When visiting a friend who’s recently had a baby, you want to bring not only a lovely gift, but a gift that will be thankfully received as a blessing and a help. It’s hard to know what will be the perfect present, but here are ten ideas for the next time you’re facing this dilemma:
A hospital survival kit
My Mother’s Group put one of these together for me after the birth of my second child, and it was the most appreciated gift I received. Inside was a selection of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks (wonderful as the hospital food was AWFUL and since I had a baby in the nursery to start with, I always seemed to miss the meal service), fizzy water and some trashy magazines (loved these during those quiet hours when baby slept – seriously newborns sleep LOTS and there’s only so much blissful gazing one can manage).
Not too imaginative, but this should be only EVERY list for new mums. I try to avoid anything that needs two hands to eat (spiral pasta or ravioli is good, lasagne is destined to go cold while a new mum is busy feeding!) and bring a slice that will last a while so she can offer it to guests who drop in if she wants.
On the same page, a cleaner service, for a thorough clean during the first few weeks is a godsend for a new mum. Most of the national agency chains have gift voucher options. Alternatively, if money is tight, you could make a gift voucher and schedule a time to do the cleaning yourself.
Especially for the mum of a second or more child. Without that baby shower to stock the shelves with super-soft new baby towels, that baby is destined for hand-me-downs otherwise!
Lotions and Lip balm
Something nicely scented and indulgent for the new mum will be warmly received, if everyone else is spoiling the new arrival and forgetting who did all the hard work.
If you know the mum is planning to breastfeed, lactation cookies are a yummy way to show your support. Made with oats, flaxseed meal and brewer’s yeast, these can give milk supply a boost. The batter can also be frozen in a log so the mum can bake additional batches easily at home – and the great news is that they taste delicious too.
If you’re looking for a practical gift that will definitely be used, how about baby products? Mums will always need nappies, wipes and barrier creams, and the friend who gives a new mum an infant thermometer and Baby Panadol will always be mentally thanked after the first middle-of-the-night fever.
New parents find themselves watching TV at very odd hours and an on-demand service is a sanity saver at 4am when there’s only infomercials and 1980s cop shows on free TV.
This one depends on how well you know the parents and how comfortable you are with newborns. Make up coupons for an afternoon or even an hour that you’ll be at their disposal. Suggest the mum can nap, run errands, do her housework or take a bath, or even just go on a walk for a coffee and fresh air with her partner. There are great printables to be found on the net if you’re not the creative type.
For a close friend or family member, a hand-stamped necklace or bracelet with baby’s name or initials will be treasured. Speak to a jeweller before the birth to order, especially if you know the name the parents have picked.
Whether you come bearing gifts or not, remember the golden rules of visiting a new mum – call first, offer to bring anything she needs , tell her she’s beautiful, cuddle the baby and keep your visit short. Remember that new mums need emotional and physical support over those first few months. Keep in touch and you’ll be remembered for your help and thoughtfulness.
Lynn Jackson is a mother of three, a wife of one and a teacher of many. Living in her hometown of Adelaide after many years travelling and teaching abroad, she attempts to find time for her passions of photography, reading, writing and skinny lattes with friends.