Back in early spring, I saw some jokes about babies being made in 2020 thanks to all the sheltering going on. Lots of people took that as advice, apparently, because I now know eight couples who will be welcoming bundles of joy by the end of this year or early next. Eight!
New life is a beautiful thing, though. In the midst of this less-than-ideal year, it’s nice to see families still growing. And that includes one of my oldest friends, someone I’ve known for over 20 years and who’s expecting her first this fall. This friend of mine lives many hours away, so I wasn’t able to attend her shower this year (thanks, ‘rona), but that doesn’t stop me from sending her my favorite thing for moms-to-be: the postpartum basket.
Because those first few weeks after a baby arrives are no joke.
During my own shower five years ago, a friend gave me a “postpartum basket” and it changed the game for me. In it were items that I wouldn’t have thought about for a period of time I couldn’t have properly prepared for.
Now, this isn’t a gift you can give to just anyone. You need to have a good relationship with her and know her pretty well — well enough to hand over a basket full of personal care items, anyway. That said, it’s a great gift for your close friends and family, especially for new moms who have no idea what’s coming. Want to create a care package to ease those early weeks?
Here’s what to put in a postpartum gift basket:
- Snacks: Breastfeeding or not, mama’s going to want something to munch on when she’s inevitably woken up at 3am for a feeding session. Time loses all meaning in those early weeks, which means meals might not happen on any kind of schedule for the adults. Include some snacks in your care package: chocolate, protein bars, candy, healthy options, whatever your friend likes. If you know she’s breastfeeding, consider including some snacks or teas that help boost production.
- Comfort stuff: You know how uncomfortable those first couple years weeks are after having a baby. Throw some fuzzy slippers, cute socks, or a small throw blanket in the basket to help mom recover from the ordeal of giving birth. “Comfort” can look different to different people, of course. For instance, I’m not a big fan of bath bombs (maybe I just haven’t found the right one), but I know people who are really big fans, so when one of them had a baby recently, I included some bath bombs. Think about what helps your friend chill and include those things in the basket.
- Medical odds & ends: Okay, don’t put any Rx drugs in here, but do include a few personal care items that moms — especially new moms — might not think about in the run-up to giving birth. Example? Tucks pads. That’s hemorrhoid pads for the uninitiated. These bad boys are real-life miracles for postpartum discomfort. As a new mom, I would never have considered them, either. And now here I am, loudly proclaiming their benefits to all the land. Anyway, include some Tucks, a multipurpose cooling/heating pack, and maybe a bottle of over-the-counter stool softener just to acknowledge the challenges to come.
- Entertainment: If we lived in 1998, I’d tell you to make a mixed CD of your bestie’s favorite jams. Alas. Go ahead and do that if you’re a square, like me, and have endless amounts of time on your hands. But if not, include a few new copies of a fun magazine, a collection of short stories, a Sudoku puzzle book, or anything else in the “entertainment” category that makes sense for your friend. She won’t have much time or mental energy for something involved right away (probably), so keep it light. You could even just jot down a list of postpartum-friendly shows she can binge while breastfeeding or holding a colicky newborn in the witching hour. My favorites? Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Psych, and Parks & Rec. All easy to watch and follow (subtitles on or not).
- Personal mementos: Last but not least, make it personal. Include notes on your items explaining why you picked them, or write a letter of encouragement to the parents-to-be. Or both. Let mom know you’re on her side and that she can count on you to be there, whether it’s to hold the baby while she showers or commiserate when it’s night #4 of no sleep.
A note about the registry:
Don’t let the postpartum basket supersede a gift from the baby registry, at least not entirely. This is a personal thing for me, but I always try to get at least one thing from the baby registry to include in the basket or give separately.
We BTDT moms might know better than to register for a specific brand of swaddling blanket, but that experience — and the insistence on getting a different brand of swaddling blanket “because it’s better” — can sometimes translate as “I know better than you.” (I mean, you might, but that’s not the point.)
Parents sometimes spend a ridiculous amount of time creating a registry. (Ahem, I was one such parent.) So it’s nice to throw in something they specifically want along with the postpartum basket. And if you don’t want to get something from the registry or everyone else beat you to the items you wanted to get, consider a small gift card to Target or wherever they’re registered.
And finally, put everything in a reusable basket.
Okay, it doesn’t have to be a literal basket. But your postpartum care package will look better — and be more useful — if it’s packaged in a reusable box, tin, tub or other receptacle that the new mom can keep close by during those all-night rocking sessions.
I suggest browsing your local TJMaxx (or similar store) for cute baskets and bins. Better pricing on the basket means more of your gift budget goes to the goodies inside. Just make sure you pick something that goes with your friend’s nursery scheme or a color/pattern that fits in with her other home decor. Once the postpartum period ends, she can repurpose the basket for other storage.