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5 Actually Useful Baby Gifts You Should Be Giving New Parents

Photograph by Twenty20

As someone with a bunch of my own children, and being at that stage where all my friends are having babies right and left, I've been to more than a few baby showers in the last decade. Thanks to all this showering, I can confidently say I've learned a thing or two about the best gifts to give new parents—and no, it's not more onesies.

The best gifts to give are the one they'll actually use but hadn't thought of for themselves. Luckily, I’ve been given a handful of unconventional baby gifts that are now my go-to when spoiling a mom-to-be. Here are my five favorites.

1. Paper products

My favorite gift to give is a big supply of paper products. Yep, you heard right: paper products. Plates, bowls, cups, a box of utensils and, if I’m feeling fancy, I throw in a package of cute napkins and straws. I know this isn’t the most environmentally friendly or glamorous present, but giving sleep-deprived parents the sweet gift of no dishes for the first few weeks is a goldmine!

2. Friend pedicure

For my first baby, a good friend of mine gave me a gift card for a pedicure. It was to be used before or after the baby arrived, but there were specific instructions that she wanted to come with me! I used it a couple of weeks before my baby was born, and it was so fun and relaxing to get my swollen feet rubbed down while in fantastic company. Plus, I loved that my toenails were looking better than ever when I delivered and I didn’t have to struggle with breathing to paint them on my own.

This gift is way better than another pair of baby pajamas.

3. Random babysitting

I feel like we're all guilty of saying the phrase “let me know if there is anything I can do!” but truly, hardly any of us cash in on those offers. That’s why I absolutely loved it when my friend texted me at the beginning of the week asking when she could take my two bigger kids for a few hours. This gave me a chance to have some stress-free alone time with the baby, an opportunity to catch up on things that had fallen to the wayside and, most importantly, a long nap for myself. This gift is way better than another pair of baby pajamas.

4. Hospital survival kit

When I had my first child, I thought I had completely overpacked for the hospital. I felt totally prepared, until a friend showed up with what she called a "hospital survival kit.” This brown paper bag was full of hospital goodies I didn’t think to pack, but I desperately needed. Inside the bag included:

  • A lot of snacks (both healthy and unhealthy) for those late-night feedings when I was suddenly ravenous and the hospital kitchen was no longer open.
  • Lotion that smelled delicious to help me feel lovely, refreshed and slightly human.
  • A new pair of socks to keep my feet warm when walking around my room.
  • A huge bottle of hand sanitizer that she had plastered a label on saying “Sanitize Before Snuggles.” Perfect for anyone who came to visit in the hospital.

5. A sound machine

This is 100 percent my most-used baby product. In the hospital, it helps you not be kept awake by all the nurses walking around in the hallway or the beeps of the machines or the weird sounds of your not-home. And, at home, it makes it easier for the baby sleep or for an older sibling not to be woken by a crying baby in the middle of the night. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how may of these we own (OK: five).

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