Baby gift filter
October 3, 2017 10:06 PM   Subscribe

I would like to buy a gift for a baby girl who is almost six months old and her first-time parents. I have never taken care of a baby - for those of you who have, what gifts, gadgets, or doodads have proved especially useful or made your life easier over time? I am assuming they have all the essentials down pat.
posted by mossicle to Shopping (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A housecleaning gift certificate.
posted by k8t at 10:17 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]

I think you have to decide first whether you want to get a gift for the baby herself or for the parents. Gifts for our kids that we liked mostly were little sweatshirts with my college alma mater or the mini (and expensive) Timberlands or Nike Michael Jordans our children were gifted. For us, we loved babysitting services. Friends who offered to watch a kid or all the kids for an afternoon or evening. The toys my one year olds loved were mostly stuffed animals and blocks. This time of year, a really cute Halloween costume might be appropriate if the parents have not gotten one already.
posted by AugustWest at 10:25 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]

You might want to be clearer about what degree they have the stuff side sorted. We are in baby 2 but there are still plenty of little things I haven't been able to buy and we're not particularly poor. Babies are expensive and they like novelty. If you decide to get something for baby and not patents, I would say (as the parent of a 7mo)- at this age they are teething and sitting and maybe some babies are starting to crawl. They are no longer being swaddled and they are too young for games. I know it's meant well but it was annoying when friends bought me games or things that were about 18m too early for my kid because then I have to store them and there is already so much stuff. I also don't like clothes, tbh. They last a short time and if I need them I buy them or find a way to get them secondhand. Plus other ppl's tastes are not mine.

Buy something that can be sucked and washed and buy a brand that has a good rep- over here in Australia I think skip hop and bright starts make very developmentally appropriate toys. Read the label re: age of development and take it seriously.

Buying for parents is also nice. Nice food or tea or lunch brought over is very welcome.
posted by jojobobo at 11:03 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]

Diapers in a larger size than needed. Newborns are awash with the early sizes from baby showers and well-meaning relatives, but the mediums and larges are fewer and farther between.
Also -- my kids used the plastic stacks of diapers as makeshift walkers. I don't know if the newer, more compact cubes would work in the early steps stages.

It's not too early for baby spoons. I like the ones with a loop handle if I can find them.
Ditto sippy cups.

How about chewable books? And I'm all for starting an "almost indestructible" beginner book collection.
posted by TrishaU at 12:57 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]

If you want a gift for the baby then I'd recommend something wooden that will be useful and interesting over time. We have this stacking ring set and my kids started playing with it around six months and still like it at about 6 and 3 years old.
posted by sulaine at 1:07 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]

One parent's can't-live-without-it is another parent's junk. Some people really like sitters and cleaners; some people are homebodies and big on privacy.

There isn't a good answer here with so little info on the family. At six months, safe to say they have things sorted stuff-wise, and have certain preferences in what kind of baby whatnot they use.

If you are dead set on a physical thing, there are loads of good toy and book recs in the many previous iterations of this question. If you want a present for a random six-month-old, a cheque for whatever savings for her future her parents have or would enjoy establishing. If you want a present for random new parents, quality consumables are a pretty safe bet. If you are close with the mother and know what stores she likes, many women are still dealing with changing sizes in everything from clothing to shoes to bras pretty often at 6mo postpartum; I personally would have enjoyed a gift card to a quality, but not too expensive, store with an online presence that sold the sort of clothing that suited my life at the time.

But these things are really, really personal, and there's just no way to say "X is a great gift for parents with a 6mo" unless a lot of details about the family are known. I want to say "I had a bit of a hassle as I didn't grok the need for a "diaper bag" specifically made for that, but I did need a nice tote bag that was larger than my existing purse. LL Bean makes good sturdy bags..." But, maybe her sister-in-law already got her the perfect newborn-through-toddler sized tote.

Books are often suggested -- but by six mo I had every kiddie classic, a library well stocked for years' worth of reading.

Unless the parents are silly-rich I think a cheque for the college fund (or ? my kid has post-secondary investments, but I also opened a savings account for her when people gave me $ when she was little; most gifted $ still goes in there and it means a decent used car when she hits 16). "For Baby's future, however her parents see fit to use this!" And then make a joke about how "future" means anything from educational savings to a night out for the parents next week; you just wanted to surprise them with a bit extra they can use as needed. I know cash is sort of frowned upon as too impersonal, but it kinda is the ne plus ultra of gifts, gadgets, and doodads that make life with a newish baby easier. You can always give it with a favourite book from you own childhood (totally okay if it's more for preschoolers; they grow fast) and a nice bottle of booze for the adults.

I felt very bad about all the presents we just had no use for, but really appreciated people who remembered that babies can cost a lot even if it's just in stuff like constantly shifting bra sizes, and simply gave me $ and maybe a book that had meant something to them as children, ideally with a little inscription.
posted by kmennie at 2:45 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]

Ask the parents what their favorite outfit/piece of clothing for her for regular wear is. Buy another similar one in a different color. In her current size and then in the next size up.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:00 AM on October 4

Dribble bibs are something that are always useful (and you never seem to have enough) and chances are baby's started to grow out of their newborn ones. There are lots of funky designs available.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:50 AM on October 4

Bath books are fun. Especially the ones that squirt water.
posted by kjs4 at 5:10 AM on October 4

Baby is going to be getting into eating soon! Bowls, cute divided plate, baby silverware are all good. Soppy cups and those treat cups with the funky lid so that baby can reach in for Cheerios but mostly they don’t fall out.
posted by amanda at 5:28 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]

“Sippy cups” is what I meant. Thanks, auto-correct.
posted by amanda at 5:34 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]

A case of baby wipes from Costco. I have tried several kinds, and theirs are the best. This is something the parents will be using for a while yet.
posted by Anne Neville at 5:39 AM on October 4

Gifts that we particularly appreciated were:

- Gro-bags (i.e. sleeping bags for babies)
- Personalised bath towel (with a hood)
- Dribble bibs

If buying a toy, I agree with the advice above to go for something classic like stacking cups, stacking rings, or shape sorters. They tend to hold interest for much longer than many more expensive toys which might look fancy, but only actually do one thing and don't encourage problem-solving/creativity.
posted by jonnyploy at 6:55 AM on October 4

Bath toys. I feel like my kids went from blobs in the tub to ready to play so quickly that it was something we didn't have and ran out to buy. And unless they have improved in the last decade, some were hard to keep really clean (mildew) and would be tossed and replaced so it would be nice to have backups.
posted by maxg94 at 7:03 AM on October 4

Clothing is going to be difficult if you don’t know the child - we were just given a lovely winter hat in size 6-12 months. Unfortunately Baby Tinkletown has a massive head and is in size 12-18months at 6 months old. No way our friend could have predicted that.

So I’d go with toys or books. Ours likes lights, scrunchy noises, rattles and bells. He also likes tactile objects - one of his favourite toys is a spiky massage ball, and he loves touching cold cans of drink. We do a baby music and sensory class, and he spends half of the class staring in amazement at the light projector and the other half chewing on the LED nightlights. Crisp packets and paper bags are another source of interest, which is unfortunate because we can’t let him have them.
posted by tinkletown at 7:10 AM on October 4

Bath toys are perfect starting around now. Get the toy boats that don't have holes that can lead to mold and this ledge to keep them and the water in the bath. -(Mother of 2 yo twins)
posted by rmless at 10:11 AM on October 4

My son liked several things from Green Toys. This set includes the stacking cups he got a lot of mileage out of. They can also be used in the bath.

I would not buy wipes or diapers unless you know the right brand/size. My son has very sensitive skin and we found only one brand that didn't irritate him (7th generation, fwiw).

An outfit or books are good presents too. I'd go for a 9-mos outfit and make sure it's weather appropriate for the fall/winter. A gift receipt for exchange would be nice to include if possible.

We ended up getting some duplicate books and toys but I just regifted them or donated to Toys for Tots. I don't think that's a bad outcome.
posted by JenMarie at 10:41 AM on October 4

The key concepts for baby toys are:
* Unbreakable (cloth, plastic, or wood, usually)
* Not sharp or spikey (at the level that can cut skin if gripped or banged against)
* Childsafe materials (check the labels; this isn't something you can detect - mostly, no poisonous dyes/paints)
* Bigger than your fist (because babies can choke on surprisingly large objects)
* Nothing that can form a seal over the mouth (like a fist-size pokeball that opens - same issue)
* No string/cord longer than about 2" (babies can wrap them around fingers or wrists and cut off circulation)
* Not noisy, unless you are a sadist who hates the parents (all toys can be banged against each other for sound, but only a cruel person gives a six-month-old a set of drums)
Note that "designed as toy" is irrelevant to the baby's happiness.

Cloth books are nice, especially ones with different textures. There are DIY versions all over the web.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:20 PM on October 4

My six month old currently enjoys a xylophone, crinkly books, an o-ball, and water play (lots of things in a tub of water.) bubbles also seem to be a hit right now.
posted by melodykramer at 7:10 PM on October 4

I bought my daughter the Green Toys My First Tugboat when she was about six months old and loved it so much it's now my go to baby gift. It doesn't get mouldy and you can use it as a pourer to wash hair. All the Green Toys look simple but are so well made and clever - at five, my daughter still loves playing with hers.

I'm that person who ALWAYS gives books to children - it's worth googling children's book award winners for previous years or spending some time in a specialist children's bookstore. For a six month old I'd get something by Alison Jay or Janet and Allan Ahlberg - both have simple enough stories for babies but stories hidden in the pictures that will keep them interesting for a much older child.
posted by Wantok at 8:35 PM on October 4

My go-to for the baby who has everything is personalized label stickers - Mabel's Labels or similar. I use my kids' labels for everything and plan to continue to do so through elementary school. They go through the dishwasher! They go through the washing machine! They are rad. Right now Mabel's has Hello Kitty!
posted by potrzebie at 10:16 PM on October 4

I always get a a few sets of fitted crib sheets and waterproof pads. You can layer them like a cake. When the kid wets through in the middle of the night, you only have to whip off the sheet and pad and, voila, fresh dry sheet with waterproof pad under it. It's not very cool but it's dead useful.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:16 PM on October 4

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