Maybe you don’t have kids. Or maybe your children are all grown-up and you feel a little out of the loop. Whatever the reason, if you feel stumped when it comes to shopping for an upcoming baby shower, we’re here to help.
After consulting with other mothers, I’ve compiled a list of our favorite baby products, the gifts we got the most use out of from our own showers and the items we swear by and recommend to others. These are also gift ideas we’d bring to a shower — things new moms actually need. And that means a wipe-warmer will not be making the cut.
So, first things first: Most couples will register at a store or two if there’s a baby shower planned, so you could always just go the safe route and buy something off their registry. Easy enough! But we recommend a combo gift: maybe a little something the parents-to-be asked for, paired with a personal touch. It’s fun to receive the tried-and-true gifts from other moms, which will sometimes come with specific recommendations, such as, “Oh yeah, just hand her that toy when she’s in the car seat. She’ll be preoccupied for a half-hour!”
If you’re not sure about whether a registry exists or you’re torn over what seems to be an appropriate gift from the list, you can never go wrong with a soft blanket and some baby books. Or, if it’s your style, bring the new parents a hot meal. Throw some ingredients in the slow cooker and call it a day, or you could even grab a pizza, which I’ll bet would get gobbled up and appreciated all the same.
On to those specific recommendations:
1.) A baby toy or two for the diaper bag.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes is a staple for nearly every mom I know, and that’s no exaggeration. There’s just something about the way this toy lights up that babies love. Take Along Tunes was recommended to me by several older and wiser moms, and I like being able to pass down the same wisdom. The song that accompanies the flashing lights isn’t even annoying — which is huge — and there’s something very magical and captivating about this toy. It has attention-grabbing powers, it’s good from the time they’re tiny until nearly the 2-year mark and at about $7, it certainly won’t break the bank. Or you could attach this to your card! That would be cute.
New moms have lots of options when it comes to swaddling the little one: doing it the old-fashioned way, using a sleep sack, or even trying a Magic Sleepsuit. (It’s a thing, trust me). I loved receiving a box of traditional swaddling blankets because of their versatility. The Aden and Anais bamboo swaddles are the absolute softest, and they can be used as covers for breast-feeding, car seat blankets, changing table covers — you name it. They’re a great staple to have in the diaper bag, and if you’re going to go the swaddle route, you might as well buy the silkiest ones available. Aden and Anais has pretty prints too, for boys and girls.
If you’re a parent to the mom- or dad-to-be, consider a diaper subscription. Although the Honest Company is probably best known for its adorable prints and easy delivery options, you’ll find quite a few services and brands available, especially through sites such as Amazon and Jet.com. Yes, this is definitely pricy — and not a gift everyone can consider. You’ll also want to make sure the parents plan on using disposable diapers if you’re going to sign them up for a service such as Honest, unless you want to offer a few months of cloth-diaper delivery (which is another solid option. You just want to make sure you know the parents’ preferences before you rope them into any decisions!) Oh, and if you’re not considering an insanely generous gift like this, but you still want to make sure your present is valued and used, you could always just pick up a pack of diapers as part of your present. A lot of moms in my circle recommended buying size 1 instead of the newborn size, for babies who either quickly outgrew the newborn diapers or moms who reported leaks with them. I loved receiving diapers and I hope that doesn’t make me boring.
4.) A Bumbo seat
I saw this on a list once, titled something like, “Things you really DON’T need for your baby.” Say what? Disagree! We got so much use out of our Bumbo and I’ve gifted it several times to other new moms as well. My daughter loved getting propped into the correct sitting position, and she used to play in her chair for up to an hour when she was 6 months old or so. I’d set it on the floor outside the shower and hop in for a quick rinse, while she chatted away with her stuffed animal friends from her seat. She was unable to Hulk her way out of there for at least a few more months, so that seat used to buy me time around the house regularly. Also, we’d keep it in our trunk and occasionally bring it into a restaurant when there was a less-than-ideal highchair situation.
5.) A Boppy
Or any kind of nursing pillow, really. Although nursing is a personal decision, and who knows if the mom-to-be is planning on breastfeeding, these pillows — just like the Bumbo seat and the swaddles — can be used for more than just nursing assistance. One friend told me the Boppy was a great tool for her daughter’s tummy time, and it looks as if it can be used for sitting and propping, too.
6.) A Costco membership
It would be smart to ask around first, and make sure the couple doesn’t already have one — but otherwise, what a great gift if there’s a Costco Wholesale in your area. Membership stores typically offer awesome prices on items such as diapers, wipes and formula, not to mention clothes and books and things for the child as he or she grows up.
7.) A smartphone-related present
Some moms swear by the White Noise app, which has got to be cheaper than those white noise machines you can buy. My aunt bought me an iTunes gift card with a list of all the lullabies she sang to her two babies, who are now in high school. Although it might feel a touch lazy to hit the Apple store, I think, on the contrary, these can be personal and touching, yet affordable gifts. And they’re very thoughtful.
8.) A Rock ‘n Play
Show me a mom who didn’t swear by this thing. I’ll wait. Seriously, what a valuable gift. Babies don’t love being on their backs when they’re first born. (I read somewhere that it feels like they’re upside-down, based on how they were carried in the womb). So, to be propped up into this perfect position is key. My husband and I used it as a holding spot for the baby while I pumped milk. The soothing vibrations also calmed my daughter down once from a massive freakout of epic proportion. Really, it just solves any mom’s problem of being over-touched. It’s somewhere safe to set the baby, and that’s what counts. There’s a sleeper version as well, for naps and such, so I recommend checking the registry and investigating the perfect one the couple really wants. They will love you for it.
9.) Clothes for when the baby is a little older
I know, I know. Everything in newborn size is ridiculously tiny and cute. So tempting, right? Resist. My daughter grew out of her newborn clothes in about four or five weeks, so I really appreciated the 3-to-6-month items. And I loved having clothes to look forward to. One friend gave us an outfit in the 12-month size, and I swear, I laughed when we opened it — the clothes looked huge! But I was so excited when my baby finally fit into them, as I’d been anticipating that moment. I realize this can be tough if you live somewhere that offers four seasons, as you don’t want to buy an item that catches the wrong season at the wrong time or size, but it’s still an idea worth considering.
You can’t go wrong and you can’t have too many. No matter what age, books are undeniably important and special. Here are 10 titles to get you started, or, it might be cute to pick out a favorite from when you were little.
–“The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen. She has a few Pout-Pout spinoffs, too.
–“Where is Baby’s Belly Button?” by Karen Katz; wonderful illustrations for babies.
–“Pajama Time!” by Sandra Boynton. We love everything from her.
–Anything and everything from Eric Carle (the classics).
–“Where’s Spot?” by Eric Hill
–“Elmer” by David McKee
–“Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” by Mem Fox
–“I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love” by Nancy Tillman
–“Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr.
–“Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle
11.) A V-Tech learning table or a sit-to-stand learning walker
This is another item the parents won’t pull out until at least six months or so in, but these are great gifts for the baby to grow into. At some point, the little one will start pulling up on everything — the coffee table, drawers in the kitchen, you name it. Having a learning table or a walker will at least build his or her skills.
12.) Bumkins bibs
These are another inexpensive item, and they’re really cute. Cloth bibs are fine for when the baby is nursing or drinking from a bottle, but once solid food is introduced, all bets are off. Bumkins are easy to wipe clean, they’re washing machine-friendly and they’re adorable. They come in patterns from Dr. Suess, The Walt Disney Co., DC Comics and more. Done and done!
So now we’ll ask: Fellow new moms, what did we miss? Let us know in the comments.
And for the rest of you, happy shopping!