Do you have a new mom in your life? Want to know the best ways to really help out? Here are 21 ways to help a new mom in those first few months! Please note: This post contains affiliate links.
I don’t mean to sound bitter, but with my first child, I got hardly any help. Even though there are a millions ways to help a new mom, help was scarce for me.
They came, of course, to see the new baby. They looked at her, held her for a few minutes, then said, “Oh I bet you’re tired, we’ll get out of your way now.” That happened for a few weeks and then people stopped coming. An acquaintance sent one meal, and my uncle brought over Thai once, which I will remember forever. The first few weeks were all a bit of a blur, but I do vaguely remember my dad coming in and washing dishes a few times. But other than that, no one came over exclusively to help me out. Otherwise, I felt completely alone. Because I was.
It Takes a Village
When my daughter was born, I admit there were some things that I could have done differently to help myself. I was very protective and I didn’t trust a lot of people to take care of my baby. My husband and I had been married less than two years and I still didn’t know my in-laws as well as I do now. I was also very uncomfortable during the postpartum recovery period after an unexpected cesarean. (See my tips for easier c-section recovery.) I didn’t like people seeing me like that. To add to it, we lived in a tiny house and any time baby cried, my husband and I were both awake EVERY TIME. So neither of us were well-rested and we were both just very short tempered with one another. My husband had to work so I kind of went at it alone in the night.
But man, looking back, I REALLY needed some help.
In truth, I did let my pride get in the way. It said, “I can do this by myself.” Now I realize that this sort of attitude can be really damaging and backfire when you’re a new mom. I went into this hole. I was at home taking care of nothing and no one but my baby – not even myself. It was survival mode and it meant not addressing my own needs. I’m almost certain that it played a huge part in my postpartum depression. That was really hard to let go of this time around, but you’re always smarter and easier-going with your second kid. (It’s true.) Now I am super grateful that I let people help me this time – and that help has been offered.
There are a lot of ways to help a new mom.
If you are a friend, spouse, or relative of someone who is going to have a baby soon (or did recently) you don’t have to help in a way that will seem overbearing. But sometimes you do have to step in and take control so that the new mom in your life knows you are serious about helping. You know why?
Because it hurts more to feel like you have no one who cares about you and your new baby than it does to take a small ding to your pride.
You might have go in and start doing things without explicit instructions and requests, but that new mom will be grateful. Deep down she might be uncomfortable with your help, but some help is better than no help. Anyway, if you want to know how to REALLY help a new mom, I’ve got you covered. Now that I am two babies in, I know what’s really needed versus what things are silly to worry about. (I’m sorry first-time-mom, but you are going to worry about some silly things and you won’t realize it until you have a second baby.) 🙂
21 Ways to Help a New Mom (That She’ll Really Appreciate!)
1. Bring Food – But Ask About Food Preferences First
Yes, new moms need food for their families! But if you don’t already know what the family likes or need, you should ask. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, it’s important to know about food allergies. Secondly, it’s important to consider all family members (kids and significant others need to eat, too!) Moms will worry about their other kids and spouse/boyfriend ’cause that’s what they do. Third, make sure that if you’re going to chance it and bring what YOU want, it can be frozen. My husband and I ate pizza or lasagna for a week straight because it was fresh and people kept bringing it. But by the fifth day of eating the same thing (pizza and lasagna are basically the same ingredients in a different form) it can get old. Pro Tip: Never show up unannounced or without prior notice!
2. Don’t Neglect The Other Kids if There are Any
I don’t care how old the other kids are, they will get tired of the new baby getting all of the attention. My daughter is almost four and I have worried about her every step of the way since brother was born. I have asked people to remember her when they come over to visit, since it has been a hard transition for her. Seriously, some people need to be reminded that she exists when in the room with a new baby. Do something nice (like bring something small for the other kids, even a pack of gum) or offer to take the older kid(s) off of mama’s hands for a bit.
3. Offer to Go on a Grocery Run
Some grocery stores offer drive-thru style pickup for groceries, but that’s still a lot of work for a new mom. If you’re looking for ways to help a new mom, you’ll do the grocery shopping for her. That’s because getting a new baby ready to go somewhere, then getting yourself ready, is a surprisingly long, taxing process. When you are recovering from having a baby, it’s hard to move, sleep, and eat – let alone get groceries. Have her make a list or just show up with some groceries, but always ask her if there’s something specific she needs.
4. Bring Items That Are Often Overlooked
At baby showers, people love to give cute clothes and you’ll often get diapers and wipes. But there are many things that even moms don’t know they’ll want or need. For example, I couldn’t have made it few my first few weeks breastfeeding without lanolin, nipple shields, and my Boppy pillow. This time I made my life even easier by getting nursing tank tops, good nursing bras, boob hot/cold packs, and an extra set of pump parts. The point is that baby might be covered, but make sure that mom is comfortable and has what she needs too.
5. Support the Breastfeeding Mom
Breastfeeding is super difficult for some moms. It was extremely hard for me (and still is for this baby.) I even wrote a post about it. But there are many things that can encourage and help a breastfeeding mom. Bring her some of those tools (nursing pads, lanolin, supplements, and other things I mention in this post). Tell her your breastfeeding stories if you have any, too! It will help her to remember that she’s not the only one who has gone through the breastfeeding/newborn stage (and survived).
6. Don’t Forget About the Formula Feeding Mom, Too
Even if the new mom in your life is just supplementing (like me), consider bringing some formula to her. Formula is SUPER expensive and the costs add up fast. If you decide to gift some formula, make sure you know exactly what kind is being used for baby, and DON’T EVER pass judgement about how mom is feeding.
7. Diapers Are Always A Good Idea
If you’re really looking for ways to help a new mom, diapers are a safe bet. Diapers are going to be used for at least the first year, if not up to about three years. Moms need them by the CASE. (The same applies to baby wipes.) It’s always safe to gift diapers, especially sizes 1 and up. Find out what kind of diapers mom prefers (though she’ll be grateful for any brand) and send some over. This is especially helpful after the first few weeks when baby shower diapers are starting to run low or baby has moved out of newborn sizes.
8. Help Out With Doctor’s Appointments
Have you ever had to wait a ridiculous amount of time to get called back at your doctor’s office? Have you ever tried to sit in a waiting room with a crying baby and a three year old? That stuff is tough! It’s especially hard to nurse in public when you’re still figuring it out. It’s just hard to go to postpartum appointments with a baby, since you have to do uncomfortable things like get a pap smear and have your uterus checked. Offer to babysit for those appointments. It will help a ton, especially if you can save mom from having to get the kids ready to go somewhere. PRO TIP: Show up early enough for mom to take a shower and get ready if you want to go the extra mile.
9. Help With Pick Ups/Drop Offs
Having to get yourself, another child, and a new baby ready just to drop someone off/pick them up is a bitch. 😉 You mean I have to get real clothes on just to drive 10 minutes across town and drop my daughter off? So much work goes into that! Offer to do the driving so that mom doesn’t have to go through the painstaking process of getting everyone (including herself) ready to go. But if you want to help, let her know before she does all of that work. If you show up unannounced a few minutes before it’s time to go, it’s just not that helpful.
10. Show Up To Help With Getting Ready
Like I have already mentioned, getting everyone ready is often the most work. When you know there is somewhere mom or the kids (any of them) have to be, help out! Even if you aren’t the one driving! Sometimes an extra bossy person and an extra set of hands is the best thing to help. Right now if I’m stuck nursing but need my daughter to get ready for school, I just boss her around and *HOPE* that she actually does it.
11. Consider Gifting an Amazon Prime Membership
Everything is cheaper on Amazon, but beside that, it’s super convenient. If I need diapers, wipes, or formula, I can get free, two-day shipping EVERY TIME. Plus, I can automate things by subscribing to certain products and have them sent to me on autopilot. That is soooo nice for a groggy new mom.
12. If You Babysit The Other Kids, Get Them Active
Helping out with the other kids is great, but it’s even better if you exhaust them. 🙂 Especially if it’s winter and they can’t easily play outside. Bring them home ready to take a nap, watch a movie, play with Legos, or otherwise play quietly. Bonus points if you feed them a mom-approved meal before bring them home, too.
13. Do The Laundry
It doesn’t take a lot of work to start a load of laundry and walk away, but folding it and putting it away takes up mom’s precious time. Walk around the house, gather dirty clothes, and wash it. If there’s clothes to be folded, fold it and put it away. The less mom has to search for clean burp cloths in the middle of the night, the better.
14. Take Over For A Midday Nap
I have yet to actually get a midday nap, but I fantasize about them regularly. 😉 First-time moms might be able to sleep during the day if their baby is down for a nap, but moms with other kids don’t get to. I could never sleep while my three year old just did who-knows-what alone in the house. Come over to watch both kids and exile mom to the furthest, darkest room to sleep. Even if it only lasts half an hour, mom will be grateful.
15. Let Mom Take a Bath
Showers are great, but sometimes moms get two minutes of shower time. Sometimes moms don’t get help for a shower every day. (My husband is gone a lot for the military.) A bath, however, would feel like being spoiled. And new moms need that! Bonus points if you bring bath bombs and wine!
16. Cover Date Night
Dates? What are those? I don’t really know what they are, but they sure sound nice! 🙂 Parents tend to go into survival mode in the first few weeks after a new baby is born. Once they are comfortable with it, however, it’s important that they spend some time alone. Even if it’s just to go get cheesecake (super important). Taking a break from hearing a baby cry and having some adult conversation is the best.
17. Skip Sending Flowers
If you’re looking for ways to help a new mom, skip the flowers. Flowers are pretty, but they’re expensive and they get in the way. I personally don’t like getting flowers because I like them living, thank you. I also don’t want to have to worry about giving them water and cleaning up after them when they start to crumble. Spend your money on one of the other things I’ve suggested gifting instead. Plus, if you send flowers via a service, I might not make it to the door to accept them if I’m breastfeeding or pumping.
18. Hit Costco for Mom
Costco, or whatever big-box store you have. Get the basics. Toilet paper, diapers, coffee, wipes, formula, a years’ supply of chocolate, whatever. It will help mom breathe easier if those things are no longer things she has to think about (at least for awhile).
19. Deep Clean The Kitchen Floors
Y’all, my kitchen floors are sticky AF right now. I realllly want to clean them, but I also really don’t. I’m tired, and I am allergic to Swiffer wipes so I use a good ole bucket and mop to clean my floors. But that’s a lot of physical work when you’re recovering from having a baby. Sweep and mop for mom and she’ll love you forever.
20. Gift Mom a Massage (& Cover It)
Get mom a massage. Her body hurts from pregnancy, and if she’s nursing her neck and shoulders hurt too. She might feel like she can’t go to it unless someone offers to babysit. That’s your job. Make her go after she’s physically able to lay on her belly.
21. Vacuum the House
Especially if the new mom in your life had a c-section. Vacuuming is surprisingly tough work when your core has been stretched or cut into. In fact, c-section moms are prohibited from vacuuming for the first 6-8 weeks postpartum. That’s a long time to go without vacuuming, especially if mom has other kids and is having a lot of visitors. Help out at a time when mom can take the baby into another room.
So, have I given you enough ways to help a new mom? You have ZERO excuses now! 🙂 Have other ways to help a new mom? Tell me about them below!