Nice gifts for new parents
February 23, 2005 4:46 PM   Subscribe

A dear friend just became a father (scant hours ago.) He and I go back a long way, and I'd love to do something nice for the new parents. My wife, a master knitter, is already at work on various soft and cuddly baby items, but having no similar handcrafting talents, I am looking for something purchasable that would be appreciated by a new father, mother, and male infant.

Added degree of difficulty: I am on the East Coast, they are on the West Coast, so it must be something shippable/deliverable by a third party. All suggestions, particularly from recent parents, welcome.
posted by enrevanche to Shopping (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a recent daddy, soon to be daddy x 2. I highly recommend the Ergo Baby Carrier. It's the most comfortable baby carrier I've used, and it's good from birth until they'd rather walk.
posted by pmbuko at 5:00 PM on February 23, 2005

Aside from a personal, meaningful gift, send them some food they can heat and eat.

I'm from Chicago, so I sent my friends some heat 'n' eat deep dish pizzas from Lou Malnati's. This gift went over HUGE... They'll be busy and need easy, tasty meals while dealing with the new baby.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 5:11 PM on February 23, 2005

Strongly second the food, but even heat 'n' eat was too much work for us during the first few weeks when the time not spent feeding/changing/admiring the baby and dealing with the visitors was spent sleeping.

Any chance you can contract with a local (to them) restaurant for one or more meal deliveries? If, by West Coast, you mean San Francisco, I might have some specific suggestions.
posted by aberrant at 5:19 PM on February 23, 2005

Great suggestions so far. Pmbuko, those baby slings look v. cool, and my friend and his wife would love that they come from Hawaii (he's in the Navy and they were stationed at Pearl for quite a few years.)

Aberrant, they're in San Diego, a place I've visited exactly once. But you've given me a great idea... I can ask over at Chowhound for suggestions of great San Diego restaurants that would deliver to their house.
posted by enrevanche at 5:24 PM on February 23, 2005

Yes, stuff is nice, but a commitment to drop by and do the dishes/the laundry/clean up/let the new parents get out of the house for an hour once a week for a month or two is the kind of gift that means far, far more, and they will remember it forever.
posted by jokeefe at 5:56 PM on February 23, 2005

Whoops, apologies, I didn't read your question carefully enough: I see you're not in the area. In which case, I would vote for food deliveries as well.
posted by jokeefe at 5:57 PM on February 23, 2005

enrevanche, We live in San Diego as well and have just had a baby two weeks ago. If you email me with their location, I am happy to try and help you find restaurants in their area.
congrats to your friends!! (my email is in my profile)
posted by karen at 7:09 PM on February 23, 2005

I agree with the practical gifts. Your wife is making the sentimental ones they can keep. I would have given anything for someone to help around the house, deliver meals, watch the baby for a couple hours once a week, all the things mentioned above. Anything to help with the intense sleep-deprivation and isolation that the parents will be dealing with will be much appreciated.
posted by Sorcia at 7:26 PM on February 23, 2005

See above! The last thing on the minds of new parents is eating well to keep up their energy levels. Barring that, spring for a couple months of maid service.
posted by mischief at 7:27 PM on February 23, 2005

We had our first baby in San Diego, and while I don't know where your friends live, I would not have survived without baked goods from Bread and Cie and everything else stocked by Trader Joe's, both in the Hillcrest Area. I'm going to be giving birth in a few months, and the lack of those two institutions (we're in Colorado now) fills me with dread.

And while it's prosaic as hell, a buttload of diapers is always appreciated. Food and diapers - that's pretty much all that occupied my mind those first few months.
posted by bibliowench at 7:55 PM on February 23, 2005

I favor good wooden toys. Not useful for a year or so, BUT they are the sort that last through more than one child, and hopefully, the next generation. And they make lovely nursery decoration 'til they are ready to be played with. Added bonus, they're not the sort to make noise and annoy parents. That's what I sent my best friend when he got his first kid.
posted by Goofyy at 9:06 PM on February 23, 2005

I'm San Diego; I'd be happy to help.

Congrats to them!

It kinda depends on your budget, of course. Gifts of time are greatly appreciated. Baby-watching is good (tricky, though--usually only family is trusted at first), Food delivery is also good. Some new families have a ton of support, making it necessary to coordinate food deliveries with others. Maid service is also on the right track. [I wonder if you can temporaraily hire a concierge/personal assistant? That'd be interesting.]

Folks with lots of family and friends can be overwhelmed by the curiosity about how things are going. If you can act as a point of contact that may help. If not, don't call too often. ;)

On the more material level: you can't have too many receiving blankets. Depending on the recipient and the giver, some like a baby announcement website. It's really easy to share pictures that way.

Ditto on the wooden toys, they're classy (just make sure they're safe, of course). There's any number of baby shower type-gifts that also may be good (they're common for a reason!), but you may not know what they have.

Oh, this just occurred to me: pay for a professional photo session with someone that does infants. Great memories for them and possible gifts for relatives.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:02 PM on February 23, 2005

If they've decided to use cloth diapers, a diaper service is a great gift. Some friends of ours elected to use a diaper service so we put a few months' worth of money towards it for them. Food is definitely one of the best things you can provide, otherwise.

Wooden toys also end up as heirlooms if they're good quality. And the photo session idea is awesome too.
posted by tracicle at 12:09 AM on February 24, 2005

Thanks, everybody. You've given me some great ideas.

I haven't marked any answer as "the best" because they all seem like "the best" to me. Y'all rock.
posted by enrevanche at 7:49 AM on February 24, 2005

There was no diaper service in San Diego as of 2.5 years ago. They're becoming less popular, unfortunately--we just washed 'em ourselves. Cloth diapers save a TON of money, though.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:32 AM on February 24, 2005

Someone gave us weekly maid service for a period of time after the boy was born. I will love that person until the day I die. :)
posted by dejah420 at 12:48 PM on February 24, 2005

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