Baby showers can be such a blessing when you’re pregnant and lacking in baby essentials. Unfortunately, you’ll find yourself being constantly asked, “so, what do you need?”, only to draw a blank. So, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are fabulous gifts to both give or receive for a baby shower:
A gift voucher for a maternity or newborn photo session. I take nice photos. I like to take them of pregnant women and babies. What a coincidence! Contact me at email@example.com or 0439 435 287 for more information. (Self-serving, yes, but still a good suggestion.)
Clothes – always a baby shower favourite, because baby clothes are just so cute, and guarantee a resounding “awww” when opened at the baby shower. While it’s more practical to buy the basics, it’s also nice to have a few outfits that are a bit special, and that the parents might not want to spend the money on themselves. I’m sure either way, basics or fancy, would be appreciated. I wouldn’t bother buying any smaller than 0000 sized, and consider the option of buying a few outfits sized for when the baby is closer to six or twelve months.
Singlets are always handy, as are bodysuits, or onesies, if you will. Booties are cute to get, even though usually only stay on baby feet for about forty seconds. Socks are slightly more likely to stay on.
Hats are cute and practical at the same time. Sunhat for Summer, beanies for Winter. The Cancer Council store has great sunhats in small sizes, but they’re still not likely to fit a newborn. I love Oobi beanies. Bonds beanies are also very handy for newborns, because they actually fit them. Once babies are a bit older they will tear those hats off as fast as their limited fine motor skills will allow, so hats with ties are a good idea.
Bibs – the bibs from Cotton On Kids are fantastic. Try and avoid white bibs. They will not stay white.
A nappy bag is a good idea, but probably only a good option if you know the style the Mummy likes. They have to carry it around for the next few years, so it’s best to make sure they like the one they get. Depending on the brand, some nappy bags are also quite expensive, so perhaps it could be a joint present from a few people.
A portable change mat to keep in the nappy bag.
A baby carrier. Don’t get a sling. Again, get a feel for what the Mummy likes before buying one. They can be expensive, and everyone has different preferences. Ergo baby carriers are amazing and life-changing. Just saying.
A pack of old-school terry towelling nappies.
A nappy disposal bin (if using disposables).
Modern cloth nappies, if they have decided to use them.
Car window shields, including a rear window one.
Baby sleeping bags, such as a Grobag.
Baby books. Board books are great, or books that baby can chew on. I highly recommend Where is the Green Sheep?, 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes, and A Very Hungry Caterpillar. For newborns, books with simple black and white contrasts and patterns are best; for older babies, bright colours and mirrors; and rhyming and repetitive language books are a hit for toddlers.
Lullaby music on CDs or DVDs. You don’t have to play music that makes you want to tear your ears off though. My boys listen to Angus & Julia Stone at bedtime at the moment, and we’ve always been sure to play them a variety of beautiful and peaceful music at bedtime, not just traditional lullabies. You can also find songs of bands such as Radiohead and Metallica made into lullabies, called Rockabye Baby (http://www.rockabyebabymusic.com/), if that is more to the parents’ taste.
Cot or bassinet sheets – but be sure to check the size of the mattress. Boori cots are larger than the standard, and need Boori sized sheets. Don’t forget mattress protectors also.
Blankets for cot, bassinet or pram. Knitted, jersey, fluffy – they’re all good.
A sheepskin – but be sure to check for skin sensitivities. Sheepskins may inflame some skin types. I’m a bit partial to sheep skins just because I had one when I was a baby, and Mum took it everywhere with us. She would just lay it down on the floor anywhere, and I’d curl up on it and go to sleep.
An activity mat for baby to lie on.
A baby rocker or swing.
Baby toys, including bath toys. Sure, they’re not going to play with them to start with, but it won’t be long before they’re grasping squeaky toys, chewing on a Sophie the Giraffe, shaking baby-sized maracas, splashing with a rubber ducky, and curling up with a Lambie. Fisher Price makes great developmentally appropriate toys. Things with strong, contrasting colours, that crinkle and squeak when the baby plays with it, with (safe) mirrors, with different textures, are all fantastic.
Don’t forget toys to hang off the pram or car seat.
Teething rings, or similar teething toys. Sophie the Giraffe is the chew toy du jour, and a staple of baby shower gifts.
Mobile, for either over the cot or over the change table. Note that a cot mobile may not be used for very long. By the time the baby can sit up, it needs to be taken down as it becomes a strangling hazard. We had a great bouncing elephant on a spring for over the change table that still gets a delighted smile out of my little ones.
Photo albums or frames.
Other “memory” items, such as baby footprint and handprint sets. Check out The Stork Nest’s “gift” section for other great ideas.
A breastfeeding cover and breastfeeding pillow.
A soft-lit lamp for the baby’s room.
Burping cloths – although you can just use terry towelling nappies for this purpose.
Towel and washers.
Cups, plates and spoons for when baby starts solids.
Baby recipe book. Annabel Karmel comes highly recommended. I absolutely love “Feeding Fussy Kids” by Dr Julie Maree Woods. It is really fantastic. So many great tips on increasing the nutrients in your children’s food, and wonderful advice on encouraging healthy and varied eating. It doesn’t have a huge amount of information on starting solids, but really, I’ve never really understood the need for an entire recipe book for pureed food. “Cook food. Puree.”. It’s not rocket science.
An assortment of items such as baby shampoo, baby wash, creams, baby wipes, newborn disposable nappies, baby oil, baby manicure set, booger suckers, thermometer, Sudocream, and so forth. I personally wouldn’t buy any Johnson’s skin products, despite their proliferation in the baby product aisle, because I found they did terrible things to my sensitive skinned babies. I have used MooGoo shampoo, wash and cream on my two munchkins since Alex was six months old and started getting eczema. There are lots of lovely natural baby washes and creams out there, and they are much better for the baby’s skin than Johnsons or similar brands. I love Gaia, Akin, Mustela and Alpha Keri. MooGoo is completely free of mineral oil and lots of other nasties, and I can tell the difference when I’ve stopped using it for a few days.
Other options could be contributing towards larger items, like a cot, car seat, pram, and so on, but that’s really up to personal preference. If that is what the new parents would like, one of the hosts could provide bank account details that people can direct debit money into, which some people prefer these days in our cashless society.
I believe some stores have a concept now where the parents lay-by a range of goods, and then the lay-by number is shared among baby shower guests, and they are welcome to go in and pay whatever amount they would like off the lay-by. Just a rumour though, I can’t confirm which stores do this.
Another thoughtful idea, if not many baby items are needed, is a “voucher” for the parents for things such as: babysitting for them, so they can enjoy a few hours out by themselves, child-free; meals cooked for them (especially in the first few weeks); or some housekeeping, such as doing a few loads of washing, cleaning the bathroom, or washing the floors. This might be particularly helpful for new parents that don’t have a lot of family support around them.
Above all, consider the needs and wishes of the new parents when buying for them. If they have limited space, buying them a huge baby swing, or a gigantic stuffed animal might be more of a burden than a blessing. Having said that, while it’s great to be practical, it’s also lovely to have pretty but less useful baby items, so don’t be afraid to spoil, as long as it’s not against the parents’ wishes.
Just remember, the best gift you can give (or receive) is unwavering support, and being a part of the metaphorical “village” that raises that baby, and that will be remembered and appreciated much longer than cute stuffed animal you gave at the baby shower.