How to Cook for a Family with a New Baby

This post was first published in 2011. I’ve updated it with more ideas shared by readers.

A friend of mine gave birth recently, and a few families in the community made meals for her. While it’s possible to order out nowadays, home-cooked meals are often tastier and more nutritious. Providing meals shows the family that they are cared for, and it’s a wonderful way to welcome the baby to the neighborhood. I’ll never forget the friend that called me up every week. starting in my last month of a difficult pregnancy, asking what she could cook for Sabbath dinner.

I’ve compiled some tips for making meals for families who have just given birth.

A foster mom suggests: “Perhaps add a newly adopted (or foster) child as well. The often sudden addition means the family had zero time to prepare.” Point taken!

  1. Don’t wait until after the baby. Sometimes friends make a “casserole shower,” with each guest bringing a frozen casserole for the new parents to pull out of the freezer.
  2. Make sure the meals are wanted. They could have enough food already. Don’t say, “They’ll just put it in the freezer,” because they might not have room. Remember, even after a few weeks or months life is still hectic with a baby—you can always keep the food in your freezer or offer again another time.
  3. Find out what they like to eat. Check that they don’t have allergies or other food restrictions. If you can’t accommodate, you can help in other ways (see below).
  4. Use containers that you don’t want back. You don’t necessarily have to buy disposables—try reusing a food container you already have. Wrap it well so it won’t leak.
  5. Coordinate. Do you know other people who are supporting the family? Appoint someone to offer help at different times and brainstorm for other ways to help.
  6. Label containers with your name and phone number, type of food, and instructions for heating or defrosting. And state whether or not you want the container back! If you do, arrange to pick it up.
  7. Choose foods that are ready to go. Lasagna in a foil tray is better than a container of soup that has to be reheated in a pot. A fruit platter is better than a whole watermelon. Cut-up vegetables and fresh salads are almost always welcome.
  8. Arrange a convenient time to drop off the meal. Life with a new baby is often unpredictable, so call in advance and stay only a minute unless you are sure the mom wants company.
  9. Suggest other ways to help. Support from friends and family is critical, especially in the early weeks. New parents often can’t think much past the next diaper change. An occasional phone call can help a lot, but don’t take offense if mom can’t talk. Offer to buy groceries, take older children to the park, run errands, throw a load in the machine, or make necessary phone calls.
  10. Keep an eye on the family. Sometimes a caring friend is the first one to notice that something is wrong. The addition of a baby can range from smooth to traumatic. The latter is more likely when the baby, mother, or another family member has even minor health or psychological issues, or even if the baby is particularly fussy. This article explains symptoms and treatment for postpartum depression.
  11. For breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding mothers rarely need to restrict their diets to ensure high quality milk, but breastfeeding problems can interfere with enjoyment of the new baby. Help the mother find a local La Leche League Group, or professional breastfeeding support if necessary.

Here are a few ideas for meals for new parents:

Egyptian Rice and Lentils

Chicken with Carrots, Sage and Black Lentils

Rice and Chickpea Casserole with Tomatoes

How to Make Patties from Anything and Everything

Universal Crustless Quiche

Winter Squash Quiche

Have you ever cooked for a family with a new baby? What were your favorite meals to receive? Share your tips in the comments!

You may also enjoy:

Feed Your Baby Frugally (Series)

Starting Solids the Easy Way

How to Cook with a Baby in the House

: image

Share

Sourdough Oatmeal Walnut Bread

Sourdough oatmeal bread slices

The first sourdough bread I made was from  Miriam Kresh’s recipe at Israeli Kitchen. Since then I’ve made it numerous times, especially when I am hosting a meeting or party. I’ve recently made some healthy adjustments including cutting out sugar and substituting olive oil. I often add nuts, and substitute spelt for some of the […]

Share
Continue reading...

Recipe: Unstuffed Rutabagas or Turnips

basket of rutabagas

Thanks to US reader Tanya who sent me this original recipe back in February, writing: I hope spring has come to Israel. Here we are still buried under a foot of snow and the ground is frozen hard. Rutabagas are still quietly sitting in the basement, nice and firm and ready to sustain us for […]

Share
Continue reading...

Less Is More: Review of Magimix 5200XL Food Processor

Yellow squash processed into cubes by Magimix5200XL

A few months ago, the metal chopping blade for my Magimix 5100 food processor overheated and melted for the second time. The first time, I salvaged the machine. Since I was generally happy with the machine, already my second, and the others on the market did not appear to be higher quality, I decided to […]

Share
Continue reading...

Good to the Last Drop: 10 Tips for Getting that Last Bit of Food

boy licking spatula with chocolate

In my post, Why You Should Finish Everything on Your Plate, I explain why scraping the last bits of food from the dish is more than just about saving money. A cleaner plate means less time picking out bits from the filters in your sink and dishwasher, and saves soap and water when washing. I don’t think we should teach kids to finish their food when they aren’t hungry, but we should train them to take a little less than they think they will eat until they get better at estimating quantities.

We deal with food remains when cooking and baking too: Bowls, measuring cups, jars and bottles with remnants of food. Here are my favorite techniques for getting that last bit into your recipe.

Share
Continue reading...

Whole-Wheat Pretzel Recipe

homemade pretzel children craft

Summer vacation is here and I am always looking out for fun activities. Yosefa called yesterday and suggested we do a baking project with the kids: pretzels! This recipe calls for conventional yeast but when I have more time I will attempt to make it with sourdough. The kids enjoyed kneading the dough and molding […]

Share
Continue reading...

Chicken with Carrots, Sage and Black Lentils

black lentils for chicken and sage recipe

I don’t usually cook chicken during the week but I was in a rush one day last week and had a fresh whole chicken on hand. This came out so good I had to share! The sage and the black lentils lifted the chicken onto a whole different plane. If you’ve never had black lentils, […]

Share
Continue reading...

The Story of the Melted Food Processor

Magimix food processor stem damage

If you can love an inanimate object, then I love my Magimix food processor. Intensely. It’s a useful, durable, well-designed machine.  As Norene Gilletz wrote in her classic book, The Pleasures of Your Food Processor, the virtue of a quality processor is its ability to stop when it gets overheated.  On lower-quality machines, the motor […]

Share
Continue reading...

How to Spot Insect Infestation in Dried Beans with Pictures

whole soaked bean with insect hole

A few days ago, I wrote about the reasons that beans may not get hard after cooking. Today I’ll address a different issue that also relates to beans that may have not been stored carefully: infestation. To avoid problems of infestation of grains and legumes, first follow the suggestions in my earlier post on how […]

Share
Continue reading...

Why Are My Beans Still Hard after Cooking?

Have you ever soaked and cooked a batch of beans, only to find that they never really got soft? The main reason for beans that are still hard after cooking is the quality of the beans. Drying beans preserves them for a long time, but not forever.  Even if you just got them, they may […]

Share
Continue reading...