It's a boy!
July 27, 2010 11:11 AM   Subscribe

My sister found out yesterday that she's having a boy. I'd like to send her some baby stuff and some boy-specific stuff, but I need the hive mind's help.

This is her first, so she doesn't have anything for the baby. I don't have children, so I'm at a complete loss as to what to get her. I already sent her some stuff she registered for (diaper bag, some sort of baby toy thing, a few other things) and some other stuff that I think she'll like (onesies, a little baby hat since he'd due in December, and a couple of other things). I also sent her a gift card.

All of this stuff is perfectly nice and all, but I'd like to get her more stuff. Moms and dads of MeFi, what did you need when you had your first baby? We live across the country from one another, so things like taking the baby for the night so she and her husband can go out aren't possible. I'm thinking more along the lines of, like, maybe a car seat and/or a crib and/or a stroller, plus some care-package stuff like a ton of diapers, but I don't know...I feel unsure.

One final note: I am not planning to get her a banjo, so non-banjo suggestions only, please!
posted by Maisie to Shopping (47 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Books! Lots of books! A baby can never have too many books to chew on, and the parents can never have too many books to read.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:14 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Swaddles, swaddles, swaddles.

They help everyone sleep better.
posted by Leezie at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

We got a *lot* of use out of the Pack-and-Plays, even when we weren't using it for travel. It was extremely convenient to have place to lay the baby down for naps when we were downstairs (all the bedrooms were upstairs). For travel, it's a godsend if a little bulky.

If a bottle is needed for feeding, you can't go wrong with Dr. Brown's bottles. Car seat/carrier/stroller combos are nice, too.
posted by jquinby at 11:17 AM on July 27, 2010

It's actually kind of amazing when you have a kid, because everyone gives you everything. Some gifts are better than others. For example, clothes can be impractical, and invariably don't fit. The best thing to do is to buy clothes that will fit at 3 months or 6 months, rather than something for a newborn.

Another great gift is a blanket or quilt.

Large toys that get in the way are not a good idea, as are any toys or clothes made out of PVC plastic.

A box of newborn diapers would also be helpful - they're expensive!

Some folks gave us baby albums with no pictures, and I found these to be irritating, but, hey, I'm a guy.

Hold off on cribs, car seats and strollers. These are all pretty personal items that need to be tested out before purchase.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Congratulations on your nephew!

One of my favorite baby gifts was a Mommy & Me swim class at our local YMCA. We took it when my daughter was 6 months old, and it was great fun. It allowed me to get out of the house and meet other parents of similar aged kids.

We also loved our 'itzbeen' timer, all the pretty baby toiletries, handmade baby blankets and board books. She might love a prenatal massage.

A camera would be a great gift, if they don't already have one that does a good job of taking photos with motion is lower light situations.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2010

Can't go wrong with a Neglect-o-Matic: A swing of a vibrating chair. Seriously. When our son was a baby putting him in the swing was just about the only way to catch a ten minute break.

We'd set the vibrating chair up on the dining room table so that we could eat together.

The swing we had could either swing back and forth or side to side. Some kids prefer one way to the other.

It was probably our most valuable asset for the first few months. Really a life saver.
posted by bondcliff at 11:27 AM on July 27, 2010

Everyone gives clothes, but since its your sister and you probably have a very good idea of what her tastes might be, go for it when you find something that just screams "her kinda thing".

You can never have too many baby hats shaped like this when babies need their heads covered practically all the time in cold weather, and they're masters of spilling stuff everywhere. Get white + several colors that could go with her other items.

There aren't really boy-specific items at the early baby stages (apart from "stuff that is blue"). Babies are babies.
posted by dabitch at 11:27 AM on July 27, 2010

I had one of these when I was a baby (seriously, I remember it) and naturally got one for my baby. a baby björn baby sitter is pricy but you'll get a lot of use out of the first six months as you need to have the baby in something while you cook/do something. This way baby hangs out with you.
posted by dabitch at 11:30 AM on July 27, 2010

My cousin had her baby shower this weekend; her first, also a boy, due in October.

She seemed to really appreciate:

- Diaper genie
- Clothes that weren't just newborn sizes and also were seasonally appropriate, like blanket sleepers in a 0-3 month size and sleeveless rompers in 6-9 month size.
- Books
- Baby monitor
- Her stroller (although as noted, a personal choice that needs test driving)
- A cosleeping basinette
- Stuff that tied the baby into their interests, e.g. my cousin is into rodeo, so the baby got a LOT of cowboy stuff and they loved it.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:31 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

My standard gift for first time moms (having had my own now), is a cute toy that they can use early on, some Swaddle mes (all the swaddling, none of the skill required!), and for breastfeeding moms Hydrogel pads.

That said, car seats are expensive and can require a bunch of research so it might be nice to get one as a gift to spare yourself that, but only you can say if your sister will only want the one she picked out. Same goes for cribs. Strollers are really individual (as are baby carriers) so you might want to let her pick what she wants there, though you can then get it for her if you want.

Newborn diapers are great to get, because inevitably you forget to get stuff like that (diapers, wipes, baby soap, etc) before the kid comes and then you don't have it. Newborn clothes are a waste unless she has a super tiny baby or it comes early. Really 3-6month clothes are the best to have.

The most moving gifts tend to be things like blankets, hats, quilts, etc, that you make yourself if you are up for that sort of thing.
posted by katers890 at 11:31 AM on July 27, 2010

Oh and a video baby monitor is vital (like this one: Summer Infant Monitor), saved us so much "Is he really awake? Does he need us to go in?" worry.
posted by katers890 at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2010

The Miracle Blanket is a terrific swaddling blanket. A copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block pairs nicely with this. A nursing cover is also a thoughtful gift; Bebe Au Lait makes some very comfy and cute ones.

Does she need a breast pump and related supplies such as breast pads, storage bags/bottles, etc?

Finally, seconding the Baby Bjorn bouncer as recommended above.
posted by tetralix at 11:37 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That baby swaddle thing is freaking me out. Babies like that? I guess I'll send her one and let her and the baby decide.

Thanks for all of the great ideas and for disabusing me of the not-great ones. Keep 'em coming!
posted by Maisie at 11:47 AM on July 27, 2010

Babies generally love being swaddled (remember they've been in a cramped little space for 9 months now), plus it prevents them from being woken up by the Moro reflex. However, sometimes you will get a baby that doesn't like it, but it isn't the norm.

Oh and Happiest baby on the block video is fantastic.

Oh, oh! (Sorry, I"m apparently just remembering everything great I had early on). An exercise ball! One of those you sit on. But not for exercising. You sit on it with the baby in your arms and bounce. Only thing that got us through the first 3 months! For some reason, when they are young they like the sensation of you doing squats with them, and will calm right down, but that can be very hard on your legs, so instead, you sit on the ball and bounce. Heaven.
posted by katers890 at 11:59 AM on July 27, 2010

You could always get her a gift card for the Gap or some other purveyor of basic machine-washable clothing -- there are sizes between "maternity pants" and "pre-pregnancy pants" and I remember being ecstatic to go out and get, wow, two pairs of pants that fit...

Woolen baby whatnots are nice -- I got a lot of use out of a wool infant balaclava.

I would be hesitant to purchase somebody else parenting accessories. Baby stuff, go nuts, buy the sweetest booties you can find -- but one family's must-have infant apparatus is another's junk, really. I wouldn't have used a swaddling whatnot. I do think a baby chair is a nice gift. I got one and thought "Uh, okay?" and it turned out to be indispensable next to the bathtub. The gifted one was nicer than anything I would've bought myself; go a little swishier than the parents would. However, somebody is reading this and thinking "Huh? Why not just grab a shower during naptime? I never would've needed that..."

Books are wonderful and an excess is impossible.
posted by kmennie at 12:00 PM on July 27, 2010

A boppy.
posted by COD at 12:07 PM on July 27, 2010

In the first three months, it is _all about_ the swaddling.

"The Happiest Baby On The Block" is not an entire book worth of information; get the DVD instead. It's a 20-minute DVD, and don't get me wrong; it's incredibly valuable information, it's just that there's not a book's worth of it. Toys with batteries are generally bad, but as mentioned above Fischer Price's "Bouncer" chairs can be pretty great. Some babies seem to get knocked right out by the mild vibration, which is great.

But you know what? I would, in the weeks shortly after the birth, use your credit card to order them some take-out food, and maybe spring for a cleaning service. The first few weeks of having a kid is a really miserable experience, by and large, and taking the household-chores burden off their shoulders would probably be far more appreciated than any toy or blanket.
posted by mhoye at 12:12 PM on July 27, 2010

I really liked that some people bought our son clothes that would fit him past the newborn size. Most people give newborn sizes and babies outgrow those so quickly. Having a few larger items was nice -- especially the 3-6 month sizes when he outgrew the NB size and I would have otherwise been caught unprepared.

Also, I swear that I got almost as many complements/comments on these baby socks as Baby Murrey himself. They are adorable.
posted by murrey at 12:16 PM on July 27, 2010

Onsies and sleepers - as mentioned, go for 3 months to start off. All babies do is sleep, eat and poop and pee through clothes, especially newborns since the diapers don't necessarily fit them perfect. You can easily go through 2-4 sleepers a night so having spares to not have to do laundry is a big help. Same thing is true for during the day.

I'd hold off on the big stuff. Your sis probably has an idea of what crib (or soon will) and stroller she wants so it's safer to let her pick unless you want to give her a $500 gift card so she can pick the one she wants out.

And as far as diapers go...pampers vs huggies - is a great debate that only the baby can decide. For my son it was huggies and for my daughter it' pampers, it just depends on the baby so either small bags of diapers or just make sure if you have multiple boxes make sure you include the gift receipt.

And even then, anything you can help them with (big or small) is a great help. Don't forget the gift receipt in case they already have the same thing or end up not using it.
posted by doorsfan at 12:24 PM on July 27, 2010

That baby swaddle thing is freaking me out. Babies like that? I guess I'll send her one and let her and the baby decide.

My baby didn't. In fact, he hated it with the passion of a thousand suns.

Cash was great in some form or another, but you know what I could have really used that I didn't get? Foodler giftcards. Yup. For those days where I just wasn't going to be able to feed myself no matter how hard I tried. I ordered out. A lot. Like, hundreds of dollars worth a lot.

I would have loved a maid service or money for a post partum doula, especially after the rush of the first month. But I didn't get those either.

Anything to make the daily tasks of life just magically taken care of for me would have been great.
posted by zizzle at 12:29 PM on July 27, 2010

A caveat about buying clothes (other than the aforementioned onesies). If you see an absolutely darling outfit, and you buy it, again make sure that you include the receipt. We got tons of beautiful clothes that were too big to use with a newborn, and not-seasonal by the time they were ready to fit. :(
posted by jquinby at 12:29 PM on July 27, 2010

Not purely baby-associated but I recently got my dad a gift certificate to Blurb. Blurb, as well as a few other sites, lets you put together a nice photo book fairly easily.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:30 PM on July 27, 2010

Phil & Teds makes AWESOME baby stuff. People look at our stroller and say "That's the coolest stroller ever!" and we just smile. Their travel bed is the best - think pack'n'play, but a really lightweight, compact design that is SO much easier to carry around than the bulky ugly things you usually see. The Lobster clamp-on high chair? Well, we loved it but ultimately went with a Svan, but the Lobster is still tempting for travel.

I wish more of their stuff was available in the US. All of the stuff we've gotten from them rocks. Check it out. Your sister won't be sorry.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:31 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

On the advice of a friend, I bought The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by Sears et al for another friend. That friend just told me that it was really, really useful (it's like a baby FAQ!). The first friend also mentioned to avoid the "What to Expect" books because they were rather glurgy and platitude-y, but YMMV (80% of my female friends hated the series; 20% adored it).

If you want to get her stuff like diapers, blankets, and things, you need to find out if she has firm opinions on topics like reusability/fabrics and so on. Some people REALLY DO NOT want to have to spend time and dry out their skin washing reusable diapers and want disposable diapers only. Some people REALLY DO NOT want to fill up landfills with plastic diapers and want fabric diapers only. Some people only want natural cotton blankets, etc. It's best to know preferences before you buy.

Threadless has super-cute onesies and hoodsies in great unisex designs, by the way, and they periodically have sales on the kids' stuff too. Several people have said they appreciated either getting clothes that weren't for newborns or receiving clothing gifts a few months later.
posted by wintersweet at 12:31 PM on July 27, 2010

The Sears Baby Book is actually pretty good - it explains stuff like attachment parenting, as well as developmental stages in a contemporary, educated way.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on July 27, 2010

It's a bit early for this, but do NOT get her a baby walker, and educate her on the risks. They do not help baby walk faster—if anything, they may delay walking and cause an abnormal gait. They are also dangerous, having sent >14,000 babies to emergency rooms in 1997 alone. They are even banned in Canada, with owners being fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to six months of jail time. No baby walkers.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 12:48 PM on July 27, 2010

Try to avoid blue (and pink for girls) stuff. Its depressing to me that things seem to have polarised into these 2 colours. My lad looks great in black I've found (baby metallica t-shirts rock!)
posted by daveyt at 12:58 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I buy every baby I know the Winnie the Pooh books.
posted by booth at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aiden + Anais muslin blankets. Two and a half years later, we're still using them every day.
posted by pyjammy at 1:08 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're looking to spend money and don't really need to bury her in stuff (much of which she will either have opinions about, or receive as gifts from less-close family and friends), why not buy her a newborn photo session with a local baby photographer (ideally one who will come to her home with props and hats, to get the most out of the session). I didn't even know this existed until well after my son was born, and had I known I think I would have been too overwhelmed to think about scheduling or paying for it, but looking back now, I would have given anything to have had those shots.
posted by Mchelly at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2010

Ooops, I mean Aden + Anais. They work fine for swaddling, but we used them for other purposes. They're breathable so great for throwing over the infant seat or stroller while going for a walk (to shield from sun or busybodies), and now, at two and a half, my boys sleep under them every night.
posted by pyjammy at 1:12 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to say diapers and onesies, but somebody mentioned food. I am changing to food. Maybe a gift card for a take out place?
posted by Frasermoo at 1:19 PM on July 27, 2010

I love my Skip Hop Pronto Diaper Changer and am still using it with my almost two-year-old. The changing pad is getting small for her, but it's great for smaller babies when you're out and about. I would throw it in a diaper bag to keep things organized and now that I'm not going through multiple outfits a day, I just strap it to the stroller (or throw it in my car) and go.

Be careful not to overstuff it - I blew one of the inside zippers months ago and discovered a hole in it yesterday due to me constantly stuffing in one more diaper.

Different brands make these sort of things and there seems to be lots of style options (I went with something my husband wouldn't mind carrying.)
posted by melissa at 1:23 PM on July 27, 2010

I came in here to say that babies don't need much. Really. And what they do need is so easily gotten used and in good condition. Thus, being across the country sort of makes this hard.

- Etsy is great for handmade specific stuff. Do they love sushi? Search baby sushi for cute bibs or onesies or whatever. This is something special too.
- Good new digital camera and lots of SD cards.
- A Flickr pro subscription.
- A smartphone for emailing/websurfing while breastfeeding.
- SwaddleMe blankets for sure.
- Happiest Baby on the Block book/DVD.
- Books are good, especially ones you guys liked as kids.
- I love the Ikea Antilope $20 highchair. It is so easy to use and clean. (Some may look down upon such a cheap highchair.)
- Make a gift note for a baby carrier, but wait until the baby comes to get one. He might not like it.
- Crib. Again - cheap or free. People offered us multiple cribs. Plus they might cosleep anyway.
- As far as a stroller, it totally depends on where they live and how they use it. For urban babies, a good lightweight umbrella stroller is a good idea. We have the Maclaren Volo and LOVE IT SO MUCH. Be careful though, because Mom and Dad should start asking people on the street about their strollers and try them out. Many strollers are too short for dads. We have a BOB Revolution jogging stroller but we could live without it.
- Carseat? IMHO, I'd start out with a convertible seat (Britax is a brand that I like), and if baby isn't the type that can transfer from the car to the house, THEN buy an infant carseat. My kid only used his for 6 months though. We spend hundreds on it. :(
- Swing or bouncy seat? Don't buy one new. Get both or one or the other cheap on Craigslist and see if baby likes it. It seems that most babies prefer one or the other. And then after a few months you're DONE with it.
- Onesies? They wear them so briefly. (And, although I love Threadless, their onesies, of which I got many, are among the worst we've had.)
- Do buy a 6 pack of socks of the same color so that it isn't hard when they get lost or to match. I like Old Navy socks. (Although did do the expensive Trumpette when kiddo was an infant. They were nice.)
- Don't buy shoes. Kids feet vary so much. You might get sandals and it turns out to be winter when he needs them. Or you get shoes that require walking and he isn't walking yet. Or he has wide feet. (OMG, I bought so many shoes that he NEVER WORE.)
- Diapers? Don't overstock up. What if that brand doesn't work for them? Diapers and wipes are ALWAYS on sale, so let them figure it out. (Maybe giftcards tho?)

And, after baby arrives, if breastfeeding isn't happening, you can buy bottles (Dr. Browns FTW). If the baby needs a pacifier, you can buy one. Everything can be bought on Amazon (or a store) and get there in a day.

It is great that you're excited, but I can promise you, it is easy to go overboard and all that money goes down the drain. You'll have tons of opportunities to spend money on this kid in the future.
posted by k8t at 1:45 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am currently 40 weeks pregnant with my first boy so I feel very qualified to answer your question!

People have been so generous with me, and have given me so much, and the things that have meant to most to me and made me feel the best were the following:

1.Old school traditional gifts like a silver piggy bank, and a very nice decorative utensil set that said "baby boy" on it. Not very practical, but sentimental and I'll treasure them forever.

2. Someone gave us their old ipod nano filled with Rockabye Baby lullaby versions of our favorite bands. So little dude has his own ipod filled with lullaby Metallica, Led zeppelin, nirvana, etc. It was free for them to make, and has just been amazing!

3. My best girlfriend sent me a care package of gourmet ice creams. It was the one and only time someone sent a package for ME instead of the baby. I was surprised at how awesome it was, and how much it meant to me. It was a totally selfish gift and I enjoyed every bite!

Hope it helps, and congratulations!
posted by katypickle at 1:48 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ergo baby carrier. This was probably the most useful thing from our baby shower. Not so good for the newborn/tiny, but great after that.
Indesctructible books are made from tyvek (I think) and can be chewed and are tear-proof, and have nice illustrations.
posted by carter at 1:49 PM on July 27, 2010

Oh, and cd mixes of your favourite soothing/singalong/baby music.
posted by carter at 1:50 PM on July 27, 2010

Yes on the books! I especially liked getting books that people said had been their, or their kids', favorites when they were children.

A carseat cover worked great for me in winter. I hate seeing babies overheated in stores because it's too much of a hassle to keep taking them in and out of a snowsuit; with this you just unzip to ventilate. Also it's supposed to be safer not to have so much padding between the baby and the seat straps. Note these only go on infant seats. We got through a winter easily with just a hooded wool sweater and one of these seat covers. I tended not to take the baby out in howling snowstorms, of course.

Book recommendation: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

These soft shoes are nice for when tender little baby feet need an extra layer of warmth, like when going out or if it's chilly in the house. Most of the time the feet stay warm by themselves, though.
posted by lakeroon at 1:56 PM on July 27, 2010

That baby swaddle thing is freaking me out. Babies like that? I guess I'll send her one and let her and the baby decide.

Up until recently, my baby did not sleep well without being swaddled. It is supposed to recreate the womb environment for them - they were all scrunched up in there and it was comforting.

Keep in mind also, that they will swaddle the baby at the hospital (think baby burrito), except with a blanket because those nurses are champion swaddlers! The Swaddle Mes and Woombies are for the rest of us who in the middle of the night and sleep deprived can't figure out which end is up. The velcro is awesome. Zippers are even better if you have a houdini like I did who would kick out the bottom out of his swaddle.

Swaddles saved us. Seriously.
posted by Leezie at 2:49 PM on July 27, 2010

Book recommendation: Healthy Sleep Habits

Oh my lolz, no. Not those kinds of books.

In re. the Ergo: MetaFilter loves it!
posted by kmennie at 3:06 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same spot as you are! My younger brother and his wife just had a baby boy. One of the things not on the registry that I sent (and plan to send more of, over time) was copies of books our parents read to us as kids (albums, too) because I somehow ended up with most of our childhood books. And I also sent a Dr. Seuss collection, because every baby needs One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:13 PM on July 27, 2010

don't worry about music. Pandora has great kids music.
posted by k8t at 3:25 PM on July 27, 2010

The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD is way better than the book- boils it down in 20 minutes for sleep-deprived new parents, so seconding, thirding that suggestion.

There are a lot of things that I could suggest that really depend on what the baby likes and baby may or may not like it (i.e., swings, swaddles, baby carriers) so let me throw out of couple of things that I as a new mother found really useful:

- help her identify a new mothers' group in her area. Often connected to local hospitals or baby-oriented businesses, the mothers' groups I belonged to as a new mom saved my sanity. Google will set you well on your way to finding something close to her. Some groups are free, others have fees, for me it was worth every penny, so if you want to get a gift for your sister I cannot think of a better one. Connecting with other moms who are going through the exact same thing, or who have just gone through it and can help her hang in there, is a fabulous thing.

- baby sign language classes. We learned a lot more signs than baby ambrosia ever reliably used, but the ones he did use went a long way in minimizing his frustration- does he want more, or is he all done? Does he want water, or does he want milk? That was enormously helpful.
posted by ambrosia at 3:29 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just packed away all of the cute blankets and swaddlers and everything, EXCEPT our aden & anias blankets. They are wonderful in every way.

My other go to gifts after having a one year old are: sophie the giraffe teether; the books "Nurtureshock" and "Einstein didn't use flashcards" if I know the parents are of a like mind; burts bees baby wash; and pjs from the gap.

Other things we used a LOT that I wouldn't have minded not picking out (not true for our car seat, stroller, crib, pack n play): bottles, monitor, baby bathtub, bath toys that squirt; various books. Man, it's hard to think of much else. Babies don't need all this crap; ours likes to play with my husband's old wallet and a pill bottle filled with pennies.
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:57 PM on July 27, 2010

I am posting this from the hospital as my wife has just been induced for the birth of our son.

The stuff we have received so far has ranged from the hilariously practical (Pee Pee Tee Pee) to the unwanted (Thanks, MiL, sure hope he likes Elmo in two years).

Does your sister have a favorite band? Check out if someone has made a lullaby version of some of their songs (We got Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins so far).

Diapers are very welcome. Baby is 3 weeks early and if we did not get gifted diapers, we would have none
at home.

Gift certificates to local restaurants are also super welcome.

Do not buy any core baby product (crib, stroller, etc) off register. Each parent has their own preferences and paranoias.

If you find a cute outfit you know she will love, try to get multiple sizes worth so she can continue to love it as he grows.

All baby boys need a stuffed dragon. I mean, seriously.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:58 PM on July 27, 2010

On second though, screw all that, do this.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:01 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

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