Meal Prep Ahead for When a New Baby Comes

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There are so many great ways to celebrate a new baby, from hosting a baby shower to welcoming the new little one at the hospital with a first birth-day cake, complete with a zero candle. Our family has welcomed six babies and has had such fun celebrating together.

From How to Help a New Mom & Dad to Tips for Saving on Baby Stuff, we want to make your “life as mom” as fun, meaningful, and easy as it can be. Here are some great ways to include the whole family in celebrating a new baby.

meal prep boxes with granola next to two bottles of milk.

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Those who know me will agree that two of my favorite things are babies and food. Having given birth six times and celebrated these precious new lives as much as my tired self could, you can believe we have built some special traditions along the way.

Whether your own baby or that of someone you love, the arrival of a newborn is a sweet, sweet time. And one to cause great celebration and good eating! Don’t wait until the baby’s first birthday to celebrate.

Here are some ways to celebrate baby with great food. You can plan for these for your own family while you’re nesting or strategically email this post to friends and family. 

Obviously, if you’re wanting to bless a friend, here’s your checklist of how to help!

Why Do This

It makes things nicer. Prepping food and planning meals before the baby arrives is key to enjoying a calmer postpartum period. You’ll keep everyone’s energy levels up as well as keep “hanger” at bay.

It makes things fun. These little food traditions are great for celebrating a new baby and helping your family transition to a new rhythm of life.

Tips for Success

Moms, please make this your mantra: eliminate, automate, delegate.

Eliminate – You don’t need to do everything. Be sure to cross off your list anything that isn’t truly significant to you or your family.

Automate – Don’t hesitate to put some things on “auto-pilot” before and after the baby arrives. This might be as simple as using the same basic meal plan for a few weeks.

Delegate – Always ask for help! You don’t have to do it all and you shouldn’t. When people ask what you need, tell them.

Ways to Meal Prep Before a Baby Comes

packaged freezer meal kit to make pizza.

1. Prep freezer meals before the baby arrives.

There’s no one more ravenous than a postpartum family, mom especially. Hopefully, you’ll have friends and family to bless you with meals. But, if that’s not the case, or even if you just want to buy some more rest time on the other side of birth, fill your freezer with meals that are easy to heat up and serve

Having a stash of freezer meals can help you avoid take-out or expensive convenience items while providing your family with tasty meals. My sister did this for me often with my births, and her freezer meals became some of our favorites. (A few are even in The Cookbook.)

Filling the freezer with ready-made meals does not need to be complicated or expensive. Double a few dinner meals for a few weeks and stash the second half in the freezer. Check out this list of go-to freezer meals to be inspired as well as our tips for postpartum meals.

jars of overnight oats topped up with milk.

2. Pack delicious and nutritious foods for the hospital.

Historically, hospital food doesn’t have a great reputation. I “lucked out” that my last two hospital stays featured room service dining with a pretty decent menu. All the same, it was nice to have familiar snacks from home that I knew fit my dietary preferences.

Foods to get my body and digestion system back in good working order were especially helpful. Having a stash of Breakfast Cookies, yogurt smoothies, and fresh fruit and vegetables ready in my fridge for a friend to bring to me was absolutely wonderful! 

(If you’re the friend, please take a snack basket to the new mom!) 

Planning ahead was also a more frugal and healthier option to take-out being brought in. 

mom and kids with baby in hospital, a cake with a zero candle is on the bed.

3. Bake a BIRTH-Day Cake.

The Birth-Day cake has always been a very special tradition for our family. It was a wonderful way for our older children to welcome the new sibling to the family. Nanna or Auntie Jamie would bake a simple boxed mix and the kids would help decorate it. 

And we always had a ZERO candle to put on the cake — because that was how old the baby was.

Not only is this an inexpensive, fun, little thing for your kids to do, it serves as a type of community builder. We’re celebrating THE Birth Day! It was always fun to offer a doctor or nurse a slice of cake and include them in the celebration.

close up of a plate of shrimp and creamy pasta with a wine glass.

4. Celebrate with a candlelight dinner for two.

Enjoy a special meal with Daddy, just the two of you. You’ve gone through a lot. And it’s only just begun!

Many hospitals make a special dinner for the new parents part of their “deluxe accommodations.” Sometimes these are great, sometimes they aren’t. But the moment of just the two of you is a good one to create.

Don’t be afraid to shoo away the well-wishers so that you and hubby can have some quiet downtime

While rooming-in, kangaroo care, and demand feeding were always my favorite techniques for bonding, today as a clear-headed, non-hormonal mother of six, today I say, “It’s okay to let the nurses have the baby for an hour while you eat in peace.” 

It’s probably the best free babysitting you’ll get in a while! Believe me, you will hit the ground running at home.

(Finally, with my fifth and sixth babies, I understood why my mom loved her hospital stays. I enjoyed every moment of “room service, housekeeping, and nanny duty.”)

flatlay of small plastic plates with snacks piled on them, like mini charcuterie boards.
Kids love snack trays, and they are soooo easy to create!

5. Stock the pantry with easy snacks and drinks.

Once you’re home, life will be fuller than it was before you left. But, you’ll still need to eat.

Having a stock of easy snacks (nuts, fruit, yogurt, hummus, veggies, salad fixings) and a great water bottle can help keep you fueled in the early days of adjusting to life with a new baby.

Whether you create a stockpile in the weeks before baby’s arrival, send Daddy out with a list, or let a friend or grandparent bless you with your snack stash, ensure it’s ready for those cravings you’re sure to have.

Having a baby is such a joyous time. Eating well and spending less can all be part of the package!

This post was originally published on March 19, 2012. It has been updated for content and clarity.

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  1. GREAT post. . . I was having major memories of how wonderful food tastes when you are nursing a newborn! LOVE the birthday cake! If the Lord blesses us with another baby, I will have to do that with my kiddos. 🙂 Very fun! One food I have made for my friends (and some have made for me) is “Mommy muffins”. I stick them in the fridge for the middle of the night! I also try to bring snacks when I bring a meal to my friend since it is an unexpected extra. I do yogurt and the muffins since we can all use a bit of help with digestion! Also, I will add that as a c-section mom (2x), bringing snacks to the hospital for the c-section recoverer is AWESOME! It may be 24 before you can eat and that might be HOURS before the next meal (10 pm for me!). You are staaaaarving and nuts, dried fruits, and a little sugar are WONDERFUL. 🙂 oh, now I’m hungry!

  2. Congratulations on the new baby! Take it easy (easier said than done sometimes!). When friends offer help or ask what they can do, accept the help and tell them what you need done. These are God’s angels in your time of need. God Bless All of You!

  3. My last pregnancy I was still working and my work had planned to have a baby shower for me, but baby had other plans and came 5 weeks early. So when we got out of the hospital almost a week later, my work brought over the food we would have used for the shower which was mostly deli food/finger foods that could all be kept in the fridge and a vegetable platter as well as disposable cups, plates, and plastic silverware. It was one of my favorite things because I could easily grab and eat straight from the fridge and I didn’t have dishes to do.

  4. Oh I love this post!!! Where have you been!!! I tell everyone it is all about the food and they look at me sideways… but I can tell you after a couple of babies I knew the only thing I wanted guests to bring were snacks. Forget meals, I have been packing the freezer for weeks, forget diapers, forget flowers… I want snacks, especially snacks I can serve with one hand… chop the watermelon up at home folks!!!

    Our babies are born at home and we always have a fabulous party in the lull between the birth and visitors arriving… in the last weeks of nesting I make copious amounts of waffles… and we feast on them together to welcome our youngest family member… I wrote about it here:

  5. This is just what I needed to hear. I’m going to be having my second in a few weeks and I totally forgot about making sure the freezer was stocked with meals!

    I did it last time with my son and I really need to make sure I do it again because I know two will be different than one and preparation is key.

  6. This is a great list!

    For my second baby friends threw me a shower just a little before the baby was born. There was a ton of cake left over and they sent it home with me. This was really sweet, but I wasn’t supposed to eat a lot of sweets or carbs during late pregnancy, so I froze it for later. But this worked out perfectly. On the day the baby was born we took it out of the freezer when we got home and used it like a Birth day cake. It was special for my older son I think. For future kids I might make my own and freeze it, because I think it is fun to include the other child(ren) in the celebration.

  7. Thanks, Jessica! We are expecting Baby #5 this week. I can totally relate. I’ve made up a lot of food ahead, especially easy and healthy snacks, breakfast items, and sides for our freezer. We have friends that will be bringing dinners, but it seems that growing boys are hungry many other times during the day too. 🙂

  8. Ladies from church always bring food over when somebody has a baby. Something awesome that several of them did for me was to bring all the food in disposable dishes so that I didn’t even have to take time to wash them and give them back! So thoughtful!

  9. I have a four week old and still searching for easy to make breakfasts and lunches for myself while home with three little boys. Everyone focuses on bringing dinner to the new momma, which is appreciated, but I love the breakfast cookies idea!

  10. I have a dear friend who has 6 children and I have always loved her “coming home” from the hospital tradition. She makes it all about the youngest (besides the infant) child. They allow that child to choose what they will have for dinner, let them be ” in charge” of greeting any visitors, and they are considered to be the official helper for the new baby. They take tons of pictures and sing silly songs. All of the older siblings have experienced the same celebration so they are supportive of the younger child’s part in this special event. She is an awesome mom and her children have very little sibling rivalry problems.

  11. We do the Birth Day cake too! It started with my love for cake and my first born; My sister made a cake for our homecoming. – We have done this for our other baby and all the cousins as well! In fact, we just made a “cupcake” cake and left it at my sister’s house when they came home the other day with their 3rd! These posts are very timely for me! Thanks!

  12. Really enjoyed this post. I’m expecting #3 (my oldest will be almost 4 when this one makes his/her appearance). We are planning our second home birth. I had big plans to stock the freezer before #2 arrived and never did. Hopefully this time I’ll get on the ball!

    You know you’re full of pregnancy hormones when the mention of a candlelit dinner for two mysteriously makes you well up. Ha!