A friend of mine gave birth recently, and a few families in the community made meals for her. While it’s usually possible to order out nowadays, home-cooked meals are usually tastier and more nutritious. Providing meals shows the family that they are cared for. It’s a wonderful way to welcome the baby to the neighborhood.
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!
- 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.
- Make sure the meals are wanted. Maybe they already have enough food. 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.
- Find out what they like to eat. Many people have allergies or other food restrictions. See below for other ways to help instead.
- Use containers that you don’t want back. You don’t necessarily have to buy disposables—try reusing a container you already have. Wrap it well so it won’t leak.
- Coordinate. Do you know other people who are supporting the family? Arrange to offer help at different times and brainstorm for other ways to help.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep an eye on the family. Sometimes a caring friend is the first one to notice that something is wrong and can arrange for more help. Often a family adjusts smoothly to a new baby, but the transition can also be traumatic, especially if the baby, mother, or another family member has even minor health issues. This article explains symptoms and treatment for postpartum depression.
- For breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding mothers rarely need to restrict their diets to ensure high quality milk. 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:
Have you ever cooked for a family with a new baby? Share your tips in the comments!
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