Compiled by Anna
Welcoming a brand-new little one into the world is fantastic. Who doesn’t love choosing adorable outfits for a baby? Yet clothes aren’t always the most useful gift. Every now and then, someone on the way to the store will call me and ask which of the presents from my first born’s baby shower came in most handy.
I decided to do some crowdsourcing. My Facebook friends rose to the occasion, and I am delighted to share their wisdom with you.
Here is your handy-dandy-SDMW-prepared guide to buying excellent baby shower gifts!
It’s not directly baby-related, but young parents might appreciate a copy of Family Vocation or materials to facilitate family devotions. I would find out if they own a copy or two of the hymnal and Treasury of Daily Prayer.
Big-ticket items for collaborative giving
Group gifts are highly recommended. As one mom pointed out, it’s a lot easier for cash-strapped parents to find second-hand clothes than to get the bigger-ticket items like cribs, car seats, and Pack ’n Plays. In addition, cribs and car seats have changing safety standards (or even, in the latter case, expiration dates), and most moms aren’t comfortable with a vintage version from Aunt Suzy’s attic.
Even if the parents already have a car seat, you might be able to purchase useful items designed to function with it. Ask about the brand. For instance, I have Graco car seats and found this simple frame very helpful--once the car seat is clicked aboard, it becomes a newborn-friendly stroller, and lets you more easily take a sleeping baby in and out of a store without having to unbuckle him.
Several moms were emphatic that a Pack ’n Play is invaluable. It comes with a variety of attachments, including one that can turn it into a bassinet for a tiny baby. It makes a great bed for a little one whose crib doesn’t fit into your room (or whose crib isn’t purchased yet) and is useful on overnight trips. One mom said, “We could not survive without a Pack ‘n Play. Or two. Or three. For a while I would roll the thing from our bedroom (for baby naps) to the dining room (for night time) every day. Small apartment.”
I still like having mine set up so that I can pop my one-year-old in if she absolutely must be kept out from under foot--for instance, if I’m moving furniture or going in and out the door to unload groceries. It’s also useful occasionally if she, ahem, needs some time alone because she’s been assaulting her big brother while trying to seize his toys.
A nice glider for nursing (especially night time nursing!) was also highly recommended.
Some parents also enjoyed having Rock ‘n Plays and baby swings. If getting the latter, a model that plugs into the wall can save a lot of money on batteries. My own newborns have so far been the kind who scream their little heads off in swings or baby seats, but some kids love the things. As one mom pointed out, the Rock ‘n Play can help a baby with acid reflux sleep in a more comfortable position, and I’ve heard of colicky little ones whose only comfort was a swing. One mom put it his way: “Tell the givers to provide receipts, and the recipients to keep original packaging and receipts until they are sure.”
One mom was given a good breast-pump, and said it saved her and her daughter’s breastfeeding relationship. I’d check with the recipient about her pumping plans, because sometimes insurance will cover a pump if the baby’s pediatrician writes a prescription for it.
A baby carrier is a lifesaver for a lot of moms, and many brands are pricey when purchased new. The Boba, Ergo, and Moby were recommended to me. In my own experience, the Moby is fantastic for newborns and the Ergo is useful for older babies.
One brilliant lady said, “A coupon for a house cleaner. All paid, whole house. Now THAT is real mother love.”
Another suggested, “I was thinking it would be nice to have the mom give the host a bunch of favorite meals/recipes. Especially if there are special dietary needs. Then put them on ‘ornaments’ and have folks choose one to bring after baby is born.”
Favorite Smaller-ticket Items
Here are my favorites:
· These Japanese nail scissors
· Baby Bjorn pocket bibs
· A toddler-sized hooded towel (add a few bath toys for extra cuteness)
· Seasonally-appropriate hats or infant mittens (this is the kind of thing I didn’t fully realize I wanted until it was snowing outside or I was sitting in the sun with a baby who needed a hat. Maybe this just means I was disorganized?)
Here are the recommendations from my wonderful Facebook friends:
· “A noninvasive thermometer. We all need them eventually and who wants to have to go get one when the baby is sick?”
· “A lingerie bag filled with teeny tiny socks. Those socks won't get lost in the washing machine!”
· “I'm very much the less is more type when it comes to baby items . . . the exceptions being good books and good socks.”
· “Burp rags with custom sewn trim; refillable travel wipes box and cute travel diaper pocket to throw in the diaper bag; lullaby CD; gift card.”
· “I usually try to buy an outfit in a bigger size (like 18 months or 2T), some diapers, and wipes.”
· “I got The Read-Aloud Handbook at my shower ten years ago. It is well-worn now and has been such a great resource.”
· “I received a couple of velcro SwaddleMe wraps at my shower for my first twins, and that's my go-to for most people because they're definitely on the ‘didn't know I needed’ list.”
· “A sheep fur (available from Ikea). We put one in our kids' beds and even the least flexible of them considered it ‘their’ bed when we travelled. Ruth Seeger's American Folk Songs for Children--we went through two copies. Tom Hunter tapes. A plastic book with clear sleeves for sliding photos into that the kids could drool on, chew, etc. Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy (more for the mother of a third or fourth child than for the kid). A carrying cloth.”
· “A go-to item for me is if I see cloth diapers in someone's list. Those are so expensive, and people don't tend to get them for you if they aren't familiar with them themselves.”
· “A Boppy (or generic equivalent--for nursing or propping Baby, and Mom can sit on it post-birth). Aden and Anais swaddling blankets--multiple uses (burp cloth, nursing cover, emergency blowout kid cover, sun shade). I'm not a brand name guru, and secondhand works great for most things, but those blankets are awesome. Oh, and a spa gift certificate for mom--massage, mani/pedi, cut and style, whatever. Those are awesome! And family food gifts or gift certificates. I love those!”
· “The book Baby 411”
· “Disposable diapers are the best gift. Get some size 1 and 2 because those are the ones you suddenly need and don't have any of!”
· “This swaddler”
· “My aunt makes us these gorgeous baby blankets--taggies and snugglies and big giant receiving blankets. Those are my favorites to get, although I don't have the bandwidth currently to make and give them. My favorite to give are a hand breast pump--Medela makes a good and inexpensive one--and a bouncy chair. I also like to give a ring sling. It's my favorite if you're going to just get one baby holder because you can also use it as a nursing cover, blanket, and diaper changing station.” [NOTE from me: some young moms hesitate over blankets because they’ve been warned never to put such things in a crib. Remind them that blankets are awesome for stroller rides, tummy time indoor or out, and as a backdrop for taking photos of the baby.]
My baby shower took place across the country from where I lived, so I requested that instead of bulky items, guests would bring a copy of a book they enjoyed reading to their kids. It’s wonderful to get your household library started early. Here are the board books I’ve most enjoyed sharing with my own toddlers and babies:
· Books by Sandra Boynton (the first one my little guy would read all the way through was Opposites)
· Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
· Goodnight, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd (I know; it’s a rather strange book, but little ones seem powerfully drawn to it)
· The Real Mother Goose and My First Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright and Blanche F. Wright
· We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen
· Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh
· My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
· Cozy Classics are adorable if you find one that suits the interests of the parents. We have Moby Dick.
Best wishes on your shopping!