• Hayley

The best gifts for a new mum (without spending any money!)

I have a couple of friends who have recently had babies or are due to have them and it got me thinking about what gifts were the most useful as a new mum. I remember being overwhelmed with the generosity of friends and family with my first baby. Beautiful clothes, lots of toys, blankets, wraps, towels, washcloths, feeding items, hats, the list went on. They were all useful gifts but in those first three months there are a lot of things that a new mum needs that are even more useful than these physical baby things.

In those first few months of having a new baby, life is a blur. If it's your first you're struggling with the huge amount of change in your life, the lack of sleep, constant feeding and figuring out how to cook a meal when you have a baby who wants constant attention in the witching hours. If you already have children you need to figure out how to deal with the baby and your other child/children thrown in the mix too.

So if you're looking for the perfect gift for a new mother here are some ideas that don't involve buying a physical gift but that she'll appreciate just as much, if not more.

Keep her company and visit regularly - after the initial flurry of visitors all keen to meet the new addition has died down life can get a bit lonely for a new mum. You're adjusting to not working, staying home a lot and your only company is a baby who spends most of the time sleeping, feeding or crying. This is where the support of friends is crucial. Don't assume because your friend has had a baby she's too busy for you now. This is when she needs you most. Send her a message, visit her and check on her wellbeing.

Meals/food - having a baby means that getting anything ready for dinner or remembering to eat yourself can be a huge challenge in those first few months. Take a meal that's ready to heat up or make easy to eat snacks like muffins or bliss balls. If you're not much of a cook buy things and take them round. One of the most useful gifts I got was from my workplace. They gifted me around 10 heat and eat meals. It was such a lifesaver to have these in the freezer and be able to bring them out and have dinner sorted in five minutes.

Offer to look after the baby - sometimes as a new mum you just need five minutes to clear your head. Maybe it's a walk outside, a chance to have a nap, or just a quick shower and a chance to get out of your pjs (if you want to). Having someone stop by and offer to help with the baby can be a lifesaver. If this isn't the first child you could offer to take the older kids down to a playground or entertain them for a bit so that mum can spend some quality time with the baby or vice versa perhaps look after the baby so mum can give some attention to the older kids.

Help with the housework - in those first few months trying to keep on top of washing, cleaning and keeping your house from looking like a bomb site is a struggle. Pop round and chuck a load of washing on, tidy up the house, do the dishes or prep things ready for dinner. These are things that will really help take some of the pressure off. Most new mums won't want to ask you to do these things so don't ask just take charge.

Offer to do a grocery shop or pick up a few items - when you have a new baby the ability to leave the house to do something as simple as pick up some milk let alone do the groceries has now become a mammoth effort. Helping out by checking if anything is needed before you visit or offering to do a grocery shop, or pick up a click and collect can be a huge help.

Pass on hand-me-downs or lend your baby gear - being off work can be a challenging time financially for many families. Going down to one income can put a lot of pressure on the household budget. Passing on items you no longer need or lending things can be a huge support for a family and can help save them a lot of money.

Take a picture of mum with baby - chances are there have been 1000 pictures taken of the baby since it was born. Often though these are taken by the parents and there aren't often many with mum in them. So take a picture of mum with baby, she's probably still in her pjs, with unwashed hair and a spit up stain on her but it's great to have those memories of the early days.

The above ways are simple and easy things you can do to support a new mum and family. Typically you can only give these after the baby is born. So if you're heading to a baby shower and want to have something to give why not create 'vouchers'. Things like 'two hours babysitting, one home cooked meal, or three loads of washing'.

Giving help and support to a new mum in any of these ways can really help get her through those first few trying months. When she looks back she'll remember how helpful your gift was, much better than the cute outfit that baby has already grown out of.

Hayley x