It might be time to register for your first baby, or you may have just received an invitation to a co-worker’s baby shower – either way buying gifts for a new mom can be overwhelming.Our modern society has done a wonderful job of creating a product for everything you need, and a market for lots that you don’t.This means that walking up and down the aisles of Buy Buy Baby can be daunting. This is especially true if you haven’t shopped for a new mom or newborn in a while (or ever!).
As a new mom myself, here are a few ideas to help you help you find that perfect gift. There are many lists of standard things you’ll need for a new baby, but I’d like to help you think about things that might not be on those other lists. These are the things that have gotten their money’s worth in my home. Since there were so many items that I bought, but didn’t end up using, I’m excited to share with you what I did find useful!
For me, the idea of a good product is one that can last, be used for more than one purpose, and can grow with baby. Well, swaddle blankets are just that! These are so handy because they have a variety of purposes. I love the muslin ones, which are lightweight and can be thrown easily into a diaper bag or purse. Obviously, they are wonderful for swaddling a newborn. But in addition to their obvious uses, they can be used in other ways: as a light blanket while in the stroller or car set, a quick cover to stay modest while nursing, or even try rolling it up and use it to boost a tiny baby while baby-wearing. I like to keep it handy while running into stores to cover my baby from the sun and the shock of being blasted by air conditioning. There is always one in my bag and an extra in the car, regardless of temperature, time of day or where we are going. My favorite is, Aden and Anai Muslin Swaddle Blankets. Their super soft and the fabric is lightweight enough for our warm climate.
One of the best suggestions I ever got was to use a small portable bed for my newborn. I’m not talking about a full size bassinet that you use at night, I’m referring to one you can carry from room to room while the baby sleeps. We ended up borrowing one from a friend that was an attachment from their Pack N’ Play (The Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard’s Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat). We used that thing all the time! We kept it close by at home as a place for our baby to lay while playing or interacting and we took it to friend’s houses to use for nap time when we were away from home. It’s such a useful item that we used about a week after the day she was too long to fit! I highly recommend a portable “bassinet” like this.
The standard C-Shaped pillows are great to have around. Like most things on my list, I love it because there are so many uses for them. The most common use would be for nursing, which I found to be necessary from day one. The way it supports baby and mom can help ease you into a very difficult journey. It can also be used if you bottle feed, as a way to help support the baby’s body, head and to help you find a good (comfortable) angle. As the baby grows, the pillow is a great tool to use during tummy time, a place to prop baby as she learns to sit up on her own (supervised, of course!), and even an arm rest for grandma as she holds the newborn for hours while mom gets a nap. I like the Boppy Brand Pillow because it’s bigger and more plush, which I found to be more comfortable while nursing.
Small Security Blanket
One of the most unique gifts I received, I opened and actually wondered what it was for. It was a really soft blanket but it was too small to cover my baby, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I put it aside for a while. After a few months, I realized my baby’s hands were always looking for fabric to touch, and this blanket was perfect for her. Since that day, she hasn’t separated with her security blanket. It’s a small blankie, about 13 inches by 15 inches wide, made out of very soft fabric on one side and silky satin on the other. While nursing, she loves to play with it in her hands feeling the textures and even holds it close to her cheeks. She tends to cry when we first put her in her car seat, but calms down quickly after we hand her the blankie. The one I received is made by a company called, “Swanky Blankie,” and is made of plush materials with a really fun pattern. I also found great less expensive options on Amazon. I’d advise getting 2, so when one is dirty there’s always backup.
A great gift for any mother is a membership or subscription to things they could really use. For example, most new moms are going to be spending a lot of time in bed or on the couch while nursing, resting, holding, soothing and playing with a new baby. This could mean hours (and hours, and hours and hours) out of the day. So a gift that might be well appreciated is a year’s subscription to Netflix, allowing her to catch up on TV shows and movies she’s been missing while getting ready for baby. Another useful gift is a year membership to a store like Costco, where she can load up on diapers, wipes, frozen foods and snacks to fill the pockets on her diaper bag.
A BIG water bottle jug or thermos
New nursing moms need to be drinking a lot of water. A gift many new moms will find useful is a large water bottle. It sounds simple, but it’s really a necessity that you might not think about. A few would be ideal, that way she can keep one in each of her standard “spots” throughout the house: bed, glider/nursing chair, and the couch. One with a straw and handle would be the easiest for her to use. And hint to her husband to make it his job to keep them filled and fresh!
Some toys that play music (any have flashing lights)
Some of the first senses a new baby will experience are light and sound. Most people know how useful a sound machine is at nighttime, but we’re living in a world of portable devices and sound machines are no exception. We bought a small, portable sound machine that attaches to our car seat. It plays a few of the common sound machine sounds, but also plays a calming music lullaby. This is wonderful for car rides and even keeping baby asleep while mom is shopping! Plus, it tends to keep everyone around calm and quiet while the baby is napping.
Another great suggestion is a toy that plays music with lights. Around 6 weeks the baby will start enjoying (and be easily distracted by) flashing lights, especially when accompanied with music. This is fun to play with but also really handy when your little angel is having a crying fit or getting shots at the doctor. They can really only focus on one thing at a time, so why not make it sounds and lights?! Baby Einstein’s Take Along Tunes worked like a charm for us!
We all know what’s necessary when bringing a baby home: onesies, bottles, and pacifiers. This other stuff just helps the process, which can be one of the most amazing but most difficult things you’ll ever do! Why not make it as fun and enjoyable for everyone? Just remember, keep it simple and don’t overbuy. They’ll likely outgrow it all in a short time anyway. I’m sure everyone’s list is different so what worked for you? What did I leave out?