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14 ways to *really* help a new mom

As a society, we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to supporting new mothers, so it's normal to feel a bit at a loss.

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There is nothing more exciting than when a new baby joins your family or circle of friends. That squishy newborn goodness is the best.

But you clicked on this article, which means that you know the real star of the show is not the baby, but the mom who gave birth to or adopted that baby. (You're awesome for that, by the way).

You probably desperately want to help her—but aren't sure exactly how. As a society, we still have a lot of work to do when it comes to supporting new mothers, so it's normal to feel a bit at a loss.

I asked the awesome mamas of #TeamMotherly to share the acts that really helped them when they were in that vulnerable fourth trimester. First, please make sure you read our 10 crucial rules for visiting a newborn.

Then, here are our 14 ways to really help a new mom:

1. Help her sleep

"When my first was about a week old, my parents came over and forced my husband and me to go take a nap. We slept for three hours, and it was life-changing."

Sleep is so. hard. to come by during those first weeks of parenthood—so help a new mama find it. This is especially true if you are close to her—read: someone she will trust to take care of the baby while she sleeps.

2. Hire a cleaning crew

"My mother-in-law offered to hire a cleaning crew to come by before we got home from the hospital with the baby. Walking into a clean, fresh-smelling home instantly made me relax."

The fourth trimester should be a time of cozy cocooning with the new baby, and this is so much nicer to do when her surroundings are tidy. Always get her permission and then hire a cleaning service to come over and get everything in pristine order for her.

This is a great group gift, too—ask everyone in your circle of friends to chip in a little bit.

3. Pop in an do something helpful

"A friend would come over sporadically and load my dishwasher, bring me food, and hold the baby so I could shower. She did that about two or three times a week for the first month."

"My friend would call about once a week and say, 'Hey! I'm getting bagels and coffee down the street from you. Is now a good time to stop in and bring you breakfast?'"

If you are at the "pop-in" level of friendship, make little trips to see her and do something nice.

4. Chip in for a postpartum doula or night nurse

"I had a postpartum doula for my second birth...I don't think that people know enough about them and what they do. I ended up having a lot of complications and [was] put back in the hospital multiple times and could not have done it without her caring for me."

"My sister paid for two nights of an overnight baby nurse for us. We'd found a lovely woman and paid for a night or two on our own but decided it was a luxury that was out of budget at the time. Having that extra sleep and support was way better than any product gift we could've gotten."

Postpartum doulas and baby nurses are professional, trained experts who specialize in caring for women and babies after birth. Postpartum doulas are more focused on taking care of the mom, while baby nurses are there mostly for the baby. Ask her which she might prefer and then see if you can get a group of friends or family members to chip in.

Pro-tip: Many doulas and nurses have the ability to add their services to a registry, so definitely reach out and ask.

5. Help her go on a date night

"My mom came over like maybe four or five months after he was born and was like, 'you guys need a date night.' She gave us money and told us she made reservations and this restaurant I liked down the street from our apartment—I burst into tears. And when we came home, she said she was going to take care of the baby the whole night so we could sleep."

The postpartum period can be stressful for relationships, and it can be easy for new parents to feel disconnected. If the new mama is in a relationship, provide childcare (and maybe a gift card), so she can go on a date and rekindle some pre-baby flames.

If she's single, do the same thing so she can go out on a date or with her friends!

6. Bring. Food.

"A friend dropped off a fully prepped dinner—lasagna with Sharpie [written instructions] on the container that said '350 for an hour' or something, so it was foolproof, plus a salad and pre-chopped veggies, so all we had to do was heat and eat."

"A friend baked and left on my doorstep oatmeal and raisin cookies to my boost milk supply (these made memorably tasty 2 am nursing snacks!)."

Food is never the wrong thing during the fourth trimester (or ever, really). Make sure you know about any allergies or dietary restrictions and then help her heal by bringing deliciously nourishing no-fuss meals.

Psst: Need inspiration? Here are 12 nutritious foods to eat in the first month after childbirth.

Speaking of food…

7. Organize a meal train

"Someone organized a meal train for us, and it was awesome. I didn't even request it, and it was so appreciated for baby number two."

A wildly popular and loved service called meal train will allow you to organize a steady stream of food and other helpful acts all online. This is an excellent option for a new mom without family nearby. It truly does take a village—a meal train helps you create that village instantly.

8. Help her plan for future meals

"My parents stocked our fridge."

Again with the food. Fully cooked meals are great, but so is a fridge full of snacks and easy to prep meals.

Pro-tip: If you don't live close enough to do the grocery shopping, consider a gift card for a grocery delivery service like Amazon Fresh or InstaCart.

9. Spend time with her

"My closest girlfriends came over a few weeks after our second child was born. They brought trays of food and we just had a quiet cozy night together. They also helped clean up. We even Facetimed in our friend who lives in Oregon."

So many people want to see the baby (and we don't blame them!), but please don't forget that the new mama also needs love and attention. Go over to hang out with her. This is especially helpful a few weeks after the baby is born when people are calling less frequently and that postpartum isolation really sets in.

10. Send encouragement

"A friend sent a postcard in the mail with the words 'you're an awesome mother, and you're doing a great job!' It arrived on a day where I was not feeling so awesome and turned the whole day around for me."

Self-doubt is, unfortunately, a powerful force when you are a new mom. So send her little notes (or texts!) to remind her that she is doing a good job. It may seem simple, but it could make all the difference.

11. Help with pets

"My friend walked my dogs. Very appreciated."

Yes, she's a mom to a human baby now, but she may also still be a mom to the furry kind of baby. Help out by walking the dogs or changing the litter box!

12. Take pictures

"A friend said, 'I bet you don't have many pictures of you with the baby.' She was right and took a selection of pictures of me with my baby."

This period of time is so fleeting for a new parent—help her remember it by offering to take photos of her with her sweet baby.

13. Bring her a gift

"My mom bought me a cozy robe and pajama pants for recovery."

I know, I know! Shopping for baby gifts is pretty much impossible to resist. But the truth is, the baby has no idea that you've brought them a present (and has probably received a lot already). What is something you could bring the mom instead?

Psst: Need an idea? The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama is THE pregnancy and new mama guide women have been waiting for. It has thorough info about the often neglected fourth trimester, including information on her healing body, feeding her baby, and everything that she needs to know to take care of her baby.

And, here are 24 incredibly thoughtful gifts for new parents.

14. Tell her she's beautiful

"A few friends bought food and helped with the baby, but the thing that stood out the most was when my cousin came over a few days after we arrived home and told me I looked beautiful. It meant a lot to a mama who hadn't slept or showered in days!"

Remember that she is a person, not just a new mom. Tell her she's beautiful. Ask her about her. Give her the opportunity to talk about topics other than the baby.

On behalf of mamas everywhere, thank you for wanting to support a new mama in your life. It really does make a difference.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.

$13

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.

$15

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.

$45

Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.

$30

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.

$10

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.

$30

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.

$48

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.

$14

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.

$30

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.

$250

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

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