If you’re like me, you’ve reached a stage where it feels like every week, a friend is having a baby.
You’re happy for them, but find yourself entering a category of gifts and cards that you have little-to-no experience in. This raises the question: What do you get people who’ve made people?
Like many, my first port of call was a baby shop. This one was a giant warehouse of baby paraphernalia. I didn’t know what any of it was, and I couldn’t afford most of it.
For the sake of comparison, for what it would cost me to furnish my living room, I could’ve, maybe, bought a pram.
Do they even need a pram?
Instead of guessing, I thought I’d ask. I spoke to several new mums and dads to see what gifts they liked, what they wished they got, and what they did get but weren’t that into.
A gift for mum, and sleep
Liz, mum to two-year-old Rose:
“A chance to sleep was the biggest gift for me. Still is!
Offers to babysit Rose were warmly welcomed.
Newborns aren’t away from their mum very often, so if you’re comfortable, offer to take baby off mum’s hands for a little while so she can get some rest.
One of the best pieces of advice a friend gave me when I asked her what I should take to the hospital was: ‘Treat yourself to a good body wash. No matter what the labour is like, that first shower after you’ve given birth is the best of your life.’Making a plan for visitors after you have a babyHave visitors who are keen to visit your newborn? Three experts weigh in on what’s best.Read more
Now, I buy one for every mum-to-be. It might feel weirdly intimate gifting it to someone you don’t know that well, so maybe throw it in a gift basket. Trust me, it’s worth it.
The thing that hit me in the days after the birth was how everyone was fixated on the baby. The baby doesn’t need much. Mum provides all they need.
However, mums are recovering from, at best, an enormous physical experience. At worst, intense birth trauma. Anything that helps manage the pain and recovery is great for a new mum.
You won’t go wrong with little treats and self-care items, particularly chocolate. A LOT of chocolate. Go the extra mile and get a good one, and you will always be thought of fondly.
Also, keep in mind that there are two people being born. The baby and the mother.
Both have needs so, [for a mum] it’s always nice, generally, to feel that someone is looking after you while you’re immersed in your new role in caring for a baby.”
Claudia and Chris, mum and dad to one-year-old Carlotta:
“Food. For us! Prepared food and surprise deliveries were the best.
The first few days and weeks after Carlotta was born, everyone wanted to come around and visit. We were both so exhausted and wanted to spend all our time with her, so not having to worry about what’s for lunch and dinner was such a relief.
Also, nappies were great! We got a lot of nappies, which was good because we didn’t anticipate how many we’d go through.”
Nicole and Cameron, mum and dad to five-month-old Isla:
“Generally, all the gifts we got we enjoyed because it was one less thing we had to pay for. Particularly the everyday things (nappies, wipes, etc.).
We were lucky because we had a lot of the big ticket baby items (pram, cot, car seats, etc.) covered, thanks to close family who had recently had kids and no longer needed them.
We really enjoyed gifts that meant more than the item itself.
Two of our friends bought Isla teddy bears. Teddy bears don’t really help with anything, but the sentiment meant a lot coming from them because we knew that they both had NO IDEA about what to get, yet they tried anyway. It was funny, and it represented how much they cared in wishing her the best, which was sweet.
The worst thing we got was unsolicited parenting advice.
Even when you’re intellectually aware that the person is trying to help, it’s always uncomfortable when people give you unsolicited parenting advice.”
Lisa and Michael, mum and dad to two-year-old Evelyn:
“It would have been great if someone could have hired a cleaner or cleaned my house. Even something as small as doing a load of laundry would have helped a lot. A helping hand in general was always appreciated.
I’ll tell you what I wish we didn’t get… Someone gifted us this baby chair thing which was useless because Evie’s legs were too fat to fit in. I don’t think you should get that kind of stuff if you don’t know what you’re doing. It won’t be used, and you’ll have wasted your money.
We didn’t need baby clothes either. Everyday items such as nappies and baby wipes were much more useful.”
What I’ve learnt: The baby doesn’t need a present… but mum and dad do
From what I’ve gathered, part of the whole experience for a new parent is to go out and buy all that baby stuff.
In hindsight, it would’ve been much better to focus on the mum and dad, and how to make their life a little easier while they’re getting their head around this ‘parenting’ thing.
Instead, I got caught up in thinking about the baby.
You might be thinking, ‘Duh’. But hey, it’s not like there are books for friends of new parents. I genuinely thought, ‘They’re having a baby, I’ve got to get something… for the baby’.
It seems silly to say now, and retrospectively it’s kind of obvious, but you live and you learn. I hope this helps.