Buying for Baby in the key of Corona
May 6, 2020 7:31 AM   Subscribe

My brother is expecting his first child in July. I am clueless about what newborn and infant kids and their parents need, but I am very skilled in online shopping. Due to extended shipping times however, I need to order things, well, now! What should I get them?

It's my brother's first kid. It's his partner's second but her first born is almost old enough to drive so the situation is slightly different this time! I wont be having any children, and this is is my first biological nibling, so I am going to spoil this kid.

First though, kid's parents. What can I get them they might not know they need? Money's an object of course, but I'm fortunate enough to still be very much employed in these unprecedented times and am happy to pay for quality if it makes a meaningful difference. So far I've established the baby already has plenty of places to sleep and sit, but other than that...

I online shop when bored and stressed, so unless I have some direction this could go very badly for both my credit card and my brothers level of clutter in his house if I inundate him with... stuff. They do not have a registry yet and have been asked directly what they need, but have other priorities at the moment.

So hive mind, what do I buy parents expecting their first child together in 2020? I'm into all things tech and computery and so is my brother, so awesome baby monitors? Is there anything else big in baby-tech? Or something more practical like the best darn diaper bag? (Although I guess they're probably not going too far for a while...) What might they not realize they really need but will end up being extremely useful? I am extremely clueless about newborns/infants/kids - please help!!

Challenges: Online only, Canada, and delayed shipping times from Amazon (and everywhere else as well I assume).

Thanks all!
posted by cgg to Shopping (21 answers total)
The big thing in baby-tech right now seems to be the Snoo bassinet. It is Not Cheap, but people swear by it. You can rent it instead of buying, which might make it more reasonable.
posted by coppermoss at 7:38 AM on May 6

Everyone wants to get parents cutesy things. You know what parents need? (Keanu voice) Diapers. Lots of diapers. If you can swing it, send them a box of appropriately sized diapers at intervals.

They. will. love. you.

Other big hits we've gotten people or used ourselves have been pacifiers that hold and deliver liquid medicine (waaaay easier than trying to syringe and get a baby to swallow).

Frame strollers are great, but you need compatibility with the car seat. This lets the parents just unclip the car seat from the base in the car and clip it right on to the stroller. No unbuckling!

Another suggestion I have is enough diaper/wipe caddies to have one on every floor of the house. Just buying more so we never had to run far when there was a blowout was great.
posted by bfranklin at 7:48 AM on May 6

If the parents intend to formula feed frequently, they may love a Baby Brezza, which is like a Keurig for baby bottles. My formula-feeding cousin swears by theirs.
posted by kellygrape at 8:04 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]

Lucie's List was helpful when I was pregnant for the first time and trying to figure out what I needed. Maybe browsing there will give you some ideas, although I find some of their recommendations kind of absurd - nobody needs to spend $300 on a designer diaper bag, ugh.

An awesome baby monitor is a great idea! I adore our baby monitor, it's an Infant Optics DXR-8 and you can probably find a used one for half the price of new. You might think something that runs on a smart phone or tablet would be desirable, but actually I much prefer it to be a separate thing - when I want to check on my baby I want it to be ready NOW, not to fiddle around with an app and wait for it to connect and what if the wi-fi goes down and my baby is crying and I don't know? This is more like a video walkie-talkie than an internet device and it always works. It gives me the freedom to go hang out in the yard while my baby is napping and not have to run inside to check on her every 5 minutes. It's so great.
posted by beandip at 8:06 AM on May 6

3-6 month and 6-9/9-12/6-12 month clothes (tailored to the appropriate season). *Everyone* gets you either newborn size (my baby was full term, but on the small side--20th percentile--and the NB sizes fit for...3 weeks, maybe?) or 0-3 month. Which is good, because newborns do go through a lot of outfit changes, but then you come out of the newborn phase into a much smaller clothing stash, and needing to go clothes shopping.

Note that in general, the sizes will either be listed as the range or the upper end of the range. So if it just says "3 months", that's equivalent to a 0-3 month.

A playmat/baby gym was something I didn't get initially, and frantically ran out and got once mine hit 3 months or so, as we were transitioning from "Ok, we just need to keep her alive" to "now what do we *do* with her???".

(The Infant Optics DXR-8 is wonderful, co-signed.)
posted by damayanti at 8:41 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

Parent of a baby that just turned two here. (Is she still a baby? I don't know.) Here are things that I found useful.

We originally registered for an audio baby monitor - I thought "what do I need a spycam for my baby for?" - but the one we got had a bad power supply. We sent it back and bought a video baby monitor when she was three weeks old. I don't regret that. (It's the Infant Optics DXR-8, which has already been mentioned...)

Diaper genies and things to store diapers everywhere - at least on every floor of the house. At the beginning they basically poop with every feeding - maybe eight times a day - and you don't want to be going up and down the stairs every time! (This is especially true if you're the parent that gave birth.)

Similarly, car seats: one for each car, if they are a two-car family. We are, and it was good that both of us could take her to or pick her up from day care (back when that was a thing) or take our own car to fun things with the baby (again, back when that was a thing).

If you're going to buy clothes, not newborn clothes. Everyone else will get them newborn clothes, which they fit into for like three weeks. Some stuff in, say, 6-month or 9-month size, will be appreciated more. (On preview - damayanti beat me to it.) Also do not get fancy clothes. Babies do not go to fancy places and do not need fancy clothes. Get things that can be easily washed.

Probably not some sort of baby-wearing contraption, at least without talking to them first, because different people like different ones. I liked the ones with buckles so that I could feel secure that she wasn't going to drop; my partner liked one that was basically just a bunch of fabric that wrapped around.

Baby Gear Lab is a good source for baby product reviews.

Finally, if the parents don't have a Kindle already, they should. I read a lot while feeding a half-asleep baby in the middle of the night. Phones or tablets have very bright screens and obviously you don't want to turn on the light to read a paper book, plus paper books really need two hands.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:52 AM on May 6

Babies don't need huge quantities of stuff, so check what they get from friends/ baby showers and fill in. Stuffed animals are really cute, but many babies get tons of them, and it can be overkill. 1st aid kit- thermometer, infant tylenol, diaper cream, etc.

Help start the child's library with good books and music.
posted by theora55 at 8:58 AM on May 6

I got my sister a Pack and Play crib which neither of my nephews played or slept in. My sister kept it in her living room and used it as a changing table for the first floor (the kids also had one in their bedrooms) and the crib section to hold all the stuff she needed to change them such as extra diapers, burping cloths, clothes.

Also, when buying clothes for the baby do not forget what season it will be when the baby reaches a certain age range. A newborn baby in January is not going to need winter clothes when it is six months old. Is your SIL planning on nursing the baby? Maybe one or two nursing covers so she has something she can use to cover up if she needs to nurse in public.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 9:17 AM on May 6

I have a 3 year old and am having our 2nd in July. Thought I'd suggest some gifts for the parents - wireless headphones are a sanity saver, good flashlights or touch lights with batteries because they'll be up at night so much, snacks - anything that's easy to eat 1 handed, diaper pail refill bags if you know what kind of pail they have and a big stack of absorbent rags for all the messes.

I found Lucy's List, as mentioned above very helpful when I was shopping for my first.
posted by entropyiswinning at 9:34 AM on May 6

+1 clothing in 6-9 month and 9-12 month sizes. Babies smaller than that don't do much but once they start eating mush and crawling the mess factor goes way up.

White noise machine maybe? I just used an app on my phone to play "car noises" with my now 6 year old but having a separate noise machine might be nice.
posted by MadMadam at 9:34 AM on May 6

Give them some money. They will appreciate having some flexibility to meet their unforeseen needs.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:18 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]

I know a lot of people like to recommend buying clothes in larger sizes, but I personally forgot I had them by the time kiddo was old enough to fit into them.

I would also avoid gifts that assume how the parents intend to feed the baby (e.g. breast pads or nursing clothes — very depressing to have around the house if breastfeeding doesn’t work out). Likewise, gifts that assume how the birthing parent is giving birth (vaginal or c-section).

Diapers would be a great gift if you know for sure they want to use disposables. Be aware babies are all different sizes — don’t buy a ton of newborn size, for example, because baby might arrive in the world already too big.

For the parents, maybe a lamp suitable for overnight feedings that won’t wake up baby? Also a Kindle or other e-reader, also to use during the night.
posted by liet at 10:30 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]

You know what people don't know they need? Those nightgown things. So much easier than wrangling a newborn out of and then back into pants at 2 am.

Also, since you love to shop, you could just take on whatever category of baby stuff they don't care about -- the meds and first aid kit, say, or the high chair. The research takes a long time.
posted by slidell at 1:01 PM on May 6 [1 favorite]

The Power of Showing Up, by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. My favorite parenting book. It is wonderfully liberating for parents and offers a simple and lovely set of suggestions for how to create a secure attachment in your child, while also offering Siegel's considerable body of research that shows that all the things we stress about don't matter for children as much as our presence. A beautiful book that will lift any parent's heart and soul.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 1:32 PM on May 6

as the fresh mama of a 10 week old and not knowing more about the parents-to-be then burping cloths, good coffee and delicious snacks would be gratefully received in the first weeks. (my partner seconds the call for cute burping cloths).

if i was US based i’d have been super grateful if micropipstar had received a subscription to the lovevery kits which match up activities and toys with the baby‘s developmental age.

related from a tech perspective - the Kinedu app is super useful for suggesting age appropriate activities that support early childhood development. there are gift cards available

gender neutral, colourful bodysuits / sleepers in size 3-6 months

again without knowing their feeding, diapering and transport preferences and kid-to-be some ideas might be wildly off target - but we are super grateful to have a couple of stretchy cloth wraps to carry the baby with.

books: what was your favourite childhood story?
Quentin Blake’s Zagazoo is a beautiful book for new parents

access to the Australian animated series Bluey

the grimms large rainbow is heirloom quality loveliness and offers open ended play as the child grows. (available in the US via amazon but linking to the grimms site because oh it is gorgeous and amazon don’t get no love from me).

erring more in the geek direction...

a skwish
posted by pipstar at 1:45 PM on May 6

Burping cloths/lightweight blankets are always useful and you can't have too many of them. (No really; if you get "too many" they will become general cleaning cloths, washclothes, quilting material to fix beloved stuffed toys, etc.)

Diapers that match the diapering plans of the parents are terrific.

I used a baby sling for years and was very very happy with it. I had this style with the two rings; I don't think they were making this other style at the time. I also had a baby-backpack thing for when they were older (6+ months, old enough to hold their head up alone). I got more use out of the sling with my second child than my first, who was prone to holding herself stiff and not relaxing into anything.

You can never know in advance which baby carrying devices are going to work best for your anatomy, your energy level, and the baby's moving/resting habits. This is the issue with all baby toys: some of them like soft fuzzies; some of them like plastic they can chew on; some of them like things that rattle; none of that can be predicted in advance. (But srsly: never too many 28" square receiving blankets. So many uses. And if they have extras, they won't mind throwing away the one that got covered with unpleasant bodily fluids and accidentally thrown into a corner for five days.)

We also got something like this star teether (ours had a wand handle instead of a loop) and we called it "baby's first vibrator." Kid liked the shape but never could get the vibrations to work; they took more pressure than a pre-toothed baby mouth could provide.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:38 PM on May 6

ALL THE BURP CLOTHS. Most of the ones you can find are too small, though - get the biggest ones they sell. (Sorry, no brand recommendation; my partner made most of ours. If I remember correctly, she did it with a baby sleeping in a basket underneath the table with the sewing machine on it. This only works if the baby's ears are full of fluid and therefore the baby can't hear. Do not recommend.)

Also, swaddling cloths. We liked Little Unicorn.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:09 PM on May 6

My granddaughter is now 17 months, and the absolute BEST thing I've discovered that's come along since my kids were little is this portable high chair. I'm also in love with 360 cups.

And one more thing that I totally wish I'd had? Y'know those pouches that applesauce comes in? THEY MAKE REFILLABLE FOOD POUCHES! (That would have made my life SO much simpler!)

And a side note: while I couldn't care less about a changing table (finally got one with the fourth child, maybe used it three times), a baby monitor (audio is sufficient, imo), an ear thermometer, a simple bouncer, and a swing (battery operated with rechargeable batteries, preferably side-to-side over forward-and-back) are essentials imo. A pack-and-play that can double as a bassinet is pretty useful... it does double duty as bed and "baby jail" - for those moments when redirecting is NOT working and she needs a time out but doesn't understand what one is yet - we have an old one where there's both velcro straps to attach the bottom AND the corners tuck in. (It works so much better than the one with just velcro... that one, it takes her about 5 seconds to be tucking herself under the padded base...)

Oh... An Oball, with rattle.
And a night light or stuffie that plays music and has a light show can work wonders for lulling a baby back to sleep.
posted by stormyteal at 11:53 PM on May 6

In the realm of swaddling blankets, the Copper Pearl ones are awesome -- larger than others, stretchy, and soft, plus they have fun patterns and matching hats.

But did I mention nightgowns? Babies poop like 4-6 times / night, it seems. You have to change their diapers all the time. With nightgowns, there are no leg holes, no snaps, not even zippers that never stretch in the right places and can pinch baby's skin. You swaddled your baby up tight but now they've pooped? Well, with many zipper sleepers, the zipper handle is up top so now you have to completely unwrap the baby to get to it. With a onesie, you have to deal with those snaps. With a sleeper, you have to take a leg out half the time. With a nightgown, it's a cinch -- I'm surprised they don't get more attention. The nightgowns are especially awesome that disorienting first month or two.
posted by slidell at 1:29 AM on May 8

Even if the parents are using cloth - there will still be the occasion where disposable diapers are useful.

A really good sleeping bag that can be a good sleeping rug - some of the best naps I ever had were when we were all asleep on the floor for our midday nap.

Lots of flannels - my sons all had sensitive skin, so whenever we left the house I had two plastic bags - one with six damp flannels, the other with six dry flannels. My youngest is now 18, so I only take one of each nowadays.

NO SOCKS. all you ever do is spend your time trying to find the blessed things as they keep slipping off.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 5:45 AM on May 8

A white noise machine. We thought we could do without this because there are so many free apps, which resulted in us not really being able to use our tablet any more during naps or after 7pm because it is on white noise duty. Alternatively, lots of people like Ewan the Dream Sheep.

Our baby hated being swaddled, so we really like the Grobag style baby sleeping bags. He’s 1.5 and we’re still using them.
posted by Concordia at 6:01 AM on May 8

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