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I had an awesome baby shower. The generosity of my friends and family truly floored me, and despite the hell-ish experience that is registering for gifts (the LISTS! the OPTIONS! the RESEARCH!), we got virtually everything we asked for.
The only problem: I had no idea what it was I'd actually need.
I knew what "they" said I'd need—"they" being the baby gear gurus and well-meaning checklist-makers who I read and absorbed as absolute truth. I'd need four to six fitted sheets (check!), two to four swaddle blankets (check!), a glider (check!), a travel system (check!), a diaper bag (check!), and on and on (and on) it went. And "they" also being the older family members who thought they remembered what life was like with a new baby. (Let me tell you, those memories fade after a few decades. That, and times change. One person told me I'd need to put rice cereal in a newborn bottle, if that tells you anything.)
So allow me to be that in-the-know friend who can tell you what a new mom will actually need during those first few months. Yes, she'll need a crib, a baby carrier and all of those standard gifts, but she doesn't even know that she'll need these things, too:
1. Photographer gift certificate
There are few things more precious to a new mom than capturing those first weeks with something other than a cell phone. If you have a nice camera and some photo skills, offer to come over and snap some candid shots of the family. It'll mean way more to her than all the swaddle blankets in the world.
2. Magazine subscription
New motherhood can come with some tedious downtime, especially during feedings. Sign her up for a monthly magazine that you know she likes—and it doesn't even have to be parenting-related. It's just a little something for her.
3. Netflix subscription
Do you know what's way better than a magazine subscription? A Netflix subscription! She'll thank you during those late-night feedings when she can binge-watch "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" instead of scrolling through her phone. It'll also provide some comforting background noise during the endless days that bleed into the endless nights.
4. A monthly beauty box
Getting a package delivered is basically like Christmas.
Because it'll make her feel like a goddamn human, that's why. Every month she'll open her door and find a mysterious box with her name on it. True, she might have just cursed out the UPS man for waking up the baby, but all will be forgiven when she has a new batch of lotion, lipgloss and (be still her heart) dry shampoo.
If she doesn't dig beauty products, sign her up for some other kind of subscription service—like coffee, tea, baby products, or (YES!) snacks. When you're cooped up in the house all day, getting a package delivered is basically like Christmas.
5. A photo book gift card
Because she'll probably never make the time to print out her iPhone shots and Facebook albums, giving her a gift card to a service like Shutterfly, Picaboo or Printstagram can give her that extra oomph. Or you can be a real A+ gift-giver and make a photo book with her photos. She probably posts her favorites online, anyway.
6. Food gift certificates
Bonus points if they deliver.
7. A slow cooker
What other gift promises to gather random ingredients and magically turn them into meals? Every time she smells the waft of cooking food, she'll feel infinitely more productive with her day—and if that's not a good gift, I don't know what is.
8. Nice yoga pants
If someone were to make a New Mom Wardrobe venn diagram, yoga pants would be in the dead center. They're comfy enough for all-day lounging, and yet way more socially acceptable than those stained, torn sweats in her closet.
9. A pretty robe
She'd probably like something presentable to throw on over her nursing tank top when the unannounced visitors start knocking.
10. A good coffeemaker
If there's ever an occasion to spring for a Nespresso, now is the time.
11. A Dust Buster
When her baby starts tummy time, and then crawling, she'll be overwhelmed with the urge to make the surface as clean and crumb-free as possible.
When the nursing tracking app costs $4.99, and the sleep tracking app costs $2.99—and then there's the white noise apps, the photo editing apps and even some baby-monitoring apps, that iTunes gift card will be much appreciated.
What do you think? What are some must-have new mom gifts that aren't on any gift registry?