The shower is long past. The baby is here. The parents have made noises about “Don’t worry about us, just get stuff for the kid.” You’re not sure whether to believe them.
You can deftly navigate these waters by remembering the adage that happy parents make happy babies. After all, Grandma will load the little one up with Baby Einstein and stuffies, and she doesn’t wait for the holidays. You can’t compete in that vein anyway. Instead, go for some of the gifts below, which, while on the baby theme, mostly make life easier, happier, and/or more comfortable for the parents themselves.
Flickr Pro Account For The Parents
A pro account on Flickr. With a pro account, the parents get unlimited storage and 2 GB a month of uploading bandwidth for pictures of their darling. And since Flickr is a photo-sharing site, not a photo selling site, the photos aren’t going be deleted if they don’t order prints every year. This is also a gift for the parents’ friends and family: They can keep up-to-date however and whenever they like without having to become a member of the site, having their invitation link expire, or being pestered to buy things. And it just might cut down on the e-mail messages you receive, full of humongous attached files. If you want something physical to pair this gift with, go for a super-huge digital-camera flash card.
Nursing tops. Sure, a mother doesn’t need a specially designed shirt in order to breastfeed. But if she wants to wear a one-piece dress, or keep her midriff warm in winter, or just have something that requires less bunching of fabric, actual nursingwear is a real bonus, especially something fun and stylish.
Other Than That We Can Add
Of course no child lives on milk alone forever. That six-month mark can sneak up on parents. They probably have thought of spoons and bowls and a high chair, but you can add:
Long-sleeved eating smocks. Bibs are for dribbles. Drool. Maybe spit-up. But anyone who’s seen a baby start to eat food knows that a regular bib is a laughable defense. Long-sleeved smocks, open in the back, are more what’s called for. Easy to wipe down, and providing serious coverage, they are a boon to parents already creaking under the laundry load.
Snack Trap. A brilliant bit of engineering went into the very simple Snack Trap. It’s a cup with a lid that is made of several soft-edged flaps. It’s easy for kids to stick their hands through to fish out Cheerios (or organic kamut puffs, or Doritos), but if turned upside down, it won’t pour said foodstuffs all over the floor. (Parents who’ve used them tell me a few pieces will escape—but that’s still quite an improvement.)
A good food processor with a mini chopping bowl. The right tools, including single-serve freezer cubes and a baby-food mill, make whipping up some homemade baby food a million times easier. But a good food processor makes it onto this list in particular because it also makes whipping up some nutritious and fun meals for the parents quicker and easier.
A copy of Itsy Bitsy Yoga. Unless you’re the evangelical type, it can be wise to steer clear of giving parents books on parenting that will weigh in on any of vast array of matters of dispute. If they want more input, they’ll ask. But Itsy Bitsy Yoga adds rather than argues. Written by a yoga instructor who taught parent-and-baby yoga classes, it offers a series of “poses,” separated by developmental stage (newborn, head-holders, almost sitting, almost crawling), that promise to help babies sleep, digest and develop better. It’s fun and easy, and sometimes can calm a screaming fit when nothing else would.
Diapers. These are only for certain new parents: the ones agonizing over their diaper choices, whether struggling with cloth or consumed with guilt over disposables, but either way not quite comfortable with the alternative. As long as they don’t have old, partially clogged pipes, a gift of a gDiaper starter pack—flushable, bio degradable liners in washable covers—could be just the ticket to resolve their angst.
Stroller handle extenders. Like so many other products, strollers are designed to fit a very small range of “normal” size. So when parents are possessed of a large height difference, or even just when at least one is quite tall, pushing the stroller either falls unequally on the shorter one or causes tall achy backs. Make dad do his share—or at least give his back a break—with some stroller-handle extenders.
Ergo. Baby-wearing is wonderful, and there are a zillion different slings, wraps, and other contraptions. Each parent will have different preferences, often varying by situation. But if you know a parent who is having trouble with tense, sore shoulders from baby-carrying, consider giving them an Ergo, so named for a design that distributes weight nicely down to the hips and across the chest.
A thread-ripper and some stickers. Let’s put it this way: No one wants to end up staring at dire warnings of suffocation and strangulation long enough that they know that the Spanish version on the Pack ’N Play and the French version on the crib have typos in them. (Who, me?) Offer a fight-back pack of a thread ripper and some strong-adhesive colorful stickers to cover the tougher ironed- or printed-on warnings.
Backtalk. Nothing helps sleep deprivation like a little attitude. Give the kid—or the parents—some clothes that go beyond cute and sweet. For example: Gabbybaby onesies that say things like “I’m not staring at you, I’m pooping.” and “Please don’t ask my daddy if he’s ‘babysitting.’” or Moms Rising’s (adult) T-shirt with Rosie the Riveter lifting a baby on her muscled arm.