It’s true that new babies can be born any time of the year, but it’s fun to talk about them this time of the year when the new year is still fresh and the weather outside is gloomy. We also got a Gift Guide letter about this, so why not? File this one away for the next new baby in your life if you don’t find it to be timely. Anyway, unless you’ve actually had a newborn child of your very own, it can be kind of daunting to shop for one. It can also be one of the most difficult arenas in which to fight the gender-fair battle. There is a lot of pink and blue, and also a lot of CUTE! So be forewarned, you will need to approach your shopping with your gender-fair mantras in-hand (in-brain?). Let’s take a look at some of the options.
First, especially for showers, many parents set up a registry at a store like Babies ‘r’ Us or Amazon.com. They picked out things they need — so this isn’t a bad place to start assuming you want your gift to be useful. If the parents aren’t in the gender-fair boat yet, you may want to check out their list, and then find them a more gender-fair version of something they asked for. For example, if they requested onsies and picked out a bunch of pink for their new little girl, or a bunch of blue emblazoned with trucks for a baby boy, go ahead and get some onsies in another color and motif. You could also throw in a book or two — Pink Brain, Blue Brain or Cinderella Ate My Daughter both approach the importance of being gender-fair in a tone that is not condescending to parents who may not be there just yet.
If you don’t want to go the registry route (or even if you do, and you just want to be a little creative too), I like to give gifts with a theme. Newborns need so much stuff, that giving a bunch of random items off the list helps mom and dad, but may not be so fun for you. Assembling a gift basket with a theme like Bath Time! or Dinner Time! puts a fun twist on giving the newborn necessities that are otherwise less exciting to wrap up. Pick a motif like farm animals, zoo animals, or under the sea to tie it together.
For example, a Bath Time! basket could include:
- A baby bathtub (probably on the registry if they are using one!)
- Baby towels — these large squares with the hood are cute and functional
- Baby toiletries, including shampoo, soap, lotion, bubble bath (even I use this lavender bedtime baby bath!), and powder — all for sensitive baby skin of course! This Burt’s Bees Baby Bee sampler pack is fun.
- Bath toys — not only will these make bath time fun for baby, they will be useful into early childhood. Beware of BPA and phthalates when shopping for bath toys, since soft plastics often contain these chemicals.
Dinner Time! might include:
- Breast pump (probably a registry item, and a pricier gift so you could forgo and still make a themed basket without it)
- Bottles — glass or BPA-free plastic, 4 oz size for baby hands
- Bottle warmer — although Fair Play Supermom will be the first to tell you babies don’t require warm bottles, but most people do it anyway
- Sippy cups — again, BPA-free
- Small containers for snacks — this style allows kids to wander with their cheerios (no honey nut for infants) without spilling, while this style allows mom or dad to carry a few options along in the diaper bag
- Baby utensils — won’t be long until they need these for soft baby foods!
Story Time! might include some favorite books and a blanket or stuffed animal to cuddle up with. Sleepy Time! could include some of that bedtime bubble bath I already mentioned, a bedtime story, a stuffed animal, a cozy onsie. You get the idea. Themes are fun, and you can still give parents the practical, if less glamorous, things they need for the baby. Don’t forget mom and dad! A chocolate bar, tea, or some other token is a nice gesture.
A word about stuffed animals — many animal rescues and wildlife foundations sell stuffed animals in their online stores to benefit their organizations. This can be a great way to do double duty with your dollar. The World Wildlife Fund does this via their species adoptions. Other organizations, like the Red Panda Network, sell stuffed animals outright. Check into the organizations you support to see if this is an option before you head to a toy store for an animal.
Look for one more post in New Year, New Babies next week where we’ll talk about infant gender, whether we should talk about it, how to talk about it, and so on. As usual, leave your requests for posts in a comment, a post on our Facebook page, or over here.