I've seen tons and I mean TONS of pregnancy announcements lately, and lots of first time mamas. This is so exciting! Being pregnant is such a great experience...it's challenging, nauseating, stressful, exhausting and different for every person. I've talked before about my pregnancy challenges, and how thankful I am that those days are behind me now. Today I want to talk about being a guest at a baby shower.
Listen up, ladies.
Golden Rule of Baby Shower Shopping: When shopping for a baby shower gift, think like this: for every one cute thing I buy, I must buy 2 practical things.
For example, yes that pink ruffly sun dress with matching sandals is adorbs, but if you buy it, pair it with a pack of wipes and a large bottle of baby wash. That snuggly soft blanket with embroidered football? Totally cute and would make for great pictures...but toss in a pack of size 2 diapers and a pack of 6-9 month plain onesies.
The cute stuff babies get is overwhelming to new mom. I remember standing in my living room surrounded by mountains of gifts. I was so grateful. SO thankful that everyone had taken the time and money to give us great gifts but honestly, I had no idea what I was doing with any of it. I broke down in tears, as I did about every 15 minutes when I was 8 months pregnant,
Between Rory and Trace, I was gifted (at a minimum) 30 blankets. I ended up donating a bunch to the local city mission for moms in need. I didn't have room for 30 baby blankets and wanted to make sure they got put to good use, not just sat in the back of a closet. They were great blankets, but just an excess.
The same goes for clothes in tiny sizes. I had so many 0-3 months clothes flood my door after Rory was born. They were GORGEOUS and so thoughtful...except Rory was born weighing almost 10 pounds. She was in 0-3 months for about 4 weeks. Little chunky monkey, that one. ;) Again, I ended up donating brand new, expensive outfits with tags attached to the city mission. They went to a great cause but still, I felt guilty for not being able to put her in every outfit people took time and money to send to us.
Because I had kids in such rapid succession, I consider myself a veritable expert in baby gifts. I already told you my golden rule (remember, 1 cute, 2 practical.) Here are my other rules...
Think about the time of year a baby will be born, not when the shower is. Babies born in November require different gear than June babies. November babies could use a nice warm hat (if you knit or crochet it yourself, you are officially a rockstar) and lots of socks. Even a pair of boots! June babies on the other hand need swim diapers, a swim towel, a nice sun hat...all practical and still fun to shop for.
Want to really be helpful? Buy things in a size or two up. I remember one of my dance moms who has two kids sending me a present and everything in it was size 6-9 months. She fast forwarded her shopping and sent clothes for Rory to wear when she was a little older. It was awesome.
Same goes for diapers! My kids were both almost 10 pounds and never wore newborn sized diapers. They started life in size 1. Now when I go to baby showers, I make sure to buy size 2 or 3 diapers and attatch a gift receipt right to the pack. Wal-Mart and Target will let you exchange diapers, because certain brands work better for certain baby's bottoms. (Rory was a Huggies girl, Trace can only wear Pampers Cruisers, all the other brands give him a rash!)
Things to avoid buying:
-Shoes. Super cute but super impractical. It's too hard to shove a little sausage foot in a shoe. Good alternative: cute socks, warm sock for cold weather, etc
-Expensive books. There are lots of gorgeous picture books out there, with intricate illustrations and high price tags. Please remember you are giving these books to a baby, who will eventually become a destructive toddler. Board books are great, inexpensive picture books and lots of them are the best. That way a tired mom won't have to feel bad when her daughter finds a Sharpie and draws all over every page...not that that's ever happened here.... ;)
-Noisy toys. Please just don't. A little music or a few sounds, great. Screaming toys that light up 92 colors and make you want to toss them across Wal Mart before you even leave? No fun for anyone. Especially when they go off in the middle of the night...!
-Anything breakable. I mean, not that my children have ever picked up the ceramic cross gifted to them before they were born and tried to play basketball with it...I'm just saying it could happen!
Suggestions on practical things to buy:
-Baby shampoo and body wash. A hair washer water pour-er thingy. (Technical name) Soft, hooded towels, wash clothes, loofa. (No bubble bath, please. It irritates little bottoms!) Wrap it all up in a fun bin or basket that can be used to store books or toys, even towels in the bathroom.
-Onesies, socks, hats, mits for newborns (so they can't scratch themelves), a comb/brush, nail clippers...all that good practical stuff
-Wipes and Diapers, Massive quantities.
-Gift cards for stores and restaurants...a cleaning service gift card would be the holy grail of gifts.
-Gift card for the sitting fee at a photo studio!
-Winter babies could use a car seat blanket cover thingy
-Summer babies could use a sun tent shade maker thingy. (Don't you love my technical terms?! :))
-Baby laundry soap (unscented), laundry basket. So practical. So useful.
No matter what gift you give or send, please include in your card something like this: Dear Mama-to-be, I know how tired you are, how stressed you are and more importantly how thankful you are. There's no need to send me a thank you note. I know you have 9,000 other things to think about. Rest assured I know how thankful you are. Save your time and stamp for another day!
What's the best baby gift you've ever recieved? What's the best you've ever given?