mom.
Are you bringing a meal to a mom who just had her fourth baby and has three other little mouths to feed? Be sure to opt for a meal large enough to feed the whole family, and acceptable to the pickiest of eaters. On the other hand, if it’s just the new mom and her partner or a toddler, sending too large of a prepared meal can actually be a bit inconvenient. Break a large casserole into smaller portions so they can freeze some for later, or send several nights of crockpot meals instead of one large meal.
Don’t bring what everyone else is bringing.
As nice as homecooked delivered meals are, new moms aren’t likely able to eat night after night of chicken noodle casserole or spaghetti bake without growing weary. Get a sense of what others are bringing and try to break the mold. If you are participating in a meal train, other meal-givers will likely have identified the meals they are bringing, so choose a different type of food.
Or, to change things up a bit:
- ask for the new mom’s order from a favorite restaurant and pick it up on your way over,
- provide a gift card to a grocery delivery service such as Shipt or a local grocery store that offers curbside pickup (and pick it up for her!),
- or give a gift card to a favorite local eatery that offers delivery.
Schedule a convenient time to drop off the meal to the new mom.
Meal trains can provide information about how to optimize the usefulness of your meal delivery for the new mom. If you can, try to separate yourself from the other meal-givers on the train. If someone is bringing dinner the night before, you could bring breakfast. Sign up after a gap of a few days to be sure she is not having to stockpile leftovers. Or, consider bringing her a meal after the meal train is over! Meal trains often only last the first few weeks, but I promise meals are just as appreciated beyond that time frame. Beyond the date of the delivery, also consider the time of day. Text the new mom to confirm she’ll be home when you drop off (so that you don’t leave food sitting outside all day). If you’re not dropping off at dinnertime, be sure the food you bring could easily be stored and eaten later.
Go the extra mile.
Dropping off a meal is an amazing gift to a new mom, but you could go a step beyond. Ask what she’d like from Starbucks or needs from the store and pick it up on the way. Bring a little gift for the baby — something that was left on her registry or that you know from experience she could likely use. Firmly offer some help around the house. If you just ask what she needs, she may not be direct, but if you say, “I’d like to wash up some dishes while I’m over,” or, “I’d love to help with your toddler’s bedtime tonight,” you may as well show up with a superhero cape on. If it’s a good friend, a mom I know recommended taking a load of her laundry home, washing and folding it, and bringing it back that night!
Ready to make a new mom’s day? She will be so glad to receive the gift of your meal. What other suggestions do you have for delivering a meal to a new mom?