Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thoughtful Baby Gift Guide

There are so many ways to shop for gifts for a new baby. Some people like to stick strictly to the registry. Others buy online weeks ahead of the occasion. Many pick up a present on the way to the baby shower. For those looking for a baby gift that won't blend in with the avalanche of newborn onesies and receiving blankets that most new moms receive, here are some thoughtful and creative gift suggestions.

Think Big Picture.  Mom is going to receive a lot of newborn and 0-3 sized clothing, but that baby is going to grow and depending on the clothing brand, some babies come home from the hospital in 3-6 sized clothing.  If you want to select a clothing or other age-related gift, think big picture:  that little newborn is going to be a six month old in the blink of an eye, so check out the 3-6 and 6-9 selections.  Just remember to keep the climate in mind:  a Wisconsin baby born in December probably won't have much use for warm fleece jammies in size 6-9.

If you want to avoid clothing altogether, remember that there are plenty of other age-dependent gifts that mom will appreciate long after baby outgrows all his newborn onesies.  The Constructive Eating utensil set is a fun gift that mom will love when she introduces solids, and baby will enjoy once he begins exploring the world of self-feeding.  These utensils: a forklift fork, a front-loader spoon and a bulldozer utensil to push food around, make a great gift.  Pair the utensils with the Constructive Eating plate, with its ramps and steps, for a great gift for around $30.00.

Do you Etsy?  As though you don't already know, is a fantastic place to shop for all kinds of handmade and vintage gifts including some of the most fabulous baby items that you just can't find at Target or Babies R'Us.  Need some inspiration?  How about some custom blocks spelling out baby's name?  Or an adorable hat perfect for the newborn photography shoot?  A monogrammed newborn gift set?  The possibilities are as endless as the creativity of the Etsy sellers and a handmade gift is likely to be one of mom and baby's most memorable presents.

Know mom's feeding plans and philosophies.  Is mom planning on breastfeeding?  A package of breastfeeding care items can make a very thoughtful gift, particularly because mom doesn't always anticipate the challenges of breastfeeding.  A Twitter reader suggested So That's What They're For, Janet Tamaro's friendly and encouraging breastfeeding primer as a great read for mom. Pair that with some lanolin, nursing pads, some nutritious ready-to-eat snacks and hot/cold packs for a nice gift that will get much more use than even the cutest receiving blanket.

Helping Hands.  A gift certificate for the services of a post-partum doula may be the ultimate gift for a new mom.  The post-partum doula can help educate mom and the entire family on new baby care, she can assist with breastfeeding issues, and she can help mom attain the level of confidence she needs to have in her own ability to respond to her newborn's needs.  A great FAQ on post-partum doulas can be found here.

Did you wait until the last minute?  That's okay, it happens to everyone once in awhile.  Here's a gift idea that you can get at Target or Wal-Mart that isn't exactly pretty, but it may be one of mom and baby's most used items in those first few months (and beyond - my son still loves his!).  Moms everywhere swear by the Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Soothe and Glow Seahorse.   Squeeze Seahorse's belly and he'll play soft music with quiet ocean sounds for a full five minutes.  The soft sounds and warm, comforting glow can help lull baby to sleep.  The Seahorse (Cecil, in our house) is relatively inexpensive, so you can pair him with some other soothing items - Aveno's Lavender Calming Lotion or some fabulous Burt's Bees baby products for a thoughtful gift that mom will definitely appreciate when she's trying to convince her little one that thirty minutes of sleep at a time just isn't enough.

And, some final advice:  Unless you are shopping off of a registry, buying things like bottles and pacifiers are best avoided unless you know what mom's plans are regarding bottle feeding and pacifier use.  Don't make any assumptions based on your own experiences or philosophies, and don't assume that mom is going to change her mind once the baby arrives.  Let her be confident in her own decisions - there are plenty of other great, far more thoughtful gifts out there.

Readers, what were some of your most thoughtful shower gifts?  What did you wish you had received?


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