I have a lot of trouble asking for help. I’m getting better at this but I have to work hard not to feel guilty when someone does something for me. So it’s very difficult for me to answer the question, “Do you need anything?” or “What can I bring over?” now that I’ve had a baby.
If you ask, “What can I bring you?” and your friend says, “Nothing,” don’t take her at her word.
Here are some of the most helpful things you can bring to a new mom and dad:
1. A Meal: Instead of having a baby shower or gifts, we set up a meal plan in advance with our friends who wanted to help out. A parent at my son’s school who we met recently (so she wasn’t on the meal plan) dropped off some potato leek soup and cranberry bread when Leone was just a few days old. We ate bit of it and I’m still feeling grateful for that unexpected kindness, and filled to the brim with gratitude for the meal plan. (For more about food chains, there’s a great post at “Mama is …” on this subject which you can read here.)
2. Toilet Paper: Everyone needs toilet paper. If your friend’s postpartum heinie is too sensitive and she’s using water or Tucks, her partner and other children will benefit. Bringing something practical like this will save the new family the trouble of buying it for awhile.
3. Organizational Help: A wicker basket for baby clothes and diapers; a caddy for baby care stuff; a bin for toys—or other clever organizational products—are always appreciated by overwhelmed new parents trying to keep track of baby stuff.
4. Cloth Diapers: Though using cloth diapers saves families thousands of dollars, the start-up cost of cloth can be daunting. Bring over a cloth diaper or two as a gift for the baby or buy your friend a gift certificate for cloth diapers. Even if the family doesn’t decide to use cloth exclusively, you’re helping them save money, reduce waste, and have a healthier baby.
5. A Big Bowl of Fruit: Breastfeeding uses more calories than growing a baby and nursing women tend to be ravenous. I know I am. A bowl of fruit to put on the table beside her favorite nursing chair is a perfect gift.
6. A Good Book You’ve Read Recently (or a used DVD): New moms who are up a lot at night feeding the baby and nursing a lot during the day are often grateful for the distraction of a good book (you read with one hand and hold the baby with the other) or a good movie to watch while bouncing the fussy one.
Cartoon courtesy of Heather Cushman-Dowdee