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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 18°C
# parents panel
'Mam came to the door with dinner': 13 parents share one lovely gesture that helped with a new baby
From eyelash extensions for mum to taking over night feeds.

WHEN IT COMES to being pregnant, or parenting a newborn, everyone’s just figuring things out as they go. That’s why it can be so helpful to hear how other people are getting through the mess of it all, from the first nappy change to the countless sleepless nights.

Our Newborn and Baby Parents Panel is made up of parents and parents-to-be, all raising little ones aged up to 24 months.


This week, we asked our panel to weigh in on the ways friends and family members helped when they brought a new baby home. From showing up to help with laundry or leaving dinner in the front garden, these ideas might even serve as inspiration the next time a friend or sister has a baby. 

What’s one lovely thing a friend or family member did for you when you had a baby? 

Here are a few of the best responses:

My friend brought me a voucher to get eyelash extensions: Instead of buying a gift of an outfit for the baby, my friend brought me a voucher to get eyelash extensions done. When you have a new baby, you put self care way down on the priority list. I was so pleased that some one thought of me, and my husband also agreed that it was the best present to come into the house! 

- Orlaith O’Regan

A friend left dinner in the front garden: In the early days of just constant feeding, I was on the couch, blinds pulled when a text from a friend came in: ‘Left something inside your front garden.’ She had left a cardboard box of cakes, ready meals from Donnybrook Fair (fancy!) and other essentials like teabags. She dropped it and went again and we met up when I felt more able to face the world – it was amazing!  

- Valerie Murray

shutterstock_12696049 Shutterstock / Stuart Monk Shutterstock / Stuart Monk / Stuart Monk

My co-workers gave me a useful voucher for nappies: People in work had a whip round and bought me a Boots card as a present. It was brilliant for a first time new mam who had no idea how much stuff a baby needs in terms of day-to-day items such as nappies and wipes. Much more useful than a cuddly toy or beautiful outfits that I couldn’t get my child in before he grew out of them! 

My sister cooked us a massive pot of chili: And she brought over all the bits to go with it – sour cream, cheese, coriander all chopped up and ready to go. It was fabulous having a delicious, home cooked meal that just needed a quick zap in the microwave and still felt healthy! 

- Brianan Nolan

My mam knocked on the door with cooked dinner: On a number of occasions, my mam knocked on the door with a cooked dinner, literally hot on a plate. I could not have been more grateful for this when my newborn son was cluster feeding and only wanted to be with me. 

- Paula Lynch

My sister offered to take my baby for a walk: I had an unplanned c-section so was in hospital almost a week. Our first night home was highly stressful, what with a tiny baby and no medical professional in the next room. The following morning my sister arrived, just checking in and looking for new baby cuddles. She offered to take him for a walk, so we popped him in his buggy and off they went. And off I went to bed for an hour and a half uninterrupted sleep, worry and stress free – almost. It was a godsend.

- Martha Mertagh

My husband’s aunt made loads of dinners for our freezer. We were never better fed than those first few weeks.

Friends offered middle of the night breastfeeding support: My friends were also super quick in replying to all my messages about breastfeeding. It was wonderful to know I had support, even in the middle of the night from other mams!

- Siobhán Mehigan

shutterstock_470832599 Shutterstock / Africa Studio Shutterstock / Africa Studio / Africa Studio

My best friend stayed with me for two whole weeks when my baby arrived: She had to go to her regular job as well, and then came home to her other full time job which was looking after me and her godson! She cooked meals, cleaned the house, cuddled and looked after him to let me take a shower or whatever I needed to do. She would even send me to bed for a few hours and bring my son up to me when he needed feeding. She really was all round fantastic – everyone should have one!

- Sarah McGinley

My mother dropped everything and came to help: After my emergency section, and once my husband went back to work after his paternity leave, my mother dropped everything and came out to me every single day. She helped prepare food, she minded the baby, she would fill my water bottle when my baby was latched on, she passed me the remote… but most importantly she kept me company and kept me sane at the most tiring and stressful time of my life. 

My sister in-law-waxed also my legs for me: After so long neglecting them (not being able to see them when pregnant, too tired and sore post-partum) she let me come over and she waxed my Chewbacca legs! It’s not as obvious as getting my hair or nails done but it was something that made me feel human.

- Kathryn Walsh

A friend came over and cleaned: I’d say the most kind and helpful thing someone’s done was take over all the housework I couldn’t get to – she came over with groceries like fresh fruit and snacks I could eat with one hand, wine, toilet paper and cleaning wipes, and she just started cleaning and doing the washing – before picking up the baby. The most helpful part was how little she asked – not what I needed from the store first, or where to put away laundry or dishes, she just guessed and got it done without asking anything of me. It was a blessing for my overwhelmed and sleep deprived mind! 

- Kristi Paris

My best friend called over with a meal deal: After I had my second baby my best friend called with a Marks & Spencer meal deal (with wine!). Such a simple gesture but I could have cried with how thoughtful and how much-needed it was. She even held our baby and entertained our toddler while we ate it in peace! Since then I have always brought food to new parents and it has never been turned down.

- Aisling Fitzgerald

We lived with family for the first six months while waiting for our house to be completed: While I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, as it was a bit of beautiful chaos, it was great overall and so very helpful. Someone would be around to just help fold clothes, make tea, or even mind the little guy while I showered. Even if it was just one small thing during the day (like bringing me a plate of cookies while I was stuck under a nursing baby) it was a huge help – despite the constant thump of “guilt” I felt if our washing was folded, it was a really nice feeling to be looked after as well, because you pour so much of yourself into your newborn during that fourth trimester.

- Jess Mushanski

My mom used to invite me and my baby to stay at her house: She would get up with him for the night feeds while I slept. We might have only stayed there one or two nights in total, but it was so helpful. It really helped me recover from my c-section. I woke up feeling refreshed and was able to enjoy the day with my baby. 

- Julie Ann Walsh

My mam arrived every single day: She came for the first three weeks with lunch and dinner for me and my husband. During each visit, she took the laundry and returned with it washed and ironed the next day. At the time I took this for granted a little, but looking back now I realise how much of a life safer she was. We were fed and had clean clothes because of her. 

- Claire Kodjo

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