Monday, 22 April 2013

Top tip - gift shopping for a newborn

When my first niece was born almost 6 years ago, she was the first baby that 'legitimally' granted me access to baby shops. Before then, even venturing into the baby section of a department store would set my other half's pulse racing and make cold beads of sweat appear on his forehead.

Have you ever noticed how baby shops are a bit like carpet and tile shops? Until you become a homeowner, these shops are invisible. Mothercare, Mamas and Papas and all the rest - you just don't see them until you need to. Once that veil is lifted and you enter The Baby Section, it's a world of confusion. But for a lot of ladies (and I'm definitely including myself in this) the sight of all those adorable teeny tiny clothes can set your biological clock into overdrive!

What I didn't realise until I became a mother, was what sort of gift would be useful to new parents. Without bordering on the side of ungrateful, I thought I'd share some tips on the kind of presents that I would now buy for a newborn, and what I might avoid.

What to avoid

First of all, I'll start with the things I would be very careful when buying. I would like to emphasise that of course, no presents are ungratefully received, I'm just passing on my advice of what the new parents might really love to receive. I am definitely guilty of making these mistakes, so don't feel bad, it's definitely the thought that counts!
  • If you're buying clothes, definitely buy at least a size or two up (3-6 months or 6-9 months) but beware of the seasons! Work out what time of year the baby will be at that size so that you can avoid buying a thick jumper for the summer, or a pair of shorts for winter. It is tricky because the clothes available in the shops are usually for the current and next season, so it's really easy to make this mistake.
  • Booties, scratch mits and hats while incredibly cute, are not actually that useful (in my humble opinion). Booties fall off. Scratch mits fall off and a lot of sleepsuits now come with built in mittens. Babies only need to wear hats outside and the parents will probably have plenty already.
  • Cuddly and soft toys... maybe a slightly sensitive one, but bear in mind that the baby won't play with these for almost a year... unless you count chewing and dribbling. UPDATE: Actually, I'm going to backtrack on this one as we did receive some lovely soft toys that Bobble does now play with. I guess I'm just wary as I know some parents that received loads of soft toys - I'll let you decide!
  • White and neutral clothes. If the parents didn't know whether they were have a blue or pink flavoured bundle, they will probably have already got quite a lot of white and neutral sleepsuits and baby-gros. Why not buy something bright and colourful instead?
  • It's not mandatory to dress babies in either baby blue and soft pink!
  • Any kind of shoes. Like booties and hats, you can get some incredibly cute shoes, but for me, I didn't want the hassle of another thing to wrestle with during nappy changes.
So what should you buy... these are my ideas of what would go down well.


  • A lot of people don't bother to dress their baby in anything other than sleepsuits or baby-gros for the first few months of their life, so if you're going to buy an outfit, buy it in a 3-6+ month size.
  • Babies wear sleepsuits at bedtime for at least the first year of their life, so these are a very safe bet.
  • Vests are worn underneath clothes for at least the first year too, and while they're not the most exciting present to buy, you can get some pretty funky ones out there.
  • Dribble bibs! See my other post about beating the dribble.


  • Any kind of teething toy will be appreciated. Everything goes in the mouth for almost the whole of the first year, so something specificially designed to be chomped on is great.
  • Lamaze make some wonderful, brightly coloured toys and many are suitable from birth. 
  • Musical instruments - basic rattles or bell toys will give pleasure right the way through to 12+. 
  • Anything with a mirror on will go down well. 


  • You can't go wrong with books. While it will be a long time until the baby is reading, something simple that the parent can read to the baby during storytime will be appreciated.
  • Books with flaps, pop up bits and finger puppets are fab and will delight the baby.


  • Not the cop out you might think! New parents receive so many presents - I found the generosity overwhelming - so a voucher that they can put aside and spend a few months later on something they later discover that they need for their baby is a great option. Some of the places that I'd love to receive a gift voucher for would include Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury (incredibly lovely and good value clothes in the Tu range), Mothercare/ELC, Mamas and Papas, John Lewis and Debenhams.

Other ideas

Why not get creative and think outside the box with one of these ideas?
  • Pampering session for Mum.
  • An offer of an evening or day of babysitting.
  • A voucher for a trip to a pottery painting cafe - see my other post about making memories.
  • If you've got great photographic skills, why not offer to come and take some photos of the baby and mum and dad?
  • Chocolates - the appetite of the breastfeeding mum is enormous!
  • A platter of soft cheeses and pate if mum was a big fan of these banned foods!
How have your present buying habits changed since you became a parent? Or what has been the best present that you received for your newborn? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Photo credit: TangoPango / / CC BY-NC   

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