When each of my girls was born, the steady delivery of meals was an enormous help. I couldn’t figure out how to breastfeed, much less feed myself, so the food friends brought nourished me in a way I deeply needed. In addition, their visits proved to be a much-appreciated and reliable contact with the regular adult world whose primary concern was not how many wet diapers the baby has had today. So if you’re considering making meals for new moms, I say to you: DO IT.
Since my big girls are no longer babies, I’ve had the opportunity to pay everyone’s kindness forward. I’ve brought quite a few meals for new moms and their families, and in the process I’ve learned a lot about what to do—and what not to do—when delivering meals to new moms.
So if you’ve signed up for a meal train, YOU ARE AWESOME. Know that by making a meal (or bringing takeout—that’s totally not cheating!), you are showing this new mama that she is loved, supported, cared for—and that her village will help lift her up as she undertakes the most monumental change of her life.
She is a new mom, and you are helping her become the best mother she can be.
(And that’s a big deal.)
If you’re not quite sure what to bring or what to do, though, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to making meals for new moms, I share these 12 tips to help you make life easier for the family more focused on umbilical cord scabs than dinnertime.
12 tips to make the best meals for new moms
- Consider nutrition. This may sound like a “duh,” but I ate so many cheese-and-pasta dishes after giving birth that I thought I’d turn into a parmesan-penne mom. So before you sign up to bring a new mom an alfredo dish, think about the nutrients she needs—protein to repair tissue damage (especially if she had a c-section), healthy fats like avocado to keep her full, water-rich foods to hydrate her (especially if she’s breastfeeding) and lots of fiber to, ah, keep things moving.
- Pick a freezable recipe. Despite best intentions of spacing out delivered meals, sometimes families are overwhelmed with a fridge full of food they can’t finish before it goes bad. So consider making meals for new moms that freeze well so they can save some for later.
- Pack food in recyclable containers. If you bring enchiladas in a legit Pyrex pan, you’ll never see it again. (New moms don’t have time to brush their hair, so forget about them keeping track of who brought which casserole dish.) Bring meals for new moms in Dollar Store tupperware or clean yogurt containers instead.
- Ask about dietary restrictions. Most meal train sign-ups include info on what family members can’t eat or don’t like, so pay attention. In fact, I tend to make meals that don’t include dairy, soy or spicy ingredients—the first two are common allergens among breastfeeding babies, and the latter can upset babies’ tummies.
- Don’t limit yourself to dinner. A friend brought me a bag of pre-made burritos after Peeper was born, and let me tell you I depended on those egg-and-cheese miracles many a bleary morning.
- Include instructions. If you’re not delivering meals for new moms that are hot and ready to eat immediately, write a note listing each dish and how to finish prepping it (even if that’s just how long to bake it at what temperature). Sleep deprivation does not lead to effective improvisation.
- Come during the day. Unless new parents specifically ask you to bring the meal at dinnertime, consider dropping off food during the day. Babies tend to be crankier in the evening (aka the witching hour) and everyone may be more relaxed during the day.
- Sign up for a later date. Friends and family swarm families with a brand-new baby. The attention can be a little overwhelming, and it leads to big gaps a few weeks after the munchkin’s arrival—which is the perfect time for you to bring a meal!
- Prep everything. If your tacos should be garnished with a squirt of lime, quarter those limes. If you’re bringing a salad, make sure the lettuce is washed. New parents don’t have the energy or time to cook; that’s why you’re bringing them a 100% complete meal!
- Drop and run. Be mindful of how long you stay—shorter is better. In fact, if the baby is fussy or mom is trying to nap, just leave the food in the fridge and leave. The new mom will have time to tell you her birth story later.
- Do something useful. While you’re at the new family’s house, load their dishwasher or walk their dog. And take the trash out when you leave.
- Bring caffeine. When you’re on your way, text to ask if Mom would like some coffee. (Chances are, she does.) Hit up a Starbucks drivethru and bring her a latte—she may just promise you her nextborn.
Do you have any tips for making meals for new moms? Please share!