Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Great gifts for a new mom and baby

When we had our baby, our very generous friends and family gave us lots of gifts. Here were some of my favorite gifts you can try for the new moms on your list:

Alternatives to flowers
While flowers are very beautiful, the sheer amount of flowers you receive after having a baby is overwhelming. Here are some alternatives:
  • Shari's Berries- Imagine my complete delight when a box of large chocolate-dipped strawberries arrived at my doorstep! Uh-my-gawd! Total heaven.
  • Fruit Basket - there are many places that you can order online, or go to your local grocery store and create your own. With the baby up at all hours, I found myself snacking rather than eating big meals and craving healthy foods!
  • Gift basket - I love wine country gift baskets!
Meal Delivery
I had a bunch of help from family for the first 4 weeks after the birth, but the very next week, I was faced with being by myself with the baby (and a husband on a business trip!). I got a gift certificate for nearly a weeks-worth of meals. I ordered online and they were delivered right to my door. These meals were a godsend! (If you are in the Seattle area, try Dancing Women Meals - Mostly organic, and with special menu options for nursing moms. Very tasty and healthy.)

If there's no delivery service in your area, and you have the time, you could prepare meals yourself and freeze them. Separate the meals in individual portions (or 1-2 servings) before freezing. As a new mom, I didn't have time for big meals. I ended up eating several smaller portions throughout the day.

Another friend went shopping at Trader Joes and got us a whole bunch of their prepared meals and prepared salads. (A whole 'nother post is needed about how fabulous is Trader Joes!)

People gave us the cutest outfits for HB! If you are giving clothes, here are some tips:

1) If possible include a gift receipt with your gift. Inevitably, the new baby will end up with too many of one thing and not enough of another. Give the new mom the option of exchanging the gift for something they will get more use of. We actually got several copies of the same sleeper (really cute, but how many did we need?) It would have been nice to exchange one of them for something else.

2) For girls - avoid pink! For boys - avoid blue! Everyone else gives these colors and the whole wardrobe becomes the same color. Add much-needed variety to the new baby's wardrobe by choosing another color.

3) Avoid the 0-3 month (or newborn) size. Everyone else gives this size. My baby was out of this size by 1.5 months, and I didn't have the time or energy at this point to go out shopping for clothes in the new size. Give the new mom a break by buying in the 3-6 month size. Better yet -- if you are giving several outfits, choose a variety of sizes.

4) Make sure the clothes are season-appropriate for the baby. If the baby is born in the summer, don't get a winter coat in the 0-3 month size. She will outgrow it before the season changes. Think ahead to how old the baby will be in the given season, and buy appropriately.

Of course, following rule #1 (the gift receipt) compensates for any mistakes you make in rules 2-4.

Registry items
Ask if the new mom is registered anywhere. We got a bunch of gifts off our registry and it was exactly what we wanted (go figure!).

Baby books
"Good Night Moon", Dr. Seuss, and those soft squishy books are great! It's never too early to read to babies, so get them started early!

A book of baby advice - (for the first time mom)
My colleagues at work threw a baby shower for me and compiled a book of baby advice printed up on decorative cards and placed in a small photo album. (Maybe someday I'll scan them in and post them, because it's a treasure trove!). Since I was new to the city, most of the advice was city-specific, like where to find sick-child drop-in daycare, good parks to take your kids, good area mom's groups, etc. But there was also some location-independent advice, like parenting advice, and good websites or products to try.

Take a look at my newborn gear list. Any of these items would make great gifts. The toys are especially good options.

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