Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gifts New Parents REALLY Need

I was able to briefly stop in at the joint baby shower for two of my coworkers today and was reminded of how fun giving baby gifts can be. The board books! The cute onesies! Baby gifts are so fun to shop for! And so fun to get!

But after having a few babies, I've come to realize that no one gives the gifts that new parents really NEED. So I'm trying to compile a list of gifts to ask for that will really be useful. By the way, you might not want to give these at a baby shower. People might stare...

1. A waterproof mattress protector for the parents' bed. Mom and Dad may not wet the bed anymore, but baby sure will. At some point, baby will end up in the bed. And so will her spit-up. Or vomit. Or pee. Or poop. Or all of the above. Don't underestimate the projectile powers of small humans. You don't want your bed to smell like a bad night with your baby when you're trying to have a good night with your spouse.

2. Baby washcloths. There are thousands of uses for baby washcloths: wiping bums, wiping faces, wiping noses, wiping spit-up, wiping hands, wiping grimy feet, etc, etc. Buy them by the dozens. Even if you're not a pseudo-hippie who cloth diapers and makes homemade diaper wipe solution, you'll get years of functionality out of your washcloths.

3. A nice pair of yoga pants. The chances are good that you'll spend stretches of time not showering, and sleeping in your clothes. Do this in pajamas? You look like a redneck. Do this in nice yoga pants? You look athletic. Do this while toting a newborn? You look like a super mom. Who do you want to look like?

4. Tank tops. If you decide to nurse, you need nursing tanks. They're lifesavers. If you don't nurse, you need long tanks to cover the muffin tops that your baby will bring you on his birthday. They're lifesavers. Either way, you need new tank tops.

5. Some source of repetitive motion for your baby. Newborns like motion. If you're a hippie, tie your baby to your body with a long strip of fabric and get moving. Pray your baby sleeps at night so you can too. Only a pseudo-hippie? Get an exercise ball and a Baby Bjorn and start bouncing while you check email and watch TV. Again, pray you have a good sleeper. Want your baby moving while you lie comatose? Get a swing/sway/vibrate contraption. Or better yet, borrow one from a friend. You really don't want to take up valuable basement space when you're done with it.

6. A source of constant white noise. Some babies don't need them. Our first child required it to sleep through the night. And as I was working full time after she was born, I required it to sleep through the night. We were able to borrow a specific baby sound machine from a fancy gadget store. You could program it to fade out after a specific amount of time, or just keep going all night long. Both settings were helpful. We discovered that an iPod with a downloaded waterfall track will stand in for the white noise machine. But you need something.

7. Boob supplies. Planning on nursing? You need supplies for that: lanolin, nursing pads, soothies, APNO, etc. They're pricey and add up fast. Not planning on nursing? You might want a little something to help dry up all that milk. There are herbs and teas to help. And there's plain old Sudafed, which will do the trick.  Whatever your view on your baby and your boobs, you will need supplies.

8. A bottle and some formula. Whether or not you decide to nurse, you can benefit from a bottle and some formula. Now, don't call the La Leche League on me. I KNOW that your baby doesn't need formula and a bottle, because "Breast is Best." Of course it is. Your darling will do just fine on a never-ending, every-two-hour, 24/7, on-demand supply of breast milk. YOU on the other hand might want someone else to do a feeding. Or maybe just a 9 hour stretch of sleep. That's when you need a bottle and some formula. So that you can sleep without your baby starving or screaming for 9 hours. And you might want to start that bottle early on and keep it up on a regular basis. We waited too long for our second kid, and she refused to take anything but the boob until she was 6 months old. That was a very LLOOONNNGGG 6 months!

Ok, that's all I've got for now. Hey, experienced moms out there, what would YOU add to the list?


  1. Loved these flannel covered rubber crib mat squares; do they still make them? Saved me from washing crib sheets many times. And look for the nylon reusable breast pads. I found they were much more comfortable than the disposable ones.

    1. We're using a version of the rubber crib mat right now for night time potty training. Great stuff.

  2. I've been wearing yoga pants almost every day since about month 7 of pregnancy. I'm wearing them now. And toting a newborn, lacking a shower... I'm absurdly pleased to think I might look 'athletic' rather than 'pathetic'.
    So I second your opinions on yoga pants and baby washcloths especially. And I suggest that no one can ever have enough waterproof pads. Because strollers and car seats have washable covers, but do you really want to strip it off and wash it all the time? A little pad right under the butt just in case of poo-splosions is a lifesaver. Saved me today, in fact. Just pick it up and toss it in the laundry instead of figuring out the snaps, etc. on the stroller or car seat. Because I'm not a bad diaperer, but newborn liqui-poop just can't always be contained.
    The other thing that would be a good gift to new parents is the emergency car kit. We have one in our car at all times in case we forget the diaper bag (usually sitting right by the door!) or forget to stock it. It contains: extra plastic bags, a couple diapers (remember to update it as they grow), wipes in a ziploc, hand sanitizer, a small tube of sunscreen, a receiving blanket, a bottle of water and power bars or some durable snack. We don't use it often (except the food), but when we've needed it... phew! L once came home with nothing on but the blanket.

    1. Great idea. I might have to steal that one...

  3. I have given rechargeable batteries and a charger!