20+ Things You Can Do To Help A New Mother
Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
Photography by Molly DeCoudreaux
Welcoming a new baby into your life is one of the most intense experiences any woman can go through. And, as they say, it really does take a village to raise a child…or, more specifically, to support parents while they raise their child. So, what can you do as a member of that village to pitch in? We’ve outlined over 20 super easy tasks that’ll elevate you to Friend of the Year status in no time—including helping new parents by delivering must-have postpartum essentials and other needs. New moms (and dads), we suggest you email this sucker around, tweet it out, or post it on your Facebook wall…and let it do the talking for you.
1. Drop off food. New parents are way too busy (and exhausted) to ponder what they’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Help them out by dropping a meal on the doorstep, text that the grub is there (don’t ring the doorbell), and be prepared to go along with your day. If you get to see the baby or parents, bonus! Don’t worry, your normal hangout sessions will continue after a few months.
2. Organize others to drop off food. Mealtrain.com is a fantastic and easy way for a bunch of friends to pitch in and make sure the new parents are being fed during those hectic early days and months. The leader of the mealtrain can provide participants with a list of favorite foods, restaurants to order from (and specific orders), and grocery store staples. Look to get the new mama and papa a combination of healthy meals (including homemade options), one-hand snacks (who has two hands these days?!), and a few indulgent choices in there, too. (Sure, she might be on an eventual quest to loose those baby pounds, but no one doesn’t want freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies.)
3. Offer to run some errands for her. Does she need unglamorous stuff like nursing pads and diapers? Offer to grab it for her. Is her car low on gas? Fill it up for her. Also, if you find yourself near her neighborhood, a quick text to see if she needs anything is always appreciated. If you’re too busy, think about hiring her a TaskRabbit.
4. Offer to run some errands with her. That’s right, some moms would rather pour over all of the nipple cream possibilities instead of having a friend take their best guess. In these cases, offer to scoop the mom and baby up, and tend to the kid while your friend tries on nursing bras at Target or finds whatever else she might need.
5. Mind the conversation. While your new mom friend is still essentially the same person, she’s had a bit of a priority shift. Just be mindful that she might be more interested in discussing breastfeeding, diaper rash, sleep training, and other baby minutia for the first few months than your personal issues. Although, perhaps talking about the happenings in your life might feel like a welcome escape for her, just feel it out. And try not to take offense if it’s the former scenario.
6. Ask what you can do to be helpful. If the mom can’t come up with anything, look around the house and suggest some stuff. Can you fold some laundry? Wipe down the bathroom counter? Empty and refill the dishwasher? (Just please don’t ask her where every dish goes. Try to figure it out yourself.) If you’re not into cleaning and are feeling especially generous, offer to pay a housecleaner for an hour.
7. Help her figure out her new contraptions. Baby stuff can be complicated. Sometimes it requires watching YouTube videos and reading instruction manuals, all while trying to shush a wailing baby. With that in mind, ask the new mom if she needs help figuring out any of these new products, from a baby sling to a bouncer.
8. Pamper her. Trust, her body is all kinds of effed-up after having a baby (and now carrying it around all day long). Either offer to babysit so that mom can get a massage, haircut, or mani/pedi. Or, if she’d rather keep the baby close, offer to take her to the venue and watch the baby while she’s getting primped or rubbed down.
9. Don’t stay too long. (Unless you’re watching the baby while mom sleeps…then stay forever!) But, seriously, keeping a long, coherent conversation and having a high-quality hang sesh with a new mom is probably not happening these days. Don’t take it personally. It’s just temporary. She still loves you, she just doesn’t have the bandwidth to socialize like she used to.
10. Take the big kids off her hands. If your new mom friend already has another kid, offer to entertain the oldest one(s) and let mom and dad spend some solo time with the newest addition.
11. Help with the Thank You notes. Oh Thank You notes. They’re the bane of every new mom’s existence. She’s likely received a million gifts and kind gestures, and she’s likely way behind on formally sharing her appreciation for them. First things first, tell the new mom that she doesn’t need to send you a Thank You note. It’s a huge relief. Then ask her if she needs help with the others. Maybe she needs stamps stuck on envelopes? Or addresses scrawled on the front? Maybe you can help her figure out an e-card alternative? Or maybe you can just hold the baby while she is finishing them up herself.
12. Wash your hands before holding the baby (without mom having to ask). Also, don’t necessarily expect to hold the baby when you visit. A lot of new parents are super germ-conscious, and rightfully so.
13. Get her out of the house. And plan the nearby, totally manageable, baby-friendly adventure yourself (she probably doesn’t have the bandwidth). Keep it short and simple. It can even be a walk around the neighborhood. She’ll appreciate a change in setting.
14. Document the new family. It’s all too often that there are lots of pictures of mom holding the baby or dad holding the baby, but rarely of the two partners together. How about offering to grab a fancy camera (or an iPhone) and snap some family pics? If you can hold the baby for a second while mom can slap on some lipstick, that’s also appreciated.
15. Don’t freak out when the baby cries. New babies cry. It’s just what they do. It’s something that the new mom (and her friends) just need to accept. Getting all flustered about it and asking 20 questions as to why it’s happening is just going to fan the flames on the situation. Stay calm and let mom figure it out.
16. Ask if she has a to-do list she needs some help with. Everything from buying pacifiers to calling a lactation consultant is something you can help her tackle while you’re there, either by holding the baby while she handles things, or just doing them for her.
17. Offer to do a night shift or two. That is, if everyone is comfortable enough with the arrangement. Delivering the baby into mom’s arms for nursing or feeding the baby a bottle during the night is an incredibly kind gesture.
18. Load up her Netflix and DVR with good shows. Feeding a newborn every couple of hours leads to lots of TV time. Make sure she has choices other than Reba reruns.
19. When in doubt, bring diapers. One can never have enough diapers. Or wipes. Just ask what size is appropriate first.
20. Shower her and the baby with compliments. Seriously…have you ever seen a baby this cute?! Or a mama this glow-y?!
21. Don’t just focus on the baby. With the attention of everyone so squarely on the baby, sometimes the amazingness of the new mom gets lost in the shuffle. Gifting her with a great pair of button-down PJ’s, a bouquet of flowers, or throwing her a low-key potluck with her best girlfriends can all help her feel appreciated and special.
22. Keep the help comin’. Even though it gets easier as time goes on, motherhood is never really that easy. So, even when the newborn stage is over, the help of friends (and pretty much all of the tasks above) are still really incredible. She—and good karma—will eventually pay you back.
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