If you’re headed to a baby shower, our first recommendation is to check and see if the parents-to-be have set up a registry. For a first child, most of the things on the list will be must-haves related to nursing, diaper disposal, strollers, bedding, swaddling cloths, bathing kit and the like. If there’s a registry available, chances are you’ll want to stick to it, as these are the things most likely to truly help the parents-to-be. As well, buying off a registry makes any necessary returns or exchanges much easier for the prospective parents.
That said, not all moms- and dads-to-be create a registry or hold a baby shower, but you may still wish to get them a gift. And, for a second child, it’s entirely possible there will be no shower – after all, the parents will already have most of the gear they’ll need to welcome the new addition to the family. Nonetheless, you might want to send something to mark the wonderful occasion. Or, even if you are attending a baby shower for which there is a registry, perhaps you’d like to add in a little something extra – a surprise or two – to accompany an item the parents earmarked. All these situations may have you putting your thinking cap on and doing a bit of brainstorming to come up with something appropriate. And, perhaps that has led you to the interwebs to do a bit of gifty research? If so, we’re here to help!
We’ve tried to do the heavy lifting for you by putting our noggins together and coming up with some of our tried and true baby gifts – as well as drawing on advice and feedback from parents we know and love. Here are a few ideas that we hope might either fit the bill, or start the creative juices flowing!
- Children’s books. Clearly these will not be used immediately, but they will be there on the bookshelf, ready for when the new baby is old enough - and that often comes more quickly than parents expect! Books are a great gift for several reasons. First, if you don’t know the gender of the baby, it doesn’t matter. Second, books will be enjoyed not just by the baby imminently being born but by any subsequent siblings too. Third, do you have books you fondly remember from childhood? Giving books means that you can help create similar memories for the new arrival, something a diaper pail, practical as it is, frankly just doesn’t do. Not sure which books to give? Some of our favorites are: Pat the Bunny, Peek-A Who?, Little Blue Truck and Goodnight Moon. Or, pitched slightly older: Amos & Boris, Blueberries for Sal, Horton Hears a Who!, Press Here, A Dark, Dark Tale, The Jolly Postman, Curious George, Corduroy and The Story of Babar. And, last but not least, you may wish to consider a vintage edition of Aesop’s fables or a classic book of fairy tales. Some early editions are very expensive but others are eminently affordable and many come with gorgeous illustrations. It pays to do a little hunting on the likes of AbeBooks and/or BookFinder.
Books for the mom-to-be and dad-to-be. We don’t suggest getting parenting books – chances are the parents-to-be already have one or two of these. However, if you are gifting to first time parents, baby food cookbooks can be a great idea. Clearly they won’t be needed immediately, but anticipating needs in advance can be helpful as the parents will have the opportunity to read-up before making a switch from milk or formula to foods. In the past, we have given Cooking for Baby and The Baby and Toddler Cookbook, but we also like the looks of The Big Book of Organic Baby Food, a recent publication and one we could see giving at a future date. Side note: if you’d like to round out your gift, a bowl and masher is often be a good gift accompaniment or pairing for a cookbook.
Parental must-haves. A dear friend (and mom to two boys) told us that a gift that she’s given to two people who BOTH later told her it was the best gift they received was a “must-have kit,” for when the baby first comes home. The items she included in the kit included (and we quote): “Pampers Swaddlers diapers, Vaseline (very large tub), wipes (odorless and chlorine free), muslin swaddling cloths (aden + anais are soft, huge (important) and very cute), Johnson’s “no more tears” baby shampoo, and cloth diapers (or burp cloths).” The added touch which lends a bit of humor to the proceedings? Our friend appended Post-its with instructions on each item which made the gift even more helpful (and personal). One recipient couldn’t figure out why her baby boy’s clothes were always soaked around the waist until she read the diaper note more carefully: “point down!” We admit, we got a chuckle out of that story!
The gift of music. If you really want to splash out, a bluetooth speaker for the nursery is an idea - or, if the budget is a bit tight, music in another form is grand too - be it a playlist or CDs. Children’s singers (hello,Raffi!), some fun singing/dancing tunes (like Classic Disney) and classical music (Peter and the Wolf or an instrumental compilation for example) are all great for, respectively, a cheery and relaxing nursery.
Something to pamper the mom-to-be. In the excitement of anticipating the new arrival, the focus is unsurprisingly on the little one who is soon to join the world. However, a little luxuriating of the mom-to-be usually does not go amiss! Be it Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Leg and Foot Creme, a pregnancy massage, or a special sleeping pillow, a little bit of attention can help ease the physical changes that come with pregnancy. We’ve also heard that a gift certificate to a lingerie/nightwear/loungewear shop often hits the mark when it comes to making mom feel good. Vendors to explore in the US might be: Rigby & Pelller, HerRoom, or Etsy shop OnTheInside. If you’re based in Australia, you may wish to check out BRÂVA and if you’re UK-based, the original Rigby & Peller site.
Jellycat stuffed animals. If you’re looking to give a stuffed toy, we love these ones – not only are they adorable, but they are super soft. There’s also a wide selection of sizes and animals. Of the Jellycats we’ve given, some have gone on to become that favorite, must-have-in-order-to-sleep toy for the child-recipient. So, whether it’s a first child or fifth, a cozy stuffed animal is often a welcome addition to the family too!
Fisher-Price Precious Planet 2-in-1 Projection Mobile. We know of at least two moms who have raved about this and, on the back of that, have gifted this mobile ourselves! At first, the music helps to lull a baby to sleep. Then, as the wee one gets a bit older, we’re told that the mobile becomes a distracting play item, allowing parents an extra hour or so of sleep in the morning. Basically, this little item is a quiet-bringer and peace-inducer. Side note: the mobile does require 4 D batteries and 2 AAA batteries for the remote. If do-able budget-wise, we recommend including rechargeable AAA and D batteries and a battery recharger to make things as easy peasy as possible.
A super big nylon laundry bag. This is a great one for monogramming if you are so inclined (and the name of the new arrival has already been set in stone). If you’re handy with a needle, you may wish to do it yourself but, if not, we spotted a jumbo laundry bag available from Custom Gifts & Monograms. The mom who mentioned this suggestion to us said when she received a laundry sack from her mom-in-law it was additionally decorated with little trinkets. Initially she was a bit puzzled about what she’d use it for. However, now she uses the sack weekly to pack together her son’s kit – everything from his lunch box, to his feeding chair, to his clothes – everything he needs when staying with his grandparents, or when on the move.
Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat. A mom we know wrote to us, “if I could impose my opinion on people on one item, this would be it. It’s comfortable for [my son], lightweight and easy to transport, packs up small and you may be able to push the chair up to the table and not see it.” A pretty compelling rationale, no?
A baby memories book. No parent we know who has maintained a baby book has lived to regret it. On the contrary, they tend to become family heirlooms! This gift is appropriate both for a first child but also a fourth, since each baby will need their own. It may actually be an especially appropriate gift for non-firstborns as this is precisely the kind of tradition, in the face of increasing busy-ness, that might fall by the wayside without a little prompting (or a book already to hand), only to be regretted in later years. You can help forestall this regret by providing the next volume. If you want to go the super deluxe, formal route, Smythson’s makes a hardbound, gilt-edged baby book that is available in pink or blue. For something a bit less formal (and rather less expensive), there are a host of options on Amazon – for example, Woodland Friends’ baby book – which is actually designed to cover the first five years of a child’s life and includes a section for baby shower memories (in fact, a great follow-on gift might be having some shower photos developed to help the parents-to-be start populating the book!). As a final note, if you are interested in giving more of a journal, rather than a memory book, check out Moleskine’s baby journal – it’s designed to capture information from 0 to 2 years of age.
A beautiful blanket. We love aden + anais’ “Up, Up & Away” muslin blanket. Super soft, it’s a great blanket both for the crib and for “tummy time” on the floor - and, we happen to be more than a little bit elephant-crazy, so absolutely fell in love with this particular pattern! Another blanket that has recently caught our eye is Rough Linen’s baby blanket. We haven’t ordered one ourselves as yet, but we have ordered other items from Rough Linen and been extremely pleased with both the quality of their products and their customer service, so we have a sneaking suspicion that this blanket too would make a lovely gift!
How about a blankie? Hands up if you had a blankie as a child! If you fancy sharing the love – or, simply upping the coziness ante in a baby’s crib, we suggest checking out Angel Dear blankies – marvelously soft and available in a wide range of animals and colors. We have a soft spot for the Yellow Duck, but, honestly, all of them are adorable!
aden + anais Classic Hooded Towel + Washcloth Set. As you may have deduced by now, we’re big fans of aden + anais products. We purchased a hooded towel and washcloth set for a newborn niece and were super impressed with both the quality and coziness of the product. Sometimes bath time gets a bit forgotten – or at least the short shrift at baby showers (ironic, no, given the name of the event?) – so a towel/washcloth set may well be welcome!
A cashmere hat. Is the baby in question being born into a cold winter? We were gifting to a new mom and dad, expecting a November baby here in chilly New England and were having a hard time tracking down a hat we loved. Well, we’re only too happy to spread the word about Etsy vendor Christine Samardich of Tallulah’s Satchels. Chris repurposes cashmere sweaters and turns them into a variety of beautiful things – among them baby’s hats. We were so delighted with her work we ended up ordering not one but two! Flash forward a year: we were out and about with the wee one in question, when another mother approached to ask where the hat currently being sported had been found – we happily told her about Tallulah’s Satchels too.
Are you a creative crafting genius? If so, there’s a strong likelihood you can make something both personal and memorable to give as a gift, be it a smocked dress, a pair of booties, or a Christmas stocking, these are the kinds of things that will be saved and handed down from generation to generation. The added benefit here – chances that someone else gives the same gift are extremely low!
Low on funds? No matter! You have something priceless you can give – an extra pair of hands. Give the parents-to-be a coupon for a date night (or two!) – a promise to babysit their wee one while they go out for dinner or take in a movie, or simply spend a weekend afternoon sleeping. If you are a close friend or family member, this can be especially comforting as the first night off from parenting can be a slightly anxious thing, especially on the first go-around. Knowing their young one is with someone who already loves their baby dearly may help to ease that concern and allow them to have a real night off. P.s. even if you’re gifting to practiced parents, this gift works – and may even be more quickly redeemed!
Not up for babysitting, but great with a paint brush? We know someone who received the gift of a freshly painted nursery from a dear friend. They provided the paint and he took care of the painting within a matter of hours. If you think about it, you may have more giftable skills than you think you do!
Cash or a gift card. No doubt about it, babies are expensive and any help on that front rarely goes amiss. Gift card wise, if you are based in the United States, we recommend choosing some place like Amazon.com (bring on the diaper deliveries!), Target or Walmart for their flexibility and breadth of selection in terms of baby-related equipment. Normally, we would mention Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us here as good gift card candidates too, given their range of selection - however, as you may be aware, they recently declared bankruptcy, so it may not be wise to purchase gift cards/certificates from them at this juncture. Big national chains aside, there are so many wonderful small, local shops out there with gorgeous selections of clothing, equipment and thoughtfully chosen toys. Oftentimes too the proprietors or employees at these shops are especially passionate and knowledgeable about their goods and that has tremendous value in and of itself, especially for new parents. For example, favorite children-oriented shops local to Boston include Henry Bear’s Park where we have tremendous fun picking out presents – and they offer complimentary gift wrap both in store AND for online orders (non-locals take note!). We’re also head-over-heels in love with the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline Village as they have a great selection of books for children of all ages. And, last but not least, we’d highlight the Curious George Store in Harvard Square - a wonderland of books, toys and games for little ones!
A few final notes about gifting to prospective parents. Definitely DO include a gift receipt wherever possible. New moms- and dads-to-be often get multiples, especially of things like onesies. As well, we are told that sometimes sizing can be tricky for seasonal specific clothing so exchanges may need to be made. In these situations, including a gift receipt helps the parents make adjustments as needed.
In addition to tucking in that gift receipt with your present, you might also consider tucking in any relevant coupons you come across. New parents will invariably be doing some in-person baby shopping and the more coupons they have to local, baby-related shops or for baby-specific products the better! And, a word to the wise, we were told that buybuy BABY takes Bed Bath & Beyond, Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us coupons (among others). Babies “R” Us and Toys “R” Us do the same, taking buybuy BABY coupons (among others), as does Bed Bath & Beyond. And, last but not least, if a coupon has expired, it may still be worth a check to see if the retailer might accept it - Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy BABY, for example, while under no obligation to do so, have both been known to honor expired coupons. There’s a bit of fine print involved about exact product matching and so forth – but it might be helpful to pass on these links to prospective parents. Wrote the mom who passed word about coupon exchangeability on to us, “I wish someone had told me this [sooner].”
We’re drawing to a close now, but would like to share a final presentation idea as we round things out – if you decide to gift clothes, one friend of ours received a slew of baby outfits pinned to a clothesline at her shower. We thought this was such a creative method of presentation we wanted to pass it along!
In conclusion, if you came to this post looking for some new ideas but also have several tried and true baby gift ideas of your own (gifts you have given OR received) we’d be delighted to hear what they are/were – and, we suspect that anyone in the Little Birdie Me community who ends up here will also be keen to hear additional ideas on the baby gifting front. Please, comment away!
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