When you’re sick, overwhelmed or newly postpartum, there are few things as comforting as food. When someone drops off a meal, it’s like a life raft in a sea of exhaustion and a reminder that you’re not alone. So what to bring a new mom, new parents or someone who’s ill? In a recent informal Instagram survey asking that question, a few conflicting opinions and several consistent themes emerged. Here’s a look at the results.
It’s a time-honored tradition to bring meals to new parents or people who need support. In fact, the idea is the main subject of The First Forty Days (affiliate link), a book Mother Mag says is geared especially towards the healing postpartum period for new moms. According to the review, this book incorporates “the wisdom … in which a new mother is pampered and cared for, sometimes isolated from the distractions of the outside world, so she can solely focus on rest and recovery for herself and the new baby.”
No matter what you decide about what to bring a new mom, bringing over some sort of meal is usually a welcome favor. Why? As one Instagram respondent said this week, “That postpartum period is HARD. All the hormones, the recovery, still getting to know your little one–it’s a lot. And having someone take care of this need for you means so much.”
So What to Bring a New Mom Is the Question
In an informal Instagram survey on Tuesday, 92 percent of respondents said they had given or received a meal delivery at some point. Of those respondents, 32 individuals privately messaged in feedback about what to bring a new mom, from gifts that were especially helpful to those that weren’t. Some of the questions that came up include:
- Should you ask what the recipient likes first, or should you just show up?
- Is the idea of making someone a meal intimidating to many people?
- Is there anything that’s especially helpful to a new mom?
- What should you avoid when bringing a new mom a meal?
- Do moms welcome anything at all? Is any delivery wonderful?
While some responses matched information you could find in other “what to bring new moms” articles online, others were surprising. Here are a few key takeaways, with a summarizing infographic at the end.
Tip 1: Always ask about preferences.
In today’s world of allergies, intolerances, dietary restrictions and preferences, bringing a new mom a meal can be tricky. Perhaps that’s why almost half of survey respondents (44 percent) said they found the idea of bringing someone a meal intimidating. As much as you want to help a new mom, you don’t want to accidentally give her food that makes her sick or, worse, hurts her nursing baby that’s got a dairy intolerance or colicky baby that’s fussier with certain foods. So while some experts recommend leaving the mom alone (“She doesn’t have time to text you!”), you’re actually safer asking her or, if you’re hesitant to bother her, someone who’s with her at home, to find out what she can and can’t have. Given that four out of 10 survey respondents would prefer not to get just “anything,” it’s worthwhile to ask.
Tip 2: The more convenient, the better.
Many respondents emphasized the joy of getting disposable plates that they wouldn’t have to wash when they were done. Also welcome were freezable meals like enchiladas or baked pasta: if you bring the meal frozen, it’s ready to bake that day or another day, depending on how the mom’s current meal stash is going. For families with multiple children, meals that can be deconstructed like salads with components all separated or make-your-own taco meals are great. Essentially, the bottom line is to think about the mom you’re serving and, as much as you can, make the meal work for her.
Tip 3: More food is usually good (new moms are hungry).
Bringing a mom a meal is wonderful, but many people also recommended bringing little extras when you’re able. An easy breakfast for the next day, a tray of dessert, a box of Larabars: all of these easy-to-eat, one-handed snacks made moms smile. Other suggestions included coffee, fresh fruit, a couple of boxes of soup for later, granola bars, brownies or even fresh and leafy salads.
The Bottom Line
When you bring someone you care about a meal when he or she is hurting, overwhelmed or caring for a new baby, you’re doing a wonderful service. Whether you drop off takeout, make a four-course meal or bring groceries for a few days, you’re lightening someone’s load and communicating care. According to this survey, 60 percent of people would appreciate anything you bring them, so, if you’re intimidated, don’t be. Ask about preferences, make the meal convenient and throw in some extras–you can bet you’ll make any new mom’s day.
This post is the first in a series of posts about new-mom meals. If you have more feedback on what to bring new moms, please get in touch on the Contact page!