Baby shower gifts – the do’s and the don’ts
Trying to come up with something to buy a friend, family member or co-worker as a baby gift can be daunting. As someone who’s given gifts and received them, here are my top pics for baby shower or baptism gifts, whether you know the person intimately, or just barely:
The Top 10 baby gifts I was most stoked to get:
Anything off my registry
Seems boring and predictable, right? It wasn’t to me. If this is her first baby, she needs a lot of stuff, and she has hand-picked everything on that registry because she wants and needs it all. Whatever she doesn’t get, she’s probably going to go out and get herself anyway. Even if she’s got something unsexy like a nasal aspirator (and thanks to my cousin for purchasing the one I had on my registry!), get the unsexy gift because she truly needs and wants it, then throw in something fun.
A Baby Gap gift card
Also boring and predictable? Nah! Baby Gap has the cutest clothes at the most outrageous prices. Chances are she wants to dress her child exclusively in Baby Gap. Chances are she’ll mostly shop at Carter’s and Joe Fresh. So let her have a few head-turning outfits that don’t require her to re-mortgage her home.
Portable sleep sheep white noise machine
Adan and Anais muslin swaddles
They’re soft, they’re stylish, and they’re multi-purpose. They can be swaddles, spit-up cloths, stroller shades, blankets for the park. Love, love, love these. They’re also expensive, so getting something so extravagent was extra exciting.
Beautiful, classic books
… especially if they had special meaning to the gift-giver. We had a Build-the-Baby-a-Library shower and everyone brought their favourite childhood book. Isla got some wonderful books: Winnie the Pooh, the Velveteen Rabbit, the Wind in the Willows, the Peter Rabbit treasury. Some of them are beautiful picture books that will become a treasured part of bedtime as she gets older. Others are simply childhood classics like Robert Munsch’s Guess How Much I Love You and Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Not everyone is crafty in this department, but if you are, take advantage. We got tons of baby blankets but my favourites are the two my sisters-in-law crocheted for Isla. My dad’s secretary knitted us three sets of baby booties, which I also treasured.
Something personal to the gift-giver
Obviously, this isn’t something you’d give your husband’s co-worker’s wife who you’ve only met twice, but if you have something special to pass down, it will be treasured. My grandfather gave Isla his silver baby spoon. My husband’s father gave us my husband’s baby blanket, jacket and booties, which his granny knitted for him as his home-from-the-hospital outfit. My mom got us a rosary she bought for baby at Notre Dame in Paris while I was still pregnant, and a set of the same Bunnykins baby bowls we had as kids. My brother, who is a health foodie, got us a cute set of plush veggies and fruits. It was all very sweet.
Subscription to Today’s Parent magazine
M&M Meats gift card/a stocked freezer
A membership to the Art Gallery
Baby and I spent many a lovely afternoon strolling the quiet rooms. I know this isn’t for everyone, but it was nice to get a gift that encouraged me to get out and that catered to my personal interest.
Other no-fail ideas:
– Gifts sets that reflect the parents’ interests-
Is mom an avid baker or cook? Get a matching mom and tot apron and a family cookbook (it’s okay that baby won’t be able to use it for a few years)
Is she eco-conscious? Get her a cloth diaper starter kit, a pack of cloth diaper-friendly detergent and diaper cream.
Is she organic and all-natural? Make up a basket of natural baby shampoo, diaper cream and lotion. Or a basket of home-made natural cleaning products complete with the ingredients and recipes.
Are the parents photo buffs? A onesie with a camera on the front and a book on how to photograph babies and kids.
Sports fans? How about a onesie from their favourite team’s pro shop with baby’s last name printed on the back?
Is baby growing up in a multi-lingual household? What about getting the parents a classic book like Winnie the Pooh in Polish or German?
– Gifts for people you don’t really know –
Books. You really can’t go wrong. Include a gift receipt.
Clothes baby can grow into. She’s going to get a zillion newborn items and onesies. Surprise her by shopping in the toddler section and get a couple really cute outfits for down the line.
A bedtime bliss gift pack: a swaddle or sleep sack, a sleep sheep, lavender-infused baby lotion, ear plugs for mom and dad and a book on sleep training.
A bathtime bliss gift pack: a baby tub, baby shampoo and talcum powder, wash cloths, a rubber ducky and a cute hooded terrycloth towel. Get travel-size versions of soaps and lotions in case they irritate baby’s skin. There’s nothing worse than getting rid of a Costco-sized Johnsons and Johnsons baby wash.
An on-the-go gift pack: extra diapers, wipes, baby food or formula, a few onesies and a couple toys in a cute little bag. I try to keep one of these kits in my car at all times.
An uh-oh gift pack: baby Tylenol, thermometer, nasal aspirator, diaper rash cream, clippers, and a book on childhood ailments and treatments
– Gifts she’s going to get a LOT of –
Newborn and infant toys, like Sophie
Books. I know I keep selling books, but I’ll be honest, she’s going to get lots of them. So make yours stand out.
– Gifts she should pick on her own –
(unless it’s on the registry)
Bottles and soothers (she may be against “artificial” nipples)
Baby toiletries (unless you know what she likes. I found this to be a very personal choice, and I wanted to pick the brand myself – plus babies can be sensitive to lots of products)
Nursery decor and furniture (again, unless you know her theme or sense of style, this could be a recipe for disaster)
Large toys like exercausers, swings, rocking horses and activity centres (I have a small house – I had to steer lots of people away from big gifts)
Anything that could be seen as frivolous (baby monitors, wipe warmers, bottle sterilizers, diaper genies). Some people swear by these. Some think they’re useless. Play it safe and let her decide.
– Just for for mom –
This is advice my mom gave me years ago. She said people always think of the baby, but the mom is the one who went through the pregnancy, childbirth and now (if dad is going right back to work) the hours of nursing, rocking, soothing and not sleeping. So include something special for her.
Previously forbidden foods! A grocery basket of things she couldn’t eat while she was pregnant, like soft cheeses, wine and cured meats
A night out. In that same vein, a voucher for a Japanese (she can eat raw fish again!) restaurant and an offer to babysit
Leave the dishes in the sink. A voucher for a cleaning service. I would have fainted with joy if I had been given one
Glossy. A couple magazines, or even a subscription
Motherhood is relaxing? A voucher for a pre- or post-natal massage and/or spa treatment
Treat yo-self! A gift basket of indulgent items like foot scrub and nail polish, a face mask, chocolate, wine, and a bunch of trashy magazines
I’ve got dinner covered. Don’t-worry-about-cooking gifts like a gift card to M&M or home-cooked food like casseroles and muffins, which she can freeze
– Just for for dad –
Lit’rature. Dylan got several of these books – sarcastic and yet surprisingly useful users’ guides, and more poignant books about fatherhood.
Music. This isn’t necessarily just for dad. I’ve tried very hard to avoid getting Isla hooked on nursery rhymes, and for other like-minded parents, there are cool kid-focused albums out there that cater to their parents’ musical taste. Check out the Rockabye Baby collection (Radiohead, Nirvana, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the list goes on…), which turns famous bands’ music to lullabies. I also picked up Music For Little Hipsters at Starbucks and it hasn’t left our car’s CD player in months.
Clothes. Onesies from his favourite sports team or band? Cute T-shirts with bow-ties, or outfits that reflect his profession? So many ideas!
Gift baskets! They could include: pain killer, ear plugs, energy bars or drinks, rattles, booze, a dad’s survival guide, pacifiers, and even a dude-friendly diaper bag.
– Something for the whole family –
Whaddup big sister! A gift for an older sibling that encourages them to be jazzed about the new baby – like a book, or an “I’m the big sister” stuffy for the older kid, and a smaller, matching “I’m the little sister” for the new baby. I get these at Indigo.
Help create family memories. A voucher or membership to the zoo or aquarium
Veg out at home. A gift bag for Friday or Saturday night fun. Cuz not all parents are super stoked to give up their weekends – at least we can help them find a new way to have fun.
– Still not inspired? This all seem too expensive? –
Find the nearest baby boutique and grab a couple fun things from the display near the cash: a cute cute felt finger puppets, a soft rattle and a set of baby socks, then stop at the drug store to pick up a chocolate bar and a sparkly nail polish for mom. I would have been thrilled with this! And it doesn’t take an agonizing amount of planning or cash.
It can be overwhelming trying to think of the perfect baby gift, but with a little planning, you can give something perfect regardless of your budget!
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