Many times when we think of giving a gift to a couple that is expecting a baby we think of socks, toys, clothes, fancy lotions, hats, and baby blankets. What non-parents (and even some parents) don’t realize is that these things are hardly needed OR used… ever. Babies don’t begin to play with toys until they are about 3-4 months old, and even then they can’t hold things other than lightweight toys with rings or plastic ring toys.
Buying a practical gift for parents shows them that you want to help them with the burden of buying what I call “baby necessities” : diapers, wipes, burp cloths/swaddle blankets, crib and mattress and bedding, traveling crib, bottles, bottle drying rack, bottle cleaner brush, formula (if using), breastfeeding supplies (nursing pillow, nipple pads, car seat(s), stroller(s), baby spoons, baby bathtub and cleaning supplies (towels, washcloths, soap, bath toys and books) etc etc. A lot of these things aren’t offered as gifts because 1) some are kind of awkward to give, 2) you don’t know what their feeding plan is (formula or breastmilk), 3) you don’t know which specific items they want, and 4) most people shop last-minute. Some parents are super picky about the specific item (like THIS carseat VS that one) and others are happy so long as they get an item similar enough (this is me).
Enter the baby registry. While I am not a huge fan of buying oodles of new things, most people feel like a cheapskate if they give the parents a used item. Now there’s a difference between used and USED. It’s like the difference between a shirt that looks nice still and could pass for new VS one that has stains, holes, etc. I am a MAJOR fan of reduce, reuse, recycle, so most of the things I bought for myself with my own money were used (albeit the “baby necessities”)- either from baby consignment shops, Craig’s List, Ebay, baby resale shops or resale events, hand-me-downs, daycare centers going out of business, or through local groups on FB for selling baby and children items.
The best way I found to be money savvy while still giving people options is to create a registry on MyRegistry.com. What’s so great about it is that you can add items from ANY store to it (to get the cheapest price or convenience of online shopping-only stores like Amazon). You can have 30 different stores with different items in your registry all in one place. The person can buy the item straight from the registry or go into a store to purchase it then log into MyRegistry.com and check the box of the item they purchased. I used this site but only 2 people out of all of them at my baby shower looked at this list.
Some of the best gifts for new parents : (these specific items are my opinions, but most parents probably have similar preferences)
-burp cloths (we use “receiving blankets” as burp cloths- they’re larger, nicer fabric, and multi-puropse functionality)
-baby bathtub with “seat positioner” so baby doesn’t slide down
-QUALITY baby & mama care products – diaper rash, baby oil, shampoo, body wash, nipple butter (for breastfeeding mamas), mama bottom spray (great for postpartum healing “down there”, etc (the brand Earth Mama, Angel Baby has wonderful products ! Johnson & Johnson is low-quality and contains harsh chemicals and numbing agents)
-bottles- we love Avent bottles the most (we’ve tried Medela and Dr. Brown’s as well)
-gripe water- this helps baby with problems from teething to spit-up to colic to other issues. we buy a brand called “Colic Ease” because it doesn’t contain chemicals, only natural ingredients. It’s kind of pricey but lasts a long time since you only use 1 tsp at a time. This particular one doesn’t need to be refrigerated after being opened. It smells like licorice/fennel. It’s also good for adult heartburn.
-play mat- this is a mat that goes on the floor that has arches above it with toys dangling down. young babies (as young as 2 months old) love to bat at the toys on these. You can get them used for $15 or new for like $50.
-Tylenol for children- this is a lifesaver for when baby is teething and nothing else helps. for our son it helps him go to sleep if he’s in pain from teething
-high chair- this can be used as early as 3 months if the seat has a slight recline to it. you can either get a traditional highchair or one that sits ontop of a dining room table chair (straps to it in 2 directions). The latter is good as a space-saver and is cheaper while the former is usually better quality and can sometimes be folded away.