Excellent baby gifts for new parents
November 1, 2013 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Friends of mine will be new parents! I want to get them a sweet-ass gift. They have a wish list but say they welcome any other gifts not on it if especially good. Veteran parents, what did you wish you had when your baby came along?

Normally I would go for something hilariously inappropriate that would garner a big laugh. But I was thinking when the sleepless nights of screaming descend it would be nice to have a gift that makes their lives easier (and is not liquor, unless that's the best choice).

They will both be working parents in relatively demanding jobs, so things like take time and experimentation like reusable diapers probably wouldn't be first choice. Preferably cost would be under $50, with up to $100 if especially awesome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total)
I spent almost $200 on 3 hours of cleaning services (a gift certificate) for my cousin and his wife when they had their second child. I know that's twice your budget, but they've told me multiple times that it was the best gift ever, so I wanted to share.

If you're nearby, home cooked food delivered after the wee one is born is usually welcome. Anything that will take time from chores like cooking and cleaning to give them more time with baby.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:03 AM on November 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

I think a giant Costco-size bottle of hand sanitizer might fit the spirit of what you're asking for.
posted by bq at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2013

Seconding hungrybruno. I would have given anything for a clean house and a hot meal in the weeks after my baby was born.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 11:07 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Thirding hungrybruno. Newborns don't really need a lot of "stuff". But they do take a lot of time. Dinners or cleaning would have been wonderful for us.

One of our friends signed up for this site when she had her baby: http://www.mealtrain.com/, but it's more up to the new parents to sign up, I think.
posted by Llamadog-dad at 11:11 AM on November 1, 2013

Diapers. Diapers, diapers, diapers. They have no idea how many diapers they're going to go through. If they are doing disposable, then get them in a variety of sizes because babies grow fast.
posted by headspace at 11:12 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing the cooking and cleaning. A gift card for a grocery store that delivers might be the thing, or a gift card for any deliverers of wholesome, hot meals.
posted by northernish at 11:14 AM on November 1, 2013

By the time I had Kinetic #3, I can guarantee you that I would have loved to get:

- a SWEET brand new pair of pricey yoga/sweatpants. Still had a belly but I was so sick of maternity clothes and I didn't want to waste money on new-mommy clothes. But oh...if someone had gifted me new sweats I would have loved that!

- seconding the cleaning service. Or a few meals. My BFF would just drop off ready to go salads with lots of proteins, French bread and a bottle of wine. That was wonderful. Or a big already-cooked lasagna with garlicky broccoli rabe and again, the bottle of wine and dessert. Something very "Yes, you are allowed to eat lovely meals," with the ready-to-go-dinner and wine being delivered. Such luxury.

- if you can afford it and they're not opposed to the idea, I would have killed for a Keurig coffee machine with a LOT of pods.

-out of all the baby gifts we got, the two that proved to be very useful were the mechanical swing and the $$$ MacLaren stroller. I never would have bought either but they both were heaven-sent.
posted by kinetic at 11:15 AM on November 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Itzbeen Timer might be a good gift if they are on the 'geeky side', especially if combined with a nice notebook for making notes between parents/caregivers. It was hard for me to keep track of the times baby needed something when my daughter was newborn, and I was home full time with her for a year. I gave one to a friend when she had her son, and she loved it!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 11:18 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have given a baby sling and have always gotten comments on how much it's been appreciated

and nthing headspace above - diapers. You can make this fun by making a diaper cake (loads of online tutorials for how to do this), and including other cute little things as part of the cake. Some of my favorite items to include: Butt Paste! also the little stroller toys because apparently they're easily lost so more is useful
posted by darsh at 11:19 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I asked this question a few years ago (OMG, that kid is going to start school next year!), and the gifts of choice seemed to be food and cleaning services. Preferably food brought in, not prepared for them at home. These same friends actually just had a second child, and I brought them a tray of baked ziti that they can pop in the oven when they're ready, with a bagged salad, and a gift card for a favorite nearby restaurant that offers call-ahead curbside take-out. (And whiskey, but that was more for dad...)
posted by LolaGeek at 11:20 AM on November 1, 2013

Best answer: Get them something on their wish list.

Or, seconding food.

Is there a really good pizza place that delivers to their address? Get them two or three $20 gift certificates so they can order out.
posted by Fairchild at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

A beautiful, expensive but washable baby blanket. It'll be the thing they use all the time in the first few months and likely treasure it always.
posted by Dragonness at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would vote for a gift card for a clothing store you know the mother will appreciate. Even if you return to the same weight, it's common to have that weight re-distribute, and nothing fits like it used to. Postpartum one is usually not feeling great-looking anyway and having next to nothing to wear doesn't help there.

Also seconding pizza.

(I think the 'Itzbeen' is totally nutty and do not understand why anybody would keep track of that stuff in the first place, outside of complicated situations with multiples; obviously other parents may vary...)
posted by kmennie at 11:25 AM on November 1, 2013

One of our friends signed up for this site when she had her baby: http://www.mealtrain.com/, but it's more up to the new parents to sign up, I think.

I think sites like MealTrain are best utilized when one person coordinates guidelines with the new parents (how many times a week, dietary restrictions, when to drop off), and then organizes all the other friends in MealTrain to bring the meals. Consider taking the lead to set it up if you're part of a larger social circle!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:48 AM on November 1, 2013

I brought a nice lounger for the new mother to hang out in. Nice enough to wear around visitors but totally unrestricting. Zip up the front if breastfeeding. I also brought over some nice heat n eat dishes. Lasagna, quiche, etc.

Beer is good if Mom is breastfeeding.

Offer to come over and watch the baby while folks sleep, I did that. I cuddled the baby for about 6 hours, fed him, changed him and talked to him. We both had a nice time and Mom got a chance to really sleep.

If you can give sleep, the parents will say your name lovingly and remember you in their prayers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2013

Does their wish list include a Boppy? Get them a Boppy. Great for breastfeeding and for bottle feeding; perfect for helping little people to hang out on the floor; all around useful.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Veteran parents, what did you wish you had when your baby came along?

A brown paper sack filled with $100 bills...
posted by jim in austin at 12:00 PM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've given my friends a pile of baby books and weekly muffin (or other portable breakfast food) deliveries.
posted by jeather at 12:03 PM on November 1, 2013

A brown paper sack filled with $100 bills...

Y'know actually, starting a college fund/savings account would be a VERY nice thing to do. It took me years to set those up for my kids and if someone had just opened those accounts when the kids were born, it would have been one less thing on my list.
posted by kinetic at 12:14 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I gave a friend two dozen bagels with some cream cheese tubs. I really didn't have the ability to sit down for full meals for a while, so something I could eat without much cooking & clean up afterward was vital. Cut-up fruit or other foods that could be eaten without reheating were also really helpful.

We ended up buying the largest cotton swaddling blankets we could find on Amazon because none of the blankets we had on hand were big enough to swaddle the little dude, and swaddling really helped him calm down and sleep.

Wipe warmer. Seems really dumb, but baby had huge meltdowns at nightime diaper changes because of cold wipes until we got this.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:28 PM on November 1, 2013

Oh, if they don't have Amazon Prime, that was another hugely helpful thing that let me get extra bottles, pacifiers, cat food, etcetera when I wasn't able to leave the house for a while.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:29 PM on November 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Cleaning service would be great if you can swing it.

Amazon Prime if they don't have it (I swear I ordered stuff twice a week in the early days, and the streaming service and Kindle library will come in handy during late night feeding/snuggling sessions).

Aden and Anais make wonderfully light stretchy blankets that are perfect for swaddling and are also just expensive enough ($50 for 4) to seem ridiculous to buy for yourself. My almost-3 year old still sleeps with at least one of his every night and is attached to the point where I had to buy a new set for the coming #2.

Books! Books get expensive if you have a lot of them, and I had a lot of fun seeing what my friends thought were the indispensable works of children's literature.

If they live in a cold climate I found a stroller bunting like the JJ Cole BundleMe to be really useful--it's basically a sleeping bag for the stroller so you don't have to wrestle the baby in and out of a coat/snowsuit every time you go out to run a quick errand.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:39 PM on November 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Of all the various help with baby crap we got or tried; this thing actually has served above and beyond its price.
Monkey baby bouncer
I think it is available in other motifs that are the same thing.
Inexpensive, and the ok build quality means it can be goodwilled/donated in a couple of years.
posted by buzzman at 2:53 PM on November 1, 2013

Nthing disposable nappies (if they are taking that route), and other things like food, cleaning etc.

You need so many nappies it's not funny, and it's just fabulous knowing you have a huge stockpile in the cupboard and you don't need to rush out and buy them. Coupled with some good powder and/or nappy cream, it's seriously a handy gift.

Same goes for a cleaner, or take-out vouchers (that do delivery). Anything that reduces the burden. Also we needed a lot of singlets, that was a good gift too (for the baby, not adult singlets)

Things that we found really not useful:

Stuff - when you have a baby your house gets filled with shit anyway, unless they're specifically asking for stuff, don't get them things that will increase the clutter, especially cheap stuff.

Toys - newborns can do jack all with most toys except occasionally rattles. They will be submerged in a deluge of toys. Our two year old daughter currently has more toys than I think I did in my entire childhood - and we have only bought about five of them. They will get a lot of toys, and toys that make noises particularly may not be welcome. Also, some parents can get really thingy about plastic toys, toys made in china, etc etc.

Clothes - we got a lot of clothes, people can't resist cause baby clothes are so cute but honestly, we only dressed up the kid when we went out. Ease of use was the name of the game and that meant singlets and onesies. So a lot of stuff never got worn before the baby got too big. Also, we got a lot of excellent hand me downs.

Carriers are a really personal thing, everyone has a different style they and their baby likes so it's a bit of a gamble getting one. Same goes for dummies and milk bottles etc. A steriliser was very handy for us, though.

Good luck!
posted by smoke at 3:24 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

The thing I've done a few times was a basket designed to be a nursing/"baby sleeping on me" station. A smallish basket that can be maneuvered with one hand, containing some mix of the following:

-A few snacks (can be eaten one handed)
-Notepad and pen (in the first weeks, you're more likely to need to keep track of feedings or poops or other silly things)
-Hot/cold container that can be opened one-handed or a big water bottle
-Hand sanitizer or wipes
-Lanolin, gel soothies, or similar things if the mom will be nursing
-Some hippie "new mom" tea
-iTunes gift card, trashy novel, diverting magazine, or similar.

I've had really good feedback on it. If I didn't have kids I'd probably not put the breast feeding stuff and add in an eye mask or something. Just small portable luxuries.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:47 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing what hungrybruno said. I had a baby three months ago, and I can tell you that the best things we got were homecooked meals once a week from some lovely friends, and the cleaning service we finally gifted ourselves out of desperation. All those cute little newborn onesies and booties and blankies can go to hell.

Though, I did buy a 4-pack of Aden&Anais muslin swaddling blankets and I use them all day every day for every imaginable purpose.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:13 PM on November 2, 2013

Response by poster: I don't live near the area and their grocery store is minutes away, so I bought them a gift certificate to Foodler. I also bought some dorky science books for kids. Thank you for all of the suggestions!
posted by Anonymous at 3:35 PM on November 13, 2013

One thing not mentioned that I got and treasured was a 5 pack of XL granny pants. I don't know if they were meant to be a joke, but seriously, they were amazing and really saved me for a while.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 12:57 AM on November 24, 2013

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