Baby Shower Shopping
March 18, 2021 2:31 PM   Subscribe

My sister will be giving birth soon-ish. My siblings and I feel confident in the “big things” but less confident on the smaller, less expensive items, and what items are good to have doubles on.

So my questions are:

1. What are some items you didn’t really anticipate needing at the newborn stage that you actually were needed?

2. My sister and her boyfriend will be returning to work after maternity leave and a family member will be babysitting. Both sides of the family and both my sister and her boyfriend are also family-oriented so semi-frequent visits and babysitting with family will occur. Knowing that, what items would it be good to have doubles (or more of)? Right now my sister only has one of each item on her registry.

Really just looking for product advice, not advice on anything else for this question (which my sister is aware I’m doing).
posted by Aranquis to Shopping (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Layette blankets. I always give several, and am generally thanked much later, they can be used as burp cloths, among other things, and having several means one doesn’t have skimp on use.
posted by dbmcd at 2:40 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

You keep odd hours, your hands are not free on account of the baby you're holding, and you're bored, so: wireless earbuds (can be cheap, but must be wireless) and a library card that allows its owner to borrow audiobooks.
posted by caek at 2:42 PM on March 18, 2021

I had NO IDEA how many bibs we would go through in a day.
posted by lyssabee at 2:43 PM on March 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

1. Swaddles with velcro. I never mastered the plain blanket swaddle.
2. Small baby bottles when breastfeeding did not go as smoothly as planned.
3. In the first three months, what I needed most desperately was sleep and help. (Thanks to the coronavirus, I got little of either.) So if you can visit - coupons or something for blocks of time that you will help and let her sleep.
4. Agree with many bibs and blankets, although I didn't use either of those until a little past the newborn stage.
posted by acantha at 2:48 PM on March 18, 2021

bibs and spit up cloths (we used cloth diapers constantly draped over our shoulders). So many. So, so many.
posted by gaspode at 2:49 PM on March 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

Floating baby bath thermometer.

Nightlights bright enough to change diapers by.
posted by lepus at 3:00 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Swaddles with velcro! We had about 10 and that was...not too many.

A safe place to put the baby down in each zone/floor of the house. We had a bassinet upstairs and our parked stroller with a bassinet attachment on our main floor. This way you can put baby down to eat or go to the bathroom without worry.

I had one soft easy to wear robe, I would have really liked having two. I cannot recommend this one enough: soft, good coverage, stylish enough that I didn't feel super gross in pictures, A+ just had a baby wear.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 3:02 PM on March 18, 2021

As the guy who has been included with some baby showers, everybody has told me that cloths for cleaning up (spitup, etc.) are always, always a great thing to buy extra of, so that's my go-to.
posted by xingcat at 3:02 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Echoing the suggestion of several packages of cloth diapers; you can never have too many of those around. The nightlight is a good idea, too, if it's strong enough to change a diaper but not so bright it's tough to sleep.

Everyone floods new-baby-homes with food, which is great, but sometimes it's too much all at once. We started sending complete meals to folks a couple of weeks afterward, when things started calming down a bit. So I'll say food, or ways to get food that are easy to eat and clean up afterward.
posted by jquinby at 3:10 PM on March 18, 2021

a good, big, simple, light diaper bag.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:11 PM on March 18, 2021

We used a zip-up swaddle (specifically the Woombie, but there are others) because my Hulk-like children could rip out of any velcro swaddle in minutes, and regular blanket swaddles were about as effective as just tossing the blanket lightly on top of the baby. You will definitely need more than one because there will be inevitable spit up and poopsplosions and putting a swaddle-loving kid back down with no swaddle after a midnight blowout is no fun.

Aden & Anais large gauze blankets were great--good for lying on, sun shades, breastfeeding cover ups, and would have been a good size for a blanket swaddle if not for the aforementioned Hulkitude. Having 4-5 of them meant that one was always clean and available. They're expensive but awesome.

Wireless earbuds weren't really a thing yet at that time but would have been great.

My kids just wore one-piece footie nor non-footie pajamas/playsuits all the time, day and night, until they learned to crawl. We went through lots of those, and "real clothes" were pretty much only for special occasions. So lots of those.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:13 PM on March 18, 2021

Best answer: Nail clippers

Disposable changing pads for diaper changes out and about

I looked back at my online shopping history from the newborn stage. There honestly wasn’t that much stuff we had to buy. Most of it was nursing/pumping/formula related because breastfeeding was a trainwreck.
posted by redlines at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2021

I give dish towels, to be used to clean up... everything.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:27 PM on March 18, 2021

Along with bibs, baby washcloths. At least two dozen. (And they are small and thin - at least the ones we got - so take up virtually no space.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

As a sort of silent backup to cute textiles for catching various effluents I recommend also offering one or more packages of these jumbo flour sack towels. I have owned many and these particular ones are the best, they're bedsheet-thick with a decent hem and will withstand many bleachings/oxi-cleanings.

I don't have any babies in the house and I still have about 30 of them for drying my hair, hand towels, table cover if I'm doing something messy, adult bib since I eat at my desk, carried one in my purse for hot flashes, rolled the edge up in my car window to make a temporary shade when I was sitting parked in the sun, drying wet dogs, kitchen towel, proving bread, straining yogurt, the list goes on and on.

IKEA MÖRKRÄDD nightlights are bright but warm white so it's not that hideous bluewhite LED light. They're in my bathrooms and I can read packaging by them, but they don't completely destroy my night vision.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2021

N'thing the cloth diapers to use for everything, and also these zip-up dry bags. I *always* keep one in our diaper bag as they're perfect for dirty diapers (if you're somewhere you can't throw it away), messy or wet clothes, etc.
posted by lovableiago at 3:39 PM on March 18, 2021

Baby having friends have reported much gratitude for these nylon grocery bag sets. They fold up into an attached pouch, can be tossed in the washing machine, are lightweight so you can always have one in a purse or car or wherever, and are each different colors and patterns so you can have different ones for different purposes. Good for sub-organizing giant bucket bags, small loads of dirty laundry, groceries of course, sorting clutter in problem areas, returning containers with lids from food drop offs by well meaning neighbors, etc. The handles and bag are made from one piece so no seams to worry about ripping, they dry super fast, and the pouch has a little loop so you can hang them on a hook even folded up.
posted by Mizu at 3:49 PM on March 18, 2021

My inexpensive baby shower go-to gift is a hand-cranked food mill. Irrelevant for a newborn, but very helpful when the baby starts eating solid food in a few short months, which will likely coincide with that post-leave time when you or someone else in the family might be called on to babysit.
posted by cheapskatebay at 3:49 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I definitely would have appreciated some sort of baby sling or carrier - I had a baby who hated being swaddled but loved being on my chest. If I’d had a sling for newborn babies, the first month would have been a lot easier!

I would also have liked to have owned more wrap tops. Easier for breastfeeding.

Another thing I wish I’d had a little sooner than I did was a Star Suit - it’s a cosy little star-shaped wearable blanket that 6/6 babies I know find easy to wear, and that their parents find easy to put on. Fantastic outerwear, especially for wriggly babies.

I second:
- lots of muslins for wiping up spit-up and dribble
- no or few fancy clothes - babygros all the way! I prefer the ones that have snaps, so I only have to undress the bottom half of the baby when he needs a change.
- dribble bibs

Things that are useful to have at more than one caretaker’s house:
- changing mat (and changing supplies)
- some sort of baby bouncer seat
- toys (don’t go overboard though!)
- muslins and bibs
- eventually, baby spoons and plates

I’d also recommend waiting to buy more than one specialised swaddle. Some babies just don’t like them (my son just cried even harder when put in the Woombie - he wanted to have his arms free). Buy one, by all means, and if the parents find it works, buy more.
posted by Rissa at 3:58 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

If they would appreciate it, something like Alexa. My sister in law has a 9month old, her second kid, and said it's been mind-blowing how helpful it is to be able to add to the shopping list, check the time, put on music etc while her hands are either full or (constantly) dirty.
posted by bashing rocks together at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2021

The problem with this stuff is that it’s so so personal. I’m scrolling through the answers so far and thinking “yeah, never used that”, “that wouldn’t have worked for us” etc. If there’s any way to give your sister some kind of big gift card to purchase the random small items that inevitably come up that would be very appreciated I’m sure. It was really hard to predict ahead of time what would end up becoming our must-haves.
posted by peacheater at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Ugh, the newborn stuff is so easy and there's always too much of it that you never use.

Though a forehead and/or ear thermometer is an absolute must. I also recommend having a couple of the nose-bulb things on hand, at least one for home and one for the diaper bag. Plus baby nail clippers.

I've rarely used a baby brush past a couple of months - mine (and the granddaughter) all had curls, so it was a small comb and detangle spray, once they had hair.

There's a couple other newborn things mixed in that I recommend. (Someday, I need to organize this list.)

Magical things are stuff that starts a couple months later, that you didn't know you needed, and it would never occur to you to research, if you even had time to during the newborn days:
- a folding portable highchair
- this chair seatbelt thing is pretty nice, too. we used both with granddaughter and we're still using this and she's 2y4m
- 360 cups with handles
- a play yard is super nice after they outgrow a pack n play with bassinet
- Extra pack n play or crib sheets.
- The best changing mats I've ever had were made from a flat waterproof fabric mattress pad, cut into the appropriate size, with the cut edges finished. Portable, washable, and plentiful.
- The best burp clothes, IMO, are flat, single-layer, unfolded, unsewn, plain fabric diapers.
- Second favorite is a yard of baby flannel with the edges finished.
- Favorite style of baby blanket is two (different) yards of baby flannel, sewn together.
- Extra baby wipes - go with sensitive skin ones just in case, IMO
- Disposable diapers, if they're using them. Not size newborn or 1. Always buy size 2 or 3.
- A bathtub toy net. Also, a stuffed toy net(s) or chain(s), plus stick-on hooks.
- Reusable food pouches if they'd use them. They also work for toddlers and preschoolers and applesauce or anything you can throw in the blender. They come in multiple sizes, and are freezable.
- Doggie poo bags. I mean, you can spend extra and get baby-decorated ones... but they're awfully nice to have in the diaper bag. Oh, and a dispenser.
- A bottle drying rack (for bottles, and for those food pouches I mentioned)
- This style of car seat cover
- Heat-sensitive spoons. Oh, and a duck.
- No-scratch mittens (I recommend a larger pack of cheaper ones
- Little laundry bags for delicates. Especially if baby will wear dresses. SO MANY have tulle these days! And I've always used them to keep little socks, soft shoes, mittens, etc together.
- And these sock things I just discovered that are amazing. (I'm gonna make us a bunch, though - cord locks and paracord are much cheaper, and we don't need the cutesy hanger, just hooks on the walls.)
posted by stormyteal at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2021 [5 favorites]

A set of rechargeable batteries and a premium charger that will accommodate all sizes is a must. It seems that everything related to babies takes batteries and they get drained quickly.
posted by mezzanayne at 6:09 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you are looking for specific recommendations, here are a few of my most indispensable newborn items:
Boppy Newborn Lounger
Sleepea Swaddle
Wrap style carrier (Here's a link for the Solly brand, but I think they are probably all the same)
posted by mjcon at 6:59 PM on March 18, 2021

Agreed with the comment that this is very subjective, but here’s what I would have appreciated:

- 360 cup. Munchkin brand is most popular, and literally every baby/toddler I know uses one.
- Cosco Scenera Next car seat for non-primary cars your baby will frequently be in—very inexpensive as far as car seats go, great for travel, and a really solid backup. My friend got one for her mother-in-law’s car, another got one for her dad’s car.
- An Amazon Prime subscription (they have some of the best prices on diapers) with gift cards... because you don’t know what you’ll suddenly need, but when you need it, you won’t want to worry about money and you’ll want it ASAP.
posted by saltypup at 9:58 PM on March 18, 2021

For baby
- love this Calendula baby shampoo & body wash
- organic re-usable baby wash cloths (we have about 20-30 of them, they are so useful and dope!!)
- organic jojoba or coconut oil for baths, baby massage etc.
- Bepanthen butt cream (zinc doesn't work for our kiddos for whatever reason)
- nail clippers & headlamp (for cutting nails in the middle of the night, I never remembered to do it during the day for some reason)
- little mittens
- snuggle blanket
- maybe a groovy little mobile

for mom/nursing stuff:
- haakaa breast pump
- rosewater for mom (the food kind! great for sore nipples, and doesn't need to be washed off before breastfeeding)
- yummy instant decaf?
- almonds, oat cookies to boost milk production
- Epsom salts
posted by speakeasy at 4:33 AM on March 19, 2021

Best answer: There are heaps of good things suggested here.

The things that we ordered or had to go buy: sleep sack (our girl was decidedly anti swaddle) and she was so congested- baby nose saline spray plus a nose Frida - but snot remover will do.

So many burp cloths (such a polite name)

Wet bags are useful even if you don't cloth nappy.

Speaking of cloth, one of the best presents was some nappies that allowed us to go all night without changing.

If you are buying clothes, go for a size or two bigger and consider the season- how big will they be when they fit this? For pyjamas, some like snaps, some like zips. If you go zips, get the ones that are two way zips!
posted by freethefeet at 4:48 AM on March 19, 2021

This is going to be a bit unorthodox but your sister and anybody else taking care of the baby in its first few days will thank you.

A small, cheap bottle of olive/mineral/baby oil. Put it on the baby's diaper area after you've changed them. You'll only need to do this for the first few days, but it will go a long way towards helping with cleaning off the meconium (sticky, tarry poo) easily and quickly. (Another life changing tip for new parents: put the new diaper under the baby before changing them, like a changing pad. It won't be necessary all the time but sometimes will make cleanup much, much easier.)

Also, if the baby will have bottles and your sister is comfortable with the arrangement, offer to spend the night with the baby in your sister's house with the baby and give her a night off. Sleep is the best gift a new parent can get.
posted by kdar at 8:03 AM on March 19, 2021

Best answer: People have already covered a lot, but here are my thoughts. (Our first baby is almost three years old; our second is three months.)

Things they'll want multiples of:
- If their house has multiple floors, one diaper genie per floor. You don't want to have to go up or downstairs to change a diaper.
- If they have multiple cars, one car seat per car. Installing those things properly is a pain, especially in the rear-facing years.
- SO MANY BURP CLOTHS. (Incidentally, most store-bought burp cloths are not very nice, and they are easy to make; if anybody knows how to sew, that is a very thoughtful gift.) I think my partner made 24 and that is enough, but surprisingly not too many.

We registered for an audio baby monitor (because what did we need a camera to spy on our baby for?) but then the one we got turned out to be defective, and we ended up getting a video one. I don't regret that.

Don't bother with "real" clothes for newborns. They are cute but will not get worn. (I may be biased by the fact that our second baby was born during the pandemic so there's nowhere to go anyway.) Also everyone who gets the kid clothes will get newborn clothes; if you want to get the kid clothes, get them in a bigger size, like 6 or 9 or 12 months. Remember what season it will be when the kid is that size - we had some clothes given to us that literally never got worn because of this. (I think most were hand-me-downs, not bought specifically for our kid, though.) By the way, the number on the clothes is the expiration date - "3-month" clothes are supposed to fit them from 0 to 3 months, "6-month" from 3 to 6 months, and so on.

As for swaddles, our first really liked being swaddled in the traditional swaddle blanket (just a big cloth square) whereas our second didn't care for that and likes the velcro swaddle, so don't buy too many of either until they know which kind the baby likes.

We were surprised to find that a bottle drying rack someone got us was useful.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:22 AM on March 19, 2021

Oh - if mom is nursing, extra tubes of Lansinoh.
posted by jquinby at 8:47 AM on March 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We got prefolds (mostly gently used but for most people they'd prefer new) and they got used for everything from diapering to now 2.5 year old creative messes. They are godsends.

If you can wait on baby clothes sizes, I'd recommend that. Our family assumed BIG BABY and our kid came out at under 6 pounds and followed the carters assumptions for baby sizing to a T all the way through 24 months. We could have used newborn clothes and 3 month clothes. The smallest we were gifted was 6months, which was fine in that we really didn't care that they were big, but if you can wait and so a bit of a splurge for the clothes that will fit the baby right now, it might be appreciated .

Stuff for teething babies, just get it now. Chewing things, baby teething gel stuff, bunch of different stuffs. That time will sneak up and they will be greatful.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:41 AM on March 19, 2021

When my friends had twins I bought them about a dozen multi-packs of basic baby onesies, the kind you get in K-Mart or Target, that come in a pack of four. I got them in short sleeves, long sleeves and in all ages from new-born through to 18-months. They said later that it was one of the more useful gifts they were given, the other being a giant Costco-sized pack of toilet rolls.
posted by essexjan at 3:34 PM on March 19, 2021

Parent of 2.5 year old and 4 month old kids here. I want to recommend things that have utility from infant to toddlerhood that I didn't necessarily expect to be so useful:

- high chair that straps to a regular chair and can accommodate small babies in a reclined position or toddlers in a booster seat. Baby can be at the table at meal time from about 2 months even though they aren't eating. And then they are used to being at the table for meals in their "seat" once they are on solids.

- cotton flannel wash cloths are good for all types of clean up. We got some for bums, but got more for wiping hands and face after meals. The toddler still uses them even though she prefers washing her hands in the sink because she can wipe up with the cloth all by herself.

- Nose freida

- cool mist humidifier

- boppy nursing pillow. The toddler still loves to sit in the middle of it! We use it for tummy time, assisted sitting, and breastfeeding.

- high quality play mat. I love Toki Mats, they're soft but firm, stylish, large, and both kids love playing on it. I didn't have one for my first, and it was the first thing I bought when I knew we were having another. It's not cheap, but it's extremely functional.
posted by stripesandplaid at 4:26 PM on March 21, 2021

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