Why is picking a good gift so difficult?
August 30, 2006 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me think of useful baby gift.

Baby boy was born yesterday. They have plenty of hand me down items (all the basics) to start. They are in Cleveland, OH--I am in St. Louis, MO so I will have to ship the item. Help me think of something really utilitarian or just really cute (either for baby/parents/both). Suggested website/links would be most appreciated.

PS I am not creative or crafty so making something is not an option.
posted by rglass to Shopping (45 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Diapers. Lots and lots of diapers.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 AM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Boppy (if they're nursing)
posted by j at 7:59 AM on August 30, 2006


My six year old still sleeps with her comfort silkie.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:03 AM on August 30, 2006


Babystyle has tons of cute things. For example, this lamb chair or this ring stacker.
If you want to be truely practical, and if your relationship is appropriate, give mom some lansinoh breast pads to stop the fountains of milk she's going to be swimming in for the next few weeks. Or some of these nursing tanks, if she is.
If you give them clothes, don't give them newborn things. They probably have tons of them already. But if you buy clothes for the future, make sure you figure out what age the baby will be during the appropriate season to get the right size.
posted by leapingsheep at 8:08 AM on August 30, 2006


Sending in hot dinners from a local delivery restaurant, or gift certificates thereto.
posted by Andrhia at 8:09 AM on August 30, 2006


Pee-pee teepee.
diapers.
Cook them some meals.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:14 AM on August 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


Food! Go through the amazon grocery / luxury food store, send them stuff that's yummy and easy to prepare and/or comforting.

Also, my family's traditional baby gift: hardcover copies of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:15 AM on August 30, 2006


A second on the boppy. Good not only for nursing/feeding support, also makes for more comfortable sitting if the mom's had an episiotomy.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:18 AM on August 30, 2006


This is one of those looks-homemade but isn't things...
I know you said you're not crafty, but this isn't any more crafty than wrapping a present. Heck, my mom can barely manage that (I think I've been wrapping all her christmas gifts since I was 12), but I got this idea from her.

Take a giant coffee can or similar container you won't want back, cover it with baby wrapping paper, and put a big branch (with many offshoots) spray painted white in it in sand or (more frequently) clean kitty litter.
From each little "branch" on the tree she'd hang pacifiers, teething rings, rattles, baby socks, batteries (for the moniter), bibs, bottle cleaners, etc. The little odds and ends people rarely give as shower gifts since they're too small, but are apparently really useful.

I've done it a couple times and people loved it.

If even that's too crafty for you, how about getting the same sort of little odds and ends, and packing them all into a cute diaper bag, and giving the whole thing as a present?
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:18 AM on August 30, 2006


One of the portrait sitting fee plans. I know sears calls theirs Smile Saver Plan. You can sign up for it online. It'll run you about thirty bucks and if they're like a lot of parents they'll be going at least 4 times in the first year for photographs. The plan lasts for 2 years and saves them 15 bucks each time.
posted by nadawi at 8:20 AM on August 30, 2006


Cute: Several of your favorite childrens' books, with a note saying how much you enjoyed them as a child.

Parents: Local gift certificate for massage or foot-rub intensive pedicure.

Practical: Yep, diapers, diapers and yet more diapers. There's a bunch of places online that will ship diaper cakes for you.
posted by lalex at 8:22 AM on August 30, 2006


You might want to ask what kind of diapers they're using before you ship them a bunch. Maybe they won't care, though.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:26 AM on August 30, 2006


Boon makes pretty highly recommended, cute, affordable products.
posted by true at 8:26 AM on August 30, 2006


Gift certificates for food that delivers.

The baby doesn't care about toys or clothes until way after he's one and, unless they have a nanny/mother-in-law staying with them, the parents are exhausted. But they're probably freaked enough that they don't want a babysitter yet.

What can you do to allow them to focus on each other, the kid and sleeping and forget all the other stuff?

A maid service is contentious, but if they're the type, that's good. A massage session at their house for mom and dad.
posted by Gucky at 8:26 AM on August 30, 2006


Tiny Chuck Taylors.
posted by padraigin at 8:30 AM on August 30, 2006


After going through it ourselves, we've always given new parents diapers as a gift (either at the baby shower or after they're home from the hospital). The reaction on receiving them is muted, generally, until about a week after the baby is home, and then it turns into sincere appreciation.

Honestly, what the parents need most at that time is rest. What the baby needs is love, food, and diapers. So unless you're in the neighbourhood and able to give the parents some time off, diapers are the answer. Consider sending a gift certificate to whatever store they shop at, if shipping costs are an issue.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:35 AM on August 30, 2006


Little (possibly electronic) toys that make a lot of (usually repetitive) noise.

Unless you're planning on having kids at some point and fear reprisal. In that case, I'd go with the food gift certificates (either somewhere that delivers, or somewhere local you can do takeout).
posted by inigo2 at 8:36 AM on August 30, 2006


Sleep sack (store selected at random from google search for "halo sleep sack")

Cute and utilitarian portable changing pad. I haven't used this but it's on my list for a friend who's expecting in a couple of months, and for me if I ever have a 3rd.

Do not give "Goodnight Moon." We ended up with 7 copies for our firstborn. It got very hard to write sincere thank-you notes. But books you remember loving are a nice gift idea.
posted by not that girl at 8:46 AM on August 30, 2006


For a TRULY utilitarian gift, give Costco-sized packs of AA and D batteries.
posted by peep at 9:10 AM on August 30, 2006


i always give hanna andersson, typically a few sizes up.
posted by sdn at 9:14 AM on August 30, 2006


Baby sling, baby sling, baby sling! Depending on where your friends are, there may even be someone who sells them and will do a training session on the different positions etc.

The complete Winnie the Pooh stories performed by Peter Dennis are fabulous. You can get them on iTunes. We enjoy them just as much as the kids!
posted by Biblio at 9:22 AM on August 30, 2006


I second the book idea. A basket of your favorite children's books (for various ages) will be loved for many many years. A handwritten note in each will be read over and over.
posted by kdern at 9:34 AM on August 30, 2006


You can never go wrong with books.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 9:48 AM on August 30, 2006


After having recently gone through that phase with our 14 month old twins - for the practical: diapers, wipes, baby monitor (with or without video), an extra base for their car seat to put in a second car, a Baby Bjorn. If they don't have one, how about a video or digital camera. Gift certificates for local eateries that deliver.
posted by jaimev at 10:11 AM on August 30, 2006


You didn't say whether this was a first child or not; if not, then make a point of getting a gift for the big brother or big sister. It's so easy to forget about them when all the attention is on the new baby. I've given t-shirts - something like "I'm the BIG brother now!" And there are probably books for kids about kids with a new baby in the house...
posted by crepeMyrtle at 10:20 AM on August 30, 2006


Relatively new mom here (my baby is 10 months). I second the Hanna Andersson clothing -- an aunt gave us 3 outfits in ascending size (40, 50, and 70cm), and the quality, softness, durability and little details (stretchy necks, wrists and ankles) made dressing our baby easy -- and this is no small feat, given how horribly big and awkward you feel as a new parent, faced with a tiny, tiny baby with a large head on a floppy stalk of a neck. If you find a little outfit that buttons in front, more power to ya. I loved the wiggle pants and jeepers creepers. Worth every penny, and I'm about to buy more.

I love the things at Mahar Dry Goods, like the bunny towels and the Japanese bunny art prints.

If you must give diapers -- suck up the expense and give Pampers. Everything else leaks. If you give other stuff like a baby medicine chest: Desitin has the highest amount of zinc and is best for diaper rashes. Nothing else compares. Tylenol is great. Ditch the baby powder and oil. Add a few different thermometers (like a fever strip for the forehead as well as a rectal thermometer). Target brand wipes are extremely soft and gentle.

Target gift cards were SO helpful (if you live near one).

Best neighborly presents were the home-made meals people brought over, since cooking was beyond me, but I would have given my right arm for a cleaning service to clean the house for the next couple of months, given how many visitors we had. If you want to offer a service to the new mom -- offer to help her get her baby announcements out.

Stuff that turned out not to be useful: not every baby likes slings (mine doesn't) -- I have 3 of them wasting away in the closet. The wipe warmer never got used. Most room decor stuff in pretty personal unless you know exactly what the parents want for the kid.
posted by mdiskin at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2006


As someone who just had a baby - food gift certificates rock. My work sent us a couple hundred bucks in Waiters on Wheels gift certificates. The first few weeks - those were awesome. If a grocery store in their area delivers - gift certificates for that are also great.
Instead of the boppy - if she's nursing - I'd recommend the unfortunately named My Breast Friend. Same ideas - much better execution.
Infant carriers come in a million different styles and are total matter of preference for the mom and the baby- be aware of that before you buy a sling, bjorn, wrap or the like.
The miracle blanket is great if it turns out their little one likes to be swaddled.
We asked for and got our friend's favorite childrens books - lots of the classics and some great titles I'd never seen or heard of. She is 10 weeks old and has a fantastic library we can't wait to read to her.
You can never have enough spit rags. Cloth diapers work great for this. A mega pack is not particularly glamorous - but oh so useful.
posted by Wolfie at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2006


Etsy has tons of handmade, unique, baby-related items. Stuffed toys, diaper bags, blankets, etc. Sellers there are easy to reach through email or the site's messaging system, and the ones I've talked to have always been very quick to respond. You'd need to make sure the items are truly baby-safe, but if the description says it is, it probably is - the feedback system will let you see whether a seller has had any complaints, and how many successful transactions they've had.
posted by jessicapierce at 10:24 AM on August 30, 2006


As a mom of 6-month old twins, I second mdiskin's answer above. I would have loved gift certificates for take-out/delivery places near me and I would really have loved a gift certificate for a maid service a few months in!

One of our favorite gifts was personalized baby blankets. Not all baby blankets are created alike, though - the reason we love ours so much is that the fabric is a waffle weave-type thing which provides great breathability and temperature control. The satin edge was embroidered with not only our babies' names but also the date/time of birth, birthweight, name of sis, names of parents, even the name of our doggie. Unfortunately I can't remember the name or find the site...
posted by widdershins at 10:42 AM on August 30, 2006


As the mom of an 8 week old baby boy, I can tell you that my favorite gift is a gift card to Babies R Us or Target. I know it's not a special gift you selected but it is really the most useful and is very appreciated.

Whatever you give, it should be returnable. Our son was born big and he's growing fast. We've gotten too-small already outfits from boutiques in other cities so we can't return or exchange these. We've also gotten at least 8 copies each of Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpiller. We can't return or exchange the ones from unknown stores. Outfits from stores that everyone has, like The Gap or Babies R Us are best.

A swing or a bouncy seat is a great gift and one they will use and thank you for every time they put the baby in it and see how happy he is.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2006


It might not be the most practical suggestion, but I love Mahar Dry Goods for cutesy baby/kid stuff. I got my niece an adorable blanky ( One Lucky Baby's etsy shop has some more boy-friendly versions).
posted by logic vs love at 11:07 AM on August 30, 2006


I would say a gift card would be most practical. If you want cutesy, how about a hand painted and decorated horseshoe?

Disclaimer - my 10 year old daughter runs the horseshoe business
posted by COD at 11:14 AM on August 30, 2006


Second the blanket, spit cloths, books, gift certificates and diapers. Our kid never liked any of the stuffed toys he received and it feels like a very nasty type of murder to get rid of them now. Some very sweet friends gave him six pairs of socks. These were remarkably useful. Long sleeved onesies in the size he needed for winter were very gratefully received. I'm still playing with the Brio train set his uncle gave him. Have fun.
posted by firstdrop at 11:16 AM on August 30, 2006


More of a gift to the parents than the baby, Rock-A-Bye Bear works. This is a link to one on Ebay, but I'm sure they're still available new.
posted by JABof72 at 11:43 AM on August 30, 2006


A third vote for Hanna Anderson! Those stripey pajamas are the best. They wash well, look adorable, and last forever.
posted by greenbean at 12:11 PM on August 30, 2006


We have a twopointfive month old baby girl. The single best gift given to us was two swaddling blankets like this one.

Seriously. After two horrible days and nights where my post-caesarian wife was breaking down in sobbing fits, we dug this gift out and used it. We were absolutely overjoyed at how well it calmed our daughter down and let her (and therefore us) sleep.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:21 PM on August 30, 2006


Thank you all so much for these wonderful suggestions. I really needed some guidance and now have so many sites to research. Thanks again!
posted by rglass at 12:23 PM on August 30, 2006


Don't forget music! For some reason, no one ever thinks to get CDs and babies just love music. Laurie Berkner, They Might Be Giants, movie soundtracks (like The Lion King, The Muppet Movie and Curious George), Free to Be You and Me, and general classical CDs are all favorites in our house.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:51 PM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Just want to ditto how cool this thread is. Totally lurking, but with the Turduckling on the way, it's given me lots to fear and covet.
posted by turducken at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2006


Here's a vote against diapers. What if they're using cloth? And also a vote in favor of food, in whatever form you can do that. If the mom's breastfeeding, she'll have an astounding appetite (I speak through experience).

My standard gifts are dish or hand towels -- you can't have enough absorbant material around with a newborn -- and, for close friends, copies of "So That's What They're For" by Janet Tamaro.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:45 PM on August 30, 2006


Baby sling, baby sling, baby sling!

I gotta veto this as not a good gift to get for someone else. Mom and Dad need to try out the different types and decide which they (and the baby) like best.

Neat music that the parents would like, but isn't too crashing or loud. Their lives are going to revolve around the baby in every other way -- something that reminds them that they are actual people with personalities will be a great boost when they're exhausted.

If you want to get the baby something cute, bibs are good -- they don't grow out of 'em in minutes.
posted by desuetude at 2:06 PM on August 30, 2006


I have to say that in my experience the diaper cream that's superior to Desitin is Boudreaux's Butt Paste.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:32 PM on August 30, 2006


A portable high chair.
posted by brujita at 10:55 PM on August 30, 2006


father of an almost-two-year-old-boy, here:
get them clothes in a size they can use in 3-9 months. Everybody buys them the cutest "little" outfits to wear right now, but what about when that kid - quickly! - grows out of the cute newborn-sized stuff? Where's the shower of gifts for the 8-month-old who gets even messier and is going to start crawling soon?
they'll scratch their heads now (if it's their first kid), but they'll "get it" in a short time.

A grocery store gift certificate to be used for diapers and supplies would also be awesome.

Also, we got about 25 blankets when he was born (yeah, I know, the "curse" of bounty!), but we realistically only used about two of them. The rest are going to be "re-gifted" or have been donated to charity...
posted by I, Credulous at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2006


Holy moses. I totally forgot to tout trumpette.com -- purveyor of the hands-down cutest socks EVER. The Mary Jane socks are the best for little baby girls, but they also have boots for boys and a ton of other patterns.

This was our most-used gift that was small, cute, and practical all in one. We got 2 boxes of the mary janes as gifts, and I bless the givers -- little babies need their feets covered but it's a sin to put shoes on those little tiny piggies!

They're expensive (24 bucks for a box of 6 pairs) but totally worth it.
posted by mdiskin at 8:37 PM on September 1, 2006


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