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09th Sep 2015

7 Things To Buy The Newborn That Has Everything

"Very few new parents have the time or interest to exchange or return gifts"

Cathy Clarke

First things first, and let’s get this out in the open, we’re among friends here, it’s always nice to get a present – any present.

This article is not about gift giving – it’s about the moment later on when I think to myself, “What about me possessed the giver to bequeath unto me this item?” And, “Why did my friend think the one thing I needed in my life was .. [insert noun here] : oversized jumper, set of perfumes, half a flipper set, a purple toaster, three quarters of a dairy milk – whatever?”

This article is not so much about giving gifts, as it is about receiving them and, in particular, receiving gifts as a new parent. A new parent often has enough going on in their lives without having to work through all the iterations of analysis to understand what the presents mean, and what they are supposed to do with them. So to make things easier for all of you I have compiled a list:

1. Food

The best present you can get new parents really hinges on one question: when are you likely to see the young* couple post-birth? If you are one of the select few who are likely to see them at home in the first few weeks following the birth, then there is only one gift to bring – food that either cooks itself or has minimal effort attached.

By this I mean a homemade lasagne that can be microwaved; store-bought or pre-packaged prepared meals that only need to be thrown in the oven for an hour; a pre-washed and prepared salad with two slabs of meat that just need to be grilled. Basically anything that will give the new parents the sense of a hearty homecooked meal with minimal time and effort.

2. Sophie and Calgel

Food aside, this is the next best present: one is an overpriced piece of rubber and the other is illegal in this country, but together they represent all your teething-problem solutions. The Calgel numbs the pain and is suitable from six months and over (other teething products in this country are only recommended from around two years and over); while Sophie the giraffe is chewable from all angles and easily washed after being flung across the room. These items are essential to ease the pain of emerging teeth.

3. Pre-washed teddy / blanket / accessory

Very few new parents have the time or interest to exchange or return gifts, so there is no need to leave the tags on. Anything that goes against a baby’s skin or into their mouth needs to be washed before use. God knows if the item was lying on some rat infested factory floor before being packaged, shipped and sold, so unless you know exactly where it’s been the whole time, it needs to be washed.

Pop anything you buy into a 30 degree slow-spin wash with some non-bio detergent and stick a label on it to let the mum know that you have done so. That way the baby will be able to use it straight away. Not only have you given a great gift, but you also have not caused extra laundry – kudos to you.

4. Handmade clothes from natural fabrics

Not all babies come out standard sized…. stick with me. Some have long legs, others short arms, others short torsos, some big heads. Mostly it’s not noticeable (especially in the start when all babies wear are baby-grows, cardigans and hats), but eventually, when you have rolled the sleeves up for the millionth time, or had to cut the feet out of every baby-grow, then you start to wish you could get clothes that actually fit your young one. This is where handmade clothes come into their own – knitted cardigans that are long enough in the body but shorter in the arms, crocheted jumpers that have wide necks that can stretch over a head easily. Check out Grandma Knits For Baby on Etsy for a great selection (shameless plug, but honestly totally worth it).

5. Bibs & Dribblers

It is not possible to have enough of these. Babies are constantly emitting some sort of drool, snot, vomit, sick-up, what-have-you. Gifting someone 20 or 30 of these is not excessive – although I warn you the soft ones are only sold in packs of three, which makes them pricey little buggers. Comedy ones are cute, but easy to get on and off Velcro ones are the overall winner here. (Plus, comedy might be a strong word for these greeting card witticisms.) Wash as above before gifting for extra points.

6. Style appropriate outfits

Be it your style or the parents style; rockers get Megadeath t-shirts, county fans get a plaid shirt, ravers get neon pants with led lights on the bum (people who are too young to remember these social categories, even vaguely, are too young to be having kids). These little outfits are cute and funny on their own, but if the parents are getting baby photos done, then they come into their own. Try to avoid ‘Mommy’s little whatever’ or ‘Daddy’s special what-have-you’ etc – it’s too cutesy.

A tip on sizing: Most babies grow fast, and a few show up bigger than the ‘newborn’ size, so at the very least get 0-3 month clothes, however, lots of people like to get clothes a lot bigger and I think that is a great idea – just be careful of the seasons – there is no point in buying a winter baby a snowsuit in 6-9 months because it will be summer by the time they are in that size. Try to get something that is good for all seasons.

7. Something for Mum

Although most mums are happy for the baby to be the focus of attention, it can be nice to get a little token for the mums too.

  • Bath-soaps and lotions are an old favourite; just avoid anything strong smelling that might interfere with bonding.
  • Foods that she loved pre-pregnancy, which turned her stomach during the pregnancy, might be fun to try again – just be mindful of foods that should be avoided while breastfeeding if she is taking that route.
  • If you are close to the parents; an offer of an hour’s sleep could be nice, or staying with the baby while they take a walk, get a coffee, pack bags and plan to leave the country, whatever.

*If you are young enough to be the parent of a newborn, you are young enough to be called young, we will have no ageism here.

Cathy lives in Kildare with her husband, toddler son son and too many animals for a small household, in fact the place often feels like a petting zoo. She is one half of the team behind AHomeMadeByCommittee (an Irish Lifestyle blog) where she discusses motherhood, weddings, DIY, GIY, and everything in between. Follow her on @CathyCClarke.