Newborn care is important. Whether this is your first or your ninth baby, it can be so difficult just to take care of yourself when you get home from the hospital.
Breastfeeding moms will require an additional 300 calories per day for breast milk production, all for newborn care and feeding! Combine this with the necessity to sit still for 15-60 minutes for each feeding session, and you really need to be on top of your game!
How much exactly should you be eating? Eat when you’re hungry and keep eating until you’re full. Your exact calorie requirements will fluctuate with baby’s growth spurts and other factors during newborn care.
People come over to offer their help during this time and you just don’t know what to ask for. Newborn care is overwhelming! You would love to ask for sleep, but that means asking your guest to change diapers, vacuum the floor, do the dishes—it all seems like such an imposition. But, getting additional newborn care from others is a great help.
But what if you could just ask them to chop a few carrots? Boil some pasta? Easy enough.
How Can Friends And Family Help With Newborn Care?
This article will provide things you can ask friends to do, such as prep foods that you can just grab out of your handy IKEA food storage containers and eat while you have a calm moment (or just a less chaotic moment).
But First, Water!
Of course, the first thing that should be at the top of any blog about health is water. Get a big water bottle and keep it filled. Keep it on the counter. Keep it with you. And drink it. Drink before you get thirsty. This is the first step to effctive newborn care!
I should mention for the new parents out there that it should be filled with water rather than chocolate milk. Or rum.
- Cottage cheese – add some berries or sliced fruit
- Hummus – If you’re feeling adventurous, here is a great guide to making your own hummus! If you realize that motherhood in and of itself is enough adventure for now, I highly recommend the Sabra brand hummus, readily available in many markets. Trader Joe’s brand hummus is also very tasty (all flavors). Either way, have a tub in your fridge. It’s a great source of fiber, folate, and protein. Dip carrots, cucumber, peppers or fingers!
- Beans – So much to say here. Check out this crazy Pinterest list of bean salads! Wow! Beans are full of protein, fiber, potassium, iron, B-6, and magnesium! One cup of black beans provides 13% of your calcium for the day. My favorite is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans—very high in folate. These recipes for roasted chickpeas are amazing. They are crunchy and so satisfying. You can make a ton and have it on the countertop. One can of chickpeas provides 21 grams of fiber (85% DV), and 21 grams of protein. Think you can’t eat a whole can of chickpeas? Try crunchy roasted chickpeas. You can and will.
- Nuts – In a container. On the counter. High in fiber, protein, and beneficial fats. I love buying the Kirkland Signature Extra Fancy Unsalted Nuts at Costco. Easy to grab, no prep. You can throw them on salad, or just eat a handful at a time.
- Peanut butter – My favorite is Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds. It has an amazing texture and depth of flavor. Pair it with honey, whole wheat bread, or fingers. Or a spoon if you’re trying to avoid a mess. I guess.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Canned tuna or wild salmon – You want to watch the mercury level in the tuna—stick with canned light tuna. You can read more about mercury levels in this EPA report. You can also read about how canned light tuna is actually skipjack—a biblical cousin of tuna, lower in mercury and less of a sustainability issue in this Nat Geo article.
- Grilled chicken – I love my George Forman Grill. It’s so quick, it’s an easy clean-up, and you can use chicken strips over salads, on its own in the middle of the night, or just when you’re on your way from cleaning up one mess to cleaning up another!
- Ground meat – see comments on my George Forman Grill above! I love to add zucchini to my meatballs, burgers, and meatloaf. It boosts the nutrition, lightens the texture and helps maintain moisture.
- Healthy sliced meats – just grab and go. If it’s difficult to find nitrate-free meats, you can opt to make your own! I know this is supposed to be a list to make your life easier, but this is actually super-easy. You can make a ton at once and freeze it. Or have a friend make a ton at once for you! Just look how easy this recipe is!
- Soup – just in general. You could make this delicious crock pot chicken noodle soup, making sure to use crock pot liners– because who wants to clean up a crock pot? Or you could have premade soup boxes on hand (if you add a pinch of garlic, you can call it homemade). I love the Trader Joe’s brand soups. In fact, I just stumbled upon this website, which reviews various TJ’s products.
- Tofu – is a great stand-by, but you have to watch the expiration dates on those packages. They mean business. You can grill it, sauté it, or throw it at the wall in a fit of anger (it makes a satisfying, squishy sounds before it breaks—but then you have to clean it).
- Yogurt – is quick, ready, nutritious, high in protein and deliciousness. It’s creamy and satisfying. Greek yogurt is the highest in protein and calcium because of the straining process. I would recommend Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Yogurt. It’s the perfect amount of tangy and creamy. You could add sliced bananas and berries, or you could make lassi, an Indian yogurt drink. You can have it sweet, or have it mangofied. Or you could go totally crazy- check out 12 Creamy and Delicious Lassi Recipes, including savory masala spiced lassi with roasted beets… and vegan mango lassi. Whoa. But I digress again. My favorite sweet treat is the Chobani Flip– specifically the salted caramel crunch (it’s very sweet).
I won’t list the many types of fruit that are just ready to go. Grab an apple, or buy some of those pre-sliced baggies. Eat it whole, or dip it in peanut butter. Or Nutella. I’m not judging. Mmm… Nutella. Actually, I prefer Justin’s Nut Butter Natural Chocolate Hazelnut. You could even buy it in these convenient chocolaty packets. But I digress…
- Avocado – slice it in half and fill with tuna salad. Or ask your mother-in-law to make you the smoked salmon egg stuffed avocado. Eat slices on top of sandwiches, eggs, chili. Avocado is high in anti-inflammatory fats, which is so important right now. Or always. It’s also a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and B-6—which has been proven to help with nervousness, irritability, and depression- but us new moms wouldn’t know anything about that!
- Just sliced – carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers
- Frozen peas – when I’m short on time, I just throw them on my George Forman Grill along with the main dish. You could also do that with sliced yams.
- Green beans – raw in a salad, or steamed, roasted with garlic and slivered almonds. Many vegetables can be roasted—just drizzle with olive oil, salt and garlic (more spices and herbs if you wish), bake for 12-14 minutes at 400*. It’s easy, delicious and you get to feel the accomplishment of having done something other than changing 25 diapers.
- Beets – steam, slice, and enjoy! Some enjoy juicing beets—just don’t spill! Oh man, this recipe for roasted beets with a citrus dressing looks good, too, but it doesn’t need to be that fancy. You can pair it with chunks of goat cheese, or just have it as a side dish. Beets are also very high in folate.
- Mushrooms – slice them and include in pasta, eggs, soups or stews.
- Potatoes – bake them whole and stick them in the fridge. Slice and reheat as needed on the George Forman Grill. Potatoes get a bad rap, especially white potatoes. But truth be told, they are a good source of fiber (especially if you eat the skin), potassium, vitamin C and B-6.
- Squash – can be intimidating. It comes in crazy colors and shapes. But generally, slice, dust with olive oil and bake. The baking time depends on the size, but many squash come with a little recipe sticker attached. Here is a delicious recipe for cinnamon roasted butternut squash. You can buy the pre-cubed squash at Trader Joe’s. You can probably halve or completely eliminate the sugar from the recipe, too.
- Instant oatmeal. You can follow the directions, or get fancy by adding almond milk, coconut oil, ground flax meal and chia seeds. It’s easy to store, grab and prepare. It sticks to your ribs—It will keep you full for a while, so you can worry about chasing around those kids or scrubbing that crayon off the wall (seriously, how many times can you ask your husband to quit that???).
- You can find a great video recipe for homemade oatmeal bars here. There are so many variations available, but having them on hand and easy to grab might save your sanity. And I’m always in favor of adding in some flax meal!
- Pasta – is great to keep at the ready. Boil it, mix it up with some olive oil and keep it in the fridge for a few days. You can heat it up with marinara and add some Trader Joe’s soy sausage. You can add some cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and an olive oil dressing and make it a pasta salad. You can add cheese, eat it in the middle of the night and pretend it never happened…
- Israeli Couscous – actually a pasta. My boys call it “baby pasta” and I make it in the rice cooker. I love the Israeli couscous because the pieces are larger and make less of a mess. You can make it with broth or with water. You can serve it with stew, or you can make a salad out of it by adding cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and feta, like in this recipe. Israeli couscous and quinoa are actually pretty interchangeable as far as recipes go, but quinoa is technically a seed and has a totally different nutrition profile.
- Rice – is great as a side dish. You can make brown rice, wild rice (which isn’t actually rice), or black rice pudding. It’s easy to have on hand. You could also make fried rice with all the veggies your friends chopped up for you—or you could sub the rice for quinoa and make fried quinoa.
- Healthy muffins – are a staple in my house. I regularly develop new recipes to incorporate (not hide) vegetables. Muffins can be made in large batches and frozen. So can waffles and pancakes for that matter. You can find some of my muffin recipes on Tandem Trouble (you can also find amazing videos on baby weaning there)!
- Whole wheat bread. I don’t think I have much to explain with this one.
A recipe I love for new moms going through newborn care, especially those having trouble keeping up their calorie intake during breastfeeding, is chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are high in fiber, calcium and zinc—you can read more about the amazing health benefits here. To make chia seed pudding, combine one can of coconut milk (not the “coconut milk drink” commonly found in cartons) with 1/3 cup chia seeds and a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. Stir and refrigerate at least 4 hours. It’s delicious, fast, easy, makes a limited mess and is a great calorie booster for the breastfeeding mom experiencing newborn care or for the toddler! You can get really fancy with it too—check out these crazy Pinterest recipes!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a great place to start! Great newborn care is within reach!