A few years ago, I was invited to a baby shower and I didn’t have a clue what I should bring for the new parents-to-be. Shopping for baby gifts is an incredibly daunting and intimidating experience when you’re not a mom or dad yourself, because it’s a whole new world filled with all new jargon. And then, when and if you become a parent yourself, the experience will be even more stressful for an overwhelming myriad of reasons.
Now that I’ve lived the stay-at-home dad lifestyle for over a year, I’ve become a little more familiar with this territory. I’m a little more prepared to recommend some great baby gifts that you might consider buying for your friends or family members who may soon be parents themselves. Before starting with this humble list, I’d like to offer a couple of important caveats.
First, you don’t know if the new parents plan on using disposable or cloth diapers — and even if you do, they may develop certain brand preferences — so I’d avoid giving either as a gift. Second, you don’t know if they plan on breastfeeding, formula feeding or mixed feeding, so I’d avoid any baby gifts related to bottle warmers and the like too. With that out of the way, what should you be getting?
For the Nursery
One of the biggest challenges that any new parent is going to face is figuring out how to put their little one to sleep… and they’ll need to do this about 8 to 12 times a day for the first while. The Cloud b Sleep Sheep ($30 to $60) and its variations, like the Nighty Night Owl shown above, is a good place to start. It’s meant to be a white noise machine, playing soothing sounds to lull the baby to sleep. You might remember when I reviewed it last year.
And although white noise is not its primary function, the Crane Adorable Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($34 to $40) can be pretty useful for that purpose too. This will depend on the climate in your area, but having a cool mist humidifier can help the baby breathe more easily. And it’s awfully cute too.
Feeding and Burping
Whether the parents plan on breastfeeding or bottle feeding, the Leachco Cuddle-U Nursing Pillow ($25) comes highly recommended as one of the better baby gifts you can offer. It can be used as a great nursing pillow, to be sure, but it also grows with baby to help with sitting and with tummy time. This versatility adds a good deal of value.
Something else I learned is that new babies tend to be like open milk cartons. Jostle them just a bit and they become massive spit-up monsters. You can never have too many burp cloths and new moms and dads will always want to have one within reach or already on their shoulder. The Gerber terry burp cloths ($6 for a 3-pack) are pretty decent for the price.
Diaper and Skin Care
Babies have very sensitive skin, particularly in the diaper area. What we found was effective but gentle was anything that had calendula in it. Two products in particular that we use extensively are the Wedela Calendula Diaper Rash Cream ($10) and the Badger Baby Balm ($7). We tried some other diaper rash creams and found they just weren’t as good.
For Mom and Dad
You can’t take care of a baby if you haven’t taken care of yourself. And so, we complete this list of baby gifts with a couple of possible gifts for the new mom and dad. They’re going to be sleep deprived and caffeine will become an obvious requirement.
I personally enjoy my AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker ($30) tremendously, because it is so convenient and brews up a nice strong cup of Joe. If you want to make more than one cup at a time, the Bodum Brazil French Press Coffee Maker ($16) is another solid option.
And to all the new parents out there, know that you are not alone. Most of your points of stress and worry are actually quite common. At the end of the day, if you approach this new responsibility from a place of love, you’ll be alright. It gets better.