It’s happened to many of us—our friend, our siste, or neighbor have their first (or second) baby and after waiting a few days or weeks until we are welcomed to visit the little baby, we wonder what we can bring that is appropriate for a new mom and/or baby.

First of all, let’s put all the focus on mom. Baby is obviously super important, but that goes without saying. Honestly, baby doesn’t know which way is up, what is light or dark, really anything other than knowing whether or not a nipple is in her mouth at this point, so baby will be ok if your focus at your visit is mostly on Mom.

Mom may be doing just hunky dory or she may be falling apart. She may want to talk about this, she may not. She may look like a hot mess when she opens the door (and that’s ok!) and the house may be a disaster zone. Either way, focus on mom. Take off your shoes, wash your hands, and ideally bring something that will make her smile. Flowers are nice, and a casserole will be appreciated, but let’s raise the bar a little.

And don’t overstay your welcome. Depending on how close you are to said mom, you can offer to hold the baby while she showers or naps, or offer to cook a meal or do the dishes, and this is different for every situation.

If you are super close to the new mom, here are a few ideas for what to bring:

  1. Champagne, or her favorite wine. Yes, everyone has an opinion for whether or not moms “should” have a drink while breastfeeding. If you need some stats on that, you can visit Kelly Mom for some great advice. If you know that your friend would smile when you walk in the door holding her favorite bottle of bubbly, then do it. Let her decide what is best for her. Bring the orange juice too.

  2. Soothies Gel Pads for nursing moms. This is more of a mom (who’s been there) to mom type of gift. It would be really cute in a gift bag with a tried and true nursing bra or lactation tea. These little gel pads were a life-saver for me and I didn’t even know I needed them until someone special sent them to me.

  3. A nursing pillow or something snuggly. You know your friend. Might she need a nursing pillow? A soft robe? Slippers? Something cuddly means comfort. And we want to comfort a new mom.

  4. A funny movie or book you are confident she will enjoy. Something you two have talked about, a old movie from when you were kids, or an enjoyable parenting book that you cherished as a new mom. Try to avoid anything TOO tearjerky, she can do that on her own right now.

  5. Something to babywear. This is best if you are a lover of babywearing and have a recommendation for her. This concept can seem foreign to new moms, but will actually SAVE their lives if they know how to do it properly (I did NOT know about the benefits of a wrap as a new mom until someone recommended one to me, a wrap with a new baby is different than a carrier you would use out and about with a bigger infant or toddler). You being able to show her how to you use it is going to make all the difference. And when she gets through the 4:00-7:00pm hour with 50% less cries that night, she will thank you.

If you’re maybe not THAT close to mom but still, want to bring something special…

  1. A healthy meal. In the spring and summer, bring a fresh salad with a lot of vegetables to nourish mom as she heals and makes milk for baby. In the fall and winter, a warming, vegetable based soup. Bonus for homemade. Try not to focus on anything overloaded in dairy, onions, garlic, broccoli, or any super spicy foods. Baby will not appreciate it.

  2. Rosewater mist. Keeping in mind that food should be healthy, and anything mom and baby are exposed to should be NONTOXIC. Something with a lot of fragrance or chemicals is a big no no for nursing moms and babies. This will be so cooling and refreshing for her (when she doesn’t get to shower as often as she wants and is more exhausted than ever).

  3. Body butter, body lotion, or a scrub that she can enjoy that is just for her, not for baby. Time alone and time reminding her that she is still a woman with her own body is going to be a little harder now, and this will give her something to treat herself to when she does get that opportunity (to shower). Remember, less fragrance and chemicals is key, check out Beautycounter for safe products for both mom and baby.

  4. Something for baby. A thoughtful outfit or toy that shows you are welcoming baby into the world. Although this is mostly about what to bring mom, something for baby is sweet too. Pretty bibs, burpy cloths, soft blankets and onesies are lovely for newborns (and you can’t really have enough).

  5. A journal. A mom’s mind is on overload of gratitude, panic, love, emotions and fear. Remembering these early days (that will quickly become a blur) will someday be cherished and journaling is a wonderful way for her to document this time. Writing out her thoughts and feelings can also help with any baby blues or emotions she is struggling with.

Personally, I went through a very mature “I can do it all by myself” phase shortly before crumbling into an “I can’t do anything” phase as a new mom, so you never know what you are going to get. That being said, be prepared for Mom to reschedule or cancel at the last minute and LET IT BE. She still loves you, and you can see her again soon. She wins this one, no matter what it is.