A few people have asked me for baby gift ideas this year and since it’s a season of gift giving, I figured I’d write em all down. I’m not one of those trend experts or anything-this is just a list of what we’ve loved (and, it turns out, an excuse for me to unabashedly indulge in posting cute pictures of James.)
First, I’d like to tell you about this little site called Etsy. It’s a goldmine for meaningful baby gifts. A simple search of key words can turn up things you never ever realized you would desire with all of your heart. For example, I was thinking about an ‘enchanted forest’ nursery theme and a quick search turned up this mystical crib mobile. More expensive than your average mobile, but better quality and hand-made by a real artist (not in China!). There are more Etsy examples below, but if you know mom-to-be well enough to have a few clutch key words, you might come up with something unexpected and unique.
Food: Cooking is a herculean (and sometimes impossible) effort for parents with a newborn. Every time someone brought me food, I thought I would fall over with gratitude. (Note to parents to be, freezing a few meals ahead of time is a VERY GOOD idea.) My sister-in-law told me someone got her a frozen meal service for a month. That would be incredible, but popping by with one delicious dish for parents to pop in their oven will make their day and then some.
Cute, awesome, functional
Padraig Cottage baby booties. These are THE gift among Canadian moms. For good reason: they are adorable, warm and actually stay on baby feet (a big deal, believe me!) The three month size have fit James from 2-9 months and are still going strong. I don’t know what I would do without these booties.
Bandana bibs. Babies drool. A lot. These bibs jazz up any outfit and help your baby’s getup last more than 10 minutes before getting totally soaked. (An easy sewing project for any sewers out there!)
Baby bear suit. If Mom and Baby live in even mildly cold places, you just can’t go wrong with a baby bear suit. If it brings you joy to see a baby in a bear suit, you should try snuggling them in one. Heart melter.
About baby but is actually for Mom: Baby is going to get lots and lots of things. It was always a pleasant surprise to get something that was actually for me but still about the baby.
Initial Necklace: A quick search on Easy turns up a lot, but something like this is so sweet. I wear my J necklace every day and my heart swoons when he tugs on it – I think, yeah that’s you baby.
Artwork: We called James “bear cub” in-utero and I was really into the idea of the little dipper (the little bear in the sky) representing him. Dan did an Etsy search and stumbled on this sweet print. Here’s another site devoted to modern nursery art. I also adore the “I love you” state prints a couple of friends got me from Three Fish Studios.
Massage gift certificates: An hour alone in a dark room with someone tending to her exhausted aching body is every new mom’s dream.
Dinner gift certificate with offer to babysit: Adult couple time is a precious commodity for new parents.
Aden and Anais swaddle blankets. They are the best. They just are.
Sophie the giraffe. Wait $25 for a rubber giraffe? I know. But there’s not a baby in this wide world who has not loved Sophie. I call her James’ girlfriend because he is always making out with her.
Board books. Sending your most beloved children’s book is a great idea. Our library is completely composed of the books people sent to us.
Footie PJ’s. All parents need a steady stream in all sizes!
Practical gifts from experienced parents – I really appreciated gifts from moms who knew what I would need because I had no idea. Amazing to have these things around when I suddenly needed them. Desperately. My boss even gave me his favorite diaper rash cream- which is so appreciated- How am I to know which ones really work? If you’re a parent, think about the things you relied on.
Svaan Signet Complete high chair: My in-laws went in on this together. It’s beautiful (yes, a beautiful high chair!) and will last James through toddler hood.
Hands-free breast pumping bra (or should I say ‘Easy Expression Bustier’?): There are few promotional photos I love more than the ones for this. This lady makes me want pump all day long – so well-coiffed, serene and productive! If only! My reality was more of an unwashed hair-frumpy robe-bloodshot eyes kind of situation. But it sure was nice to not have to hold those damn suction cups on my boobs.
Baby au-lait apron: A must for breastfeeding moms.
Handmade. If you have a talent and time, handmade gifts are the absolute best. I love seeing James play, snuggle and wear some of the things that our friends made with love.
Other things I loved (for moms thinking about their baby registry). My mom pushed me to put together a baby registry for her out of town friends. It was a bit of a shot in the dark for me- I really didn’t know what I would need. Of course, everyone is different, these are just the things I found awesome and sometimes life changing.
EXERCISE BALL: I had a near-romantic relationship with our exercise ball when James was a newborn. Often, it was the ONLY thing that would soothe him (I’ve heard many many moms say the same). Dan and I bounced on that damn thing for hours.
Baby carriers: Turns out I’m a bit of a baby carrier nut. You certainly do not need all of these carriers, but they all served a purpose for us.
The Ring Sling (tons of companies make them) saved my life in the beginning. James slept so well in it, and I would pop him in while I was around the house or on short walks. Not the best support for longer walks, but super easy to put on/take off.
Moby Wrap: Snuggly and comfortable, especially for the early months. Kind of a headache to get on, but you get used to it and James and I loved loved loved it. Warm too.
Ergo Baby: If I were to do it again, I would get the Ergo 360, because babies like to face forward sometimes. But I adore my Ergo Baby. Someone gave me their Ergo Baby Performance, which is great if you like to hike or take really long walks (the cotton ones can get very hot and sweaty). Importantly, James sleeps like a dream in this carrier. Now that J is bigger, I put him the backpack position and he loves it.
Bouncy chair and swing. I agonized over these: Do I need both?! “It depends on your baby” people told me. How am I ever to know which my baby will love?! Gah! Well I ended up with both and used both. The swing is great for naps when they are newborns and the bouncy chair becomes necessary for a place to put them down and play with them before they can sit on their own. Basically, both are excellent for newborns – moms need somewhere to put baby down where they won’t burst into screams. There are plenty of these out there, but we had the Snugga Bunny and the MamaRoo.
Play mat/gym. If I had a nickel for the hours logged under this thing.
Sleeping bags. When it’s time to stop swaddling, sleeping bags are perfect. When I zip James into his sleeping bag, he knows it’s naptime. The 6-18 month size makes a lot of sense. Particularly love the GroBag (warm for cold weather) and the Aden and Anais (lightweight for warmer weather).
Tranquil Turtle. Noise machine and magical light show. Lately, we’ve loved to watch the turtle with James just after he wakes up. He’s totally mesmerized. (My only beef with this product is that it turns off after 20 minutes or so. In retrospect, I may have gotten a plug in noise machine that stays on. White noise really does help them sleep!)
Monte Como Glider and ottoman. Ok this one is a little more spendy- but it might be the kind of thing a group of people could go in on. And boy do I love this chair. It looks good AND is the most comfortable thing I have ever sat in. Also: it’s a Toronto company and the chairs are actually built in Canada. New moms: do not underestimate the amount of time you will spend in a chair/glider in those early weeks and months. Make sure you love it in every way. (Although it’s expensive, I highly recommend getting an ottoman. You won’t regret it!)
Bassinet. Someone handed down their Babyhome and we used it all the time for the first six months. It’s light and travels well. Proved especially useful for camping! We could fit it in a three man tent with us and was safe and comfortable for all. Other moms I know have loved co-sleeper style bassinets like this and this (way easier to reach for your baby for nursing at night – the Babyhome is pretty deep, which makes it harder).