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Necessities for Baby’s First Year: The Baby-Gift-a-Month Club

Jan29

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Two years ago, I packed my life in two bags and left for London. Living here has been wonderful, I have an amazing job, and being alone in a strange country has done wonders to my marriage. However, all this time, I have not been able to go back to visit, and needless to say, I have missed lots of key moments with my friends –you know, weddings, divorces, house moves, birthdays etc.
I finally have the opportunity to go back at the beginning of March, and I am delighted because my best friend is pregnant and I will finally get to be there at least to touch her belly and let her have a good moan about being all pregnant etc. But I am also sad because, man I will be missing out on the real thing, the real actual having a baby, and being tired and grumpy and amazed and marveled at the same time, and I won’t be able to be there and offer to hold him while she showers or do her laundry or something more useful perhaps. I will miss out on everything she goes through because who has time for emails when you have a newborn?
So anyway, to make the story short, and not waste any more of your preious time, I figure the only thing I can really do is give her a gift that will help her out a lot, and that she uses every day, so that I can at least contribute with this incredible experience in a tiny way, if any. I also want to get her something for HER, because I imagine everything suddenly becomes about the baby, and I want her to have something that makes her feel pampered, or as nice as possible when you are 8 months pregnant.
I remember you once mentioned how when you are pregnant you buy a bunch of stuff, and people give you a bunch of stuff, but its is not really what you end up using. And how if you had the chance you could tell us all what to buy because PEOPLE you don’t really need all those onesies –I think?
So maybe you could let us all non moms know what is really a good gift to give a pregnant woman, and her newborn, so that we can stop standing at the maternity shops looking at onsies with dumfounded mouths.
Thank you very much!
Dynamitaa

This seems like a question I should really have an answer for, doesn’t it? I mean, having HAD a baby already and all. And yet when I think back to those fuzzy early days, I cannot think of ONE amazing straight-from-heaven item that stands out in the way you describe.
Well, I mean, I can. It would probably be those stacks of cloth diapers we used as burp rags. And maybe the extra Babies R Us gift cards that allowed us to rush to the store two days after coming home to buy more diapers and a swing because we only registered for a bouncy seat because all our friends said swings were a waste of money and the bouncy seats were the way to go and GUESS WHO HATED HIS BOUNCY SEAT?
But…then he did like the bouncy seat later on, and stopped spitting up so much, and like a lot of couples we realized we completely over-registered for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it newborn stage and were now the parents of a six-month-old who wore 12-month clothing and needed an exersaucer. One baby LOVES tummy time and another one NEEDS his white noise machine and another baby hates both of those things with a white-hot passion.
And registries! Oh, people don’t even know what they’re registering for. You pick out a stroller that worked great on the linoleum floors of the store but sucks on sidewalks or is actually a LOT heavier when you’re trying to load it into the back of your car after your emergency c-section. You scan some bottles that end up giving your baby gas, the wrong kind of pacifier and you know what? Life goes on and you figure it all out. You’re going to get too many blankets and too many bibs and four copies of Guess How Much I Love You and we still have five unopened bottles of various baby shampoos and washes in the bathroom.
All of this is not meant to discourage you, but to lead me to my somewhat off-the-wall suggestion: Instead of getting her ONE BIG PERFECT GIFT OF GIFTS, why not pledge to give her a whole year of small but honest-to-God useful gifts? Or six months, even? The stuff she maybe didn’t register for but ends up buying for herself later out of necessity?
I had one friend who regularly bought me much, MUCH bigger clothing than Noah was currently wearing — she’d just pick it up on sale whenever — and I would toss it all in an extra drawer for later. And let me tell you, there is nothing better than realizing that THANK GOD you have the next size up in onesies, because your seven-month-old just grew three inches overnight and I am not exaggerating.
SO if I had someone lovely to send me a tiny but unflappably useful care package every month (or even every other month), this is what my 12 Months of Baby Gifts dream list would look like:
Pre-baby: an Aimee nursing gown (if she plans to breastfeed) or some really impossibly soft lounging clothes. Depending on how far along she is, one of those big pregnancy pillows are also super-nice.
Immediately post-baby: a Target/BabiesRUs/Wherever gift card wrapped up in a stack of cloth diapers, and (again, if she’s nursing) some Soothies Pads.
51OpnKNlpKL._AA280_.jpgTwo months old: Time to venture outside! Some 3-6 month sized hats or some Sassy Diaper Sacks for poops outside of Diaper Genie territory. A diaper clutch, while more expensive, is also awesome.
Three months old: If she’s going back to work, some extra milk containers or picture frames for her desk. If she’s staying home, MORE BURP RAGS. Or a mommy-and-baby exercise DVD.
Four months old: The next size up in clothes! If it’s winter, outerwear should be particularly appreciated.
Five months old: Teething rings. Gnawing rings. Stuff to gum and chew on.
Six months old: How about replacing all those &$#(@ socks that have been lost in the dryer? Or since crawling may be imminent, some BabyLegs or soft-soled booties.
Seven months old: This wouldn’t be an Amalah-approved column without a suggestion of a Baby Signing Time DVD, now would it?
Eight months old: You know what is effing expensive? Baby food. Send a Gerber gift basket of purees and teething biscuits and fruit puffs.
Nine months old: 12-month clothing. Oh yes.
31C7EmAuq5L._AA280_.jpg10 months old: Baby-proofing hell, man. Send a first-aid kit: kiddie BandAids, a cute little ice pack, disinfectant, etc. (Noah still requests his boo-boo bear ice pack whenever he bonks.) (It’s actually a dog, but that’s our bad, we’re dumb.)
11 months old: We’re one month away from no more bottles, so a couple different styles of sippy cups (stage one) will be great to have on hand.
12 months old: Happy birthday! Screw all this useful stuff and send the kid some TOYS! Fun toys! Toys that take batteries and speak in four languages and don’t shut off automatically! HA HA!
This all may sound so dumb, but honestly, once the shower has come and gone and that newborn-sized designer cashmere jumper has been boxed up in storage, this is the best way to really BE THERE for your friend, every step of the way. Just a little something in the mail each month (and most of this stuff can be sent via Amazon, just to make it easier with the shipping), to let her know that you wish you were there to help.
If you give her a pre-baby gift, you could easily include a card or mock-certificate that tells her about your plan, or just surprise her.

You may also enjoy….
Skipping the Baby Registry: Yay or Nay?
Because Pregnancy Makes You Crazy, Period
Organic Baby video
It’s a Boy! video
Enough Plastic Already! video

Visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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27 Responses to “Necessities for Baby’s First Year: The Baby-Gift-a-Month Club”

  1. tiaisha Jan 30 at 10:39 am Reply Reply

    I’m a big fan of those super useful gifts that few people think of. I had a supervisor give a set of gas cards for one of those chain gas stations and they were a godsend for those frantic moments when the baby had finally stopped screaming and had JUST fallen asleep right around the time my gas light came on and I was faced with the “Do I take the baby out of the car to prepay/can I make it home on fumes” dilemma. I believe they can be ordered via the web and mailed to the recipient too.

  2. Jamie AZ Jan 30 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    That’s a great 12-month list!

  3. JennyM Jan 30 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    This is a *terrific* post, and has given me (another childless and clueless yet wanting to be truly helpful person) some great ideas. We’re at that age where it seems like babies are starting to drop out of the sky. I’ve always tried to resist the urge to go for the twee and stick to the useful, and this is great. Thanks!

  4. Maria Jan 30 at 11:30 am Reply Reply

    Here’s what I got that I loved:
    *giftcards, for grocery stores, starbucks, target, Trader Joe’s. It was free money to splurge for myself or buy diapers or pre-prepared dinners.
    *cleaning service. My in-laws hired a cleaning service to come every other week to help with scrubbing.
    *babysitting. If you can’t be there in person, tell your friend that you’ll pay the babysitter so she can go out once a month or so, and throw in a gift certificate to a movie theater or a spa, or whatever treat she’d like so she can feel like herself.
    *easy, healthy snacks. My sons both nursed every two hours round the clock for months, so anything I could grab and eat one handed was great. I was a big fan of veggie and fruit trays, granola bars, cheese sticks. Perhaps you could pay for grocery delivery?
    Like anyone else, I love the tiny little baby clothes, but I never buy them as gifts. I give the stuff that seems boring at a shower, but really comes in handy once the baby’s born.

  5. Marlespo Jan 30 at 11:32 am Reply Reply

    instead of baby food, ho about giving her a babyfood cookbook since it is so much cheaper than jars, and yummier.
    also, perhaps throwing a gift card i ther for target?
    and… thank you notes. you always need one, especially when getting gifts, and giving thank you ntoes makes i a lot oeasier for her.

  6. Elizabeth Jan 30 at 11:33 am Reply Reply

    This is a good list. I’m in the middle of planning a shower for a friend, and talking with my dad yesterday I noted that there are three categories of presents/givers: family members and friends who are older than you and buy something from the registry or cute, normal baby clothes; friends who don’t have kids yet, who buy you ridiculously cute baby things, like fluffy pink jackets, or dupioni baby dresses, which are quite cute and you wouldn’t buy yourself but are kind of fun to have; and friends who have recently had kids who buy you things like lansinoh and blankets that are actually big enough to do a decent swaddle with. I loved all the different categories of presents.
    Your friend may actually have time for emails. Email her. If she doesn’t respond right away, don’t be offended. A lot of my friends without kids sort of dropped out of the picture for a while. They figured I was busy with the baby and wouldn’t have time to respond, and it left me feeling really isolated.

  7. Kim Jan 30 at 11:39 am Reply Reply

    This is seriously one of the most useful posts ever (and I’ve taken almost all of your hair, skincare and make up advice). I could not agree more. The little useful things as time goes by are some of the best gifts ever. My mother in law and mom were both great about sending little things along the way, especially clothes. Totally helpful. My MIL never came over without a package of diapers or a can of formula in hand. What a life saver!!

  8. Great list. The one thing I could not possibly live without is my Kangaroo Korner baby sling (not affiliated, etc. http://www.kangarookorner.com). I literally use it every day, and my baby is 10 months old. I have an adjustable pouch, and after having tried 8 bazillion slings, pouches, and carriers, I can tell you that the adjustable pouch is the easiest, quickest, and most awesome one. They are about $70 with shipping, and worth every single penny.

  9. Marnie Jan 30 at 11:54 am Reply Reply

    I agree, great list!
    One thing that my SIL did for me (b/c someone did it for her b/c someone else had done it for them…) … She got a ginormous gift bag and filled it to the brim with feeding stuff: a set of various size bottles, those ubiquitous Gerber spoons with the ends that change color, bowls, plates, more spoons, a couple bibs, snack cups, sippy cups, a sports cup (with a straw), and a one of the character sets (Pooh) with plate, bowl, sippy cup, and chubby little spoon and fork.
    It was one of the most fabulous things I got. I didn’t use any of it for the first few months. But, one day I realized, crap, I have to go back to work in 4 weeks and I need to start introducing a bottle and I have no idea what bottles to buy… LOOK! I have bottles sitting right there in the closet, so I don’t have to run out to buy any!
    A few months later, I realized she was ready to try “solid” food, and what the heck all do I need to start giving her cereal? PRESTO! I only have to buy the rice cereal because I have all this STUFF!
    My daughter didn’t love all of it – we wound up mixing Johnson nipples with Platex bottles (blasphemy, I’m sure, but it worked). The fat plastic spoons didn’t work for me. BUT, I had it all on hand exactly when I needed it and it gave me at least SOMETHING to work with.
    Thanks for all the other great ideas!

  10. koz Jan 30 at 11:58 am Reply Reply

    Although I love all things Amalah, I have to disagree on the toys. Baaahhh!! If my eight-month-old gets one more toy (and oh, she will), I will scream!
    It can’t be said enough: GIFT CARDS. Preferably Target. We don’t have a BRU convenient, and their prices are often not competitive. Plus, you’re at Target already anyway.
    And tune in to what she wants to do with the baby. For example, we really wanted to do infant/parent swimming. But nobody really caught my hints. Or didn’t care. LOL. So, we signed up for a free three-month class, which is just about to end, and we can’t afford to continue. So maybe she’ll want MyGym or music or something else, but pay attention!

  11. Meghan Jan 30 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    When going to a shower I usually make up an “emergency” kit with all the stuff you need in the middle of the night and don’t have on hand. I include: Thermometers – rectal & the pacifier kind are usually the most helpful for the first months. Infant & children’s Motrin and Tylenol. (To alternate with when a fever pops up.) Disposable ice pack – even if you have the boo bear sometimes it’s been left out of the freezer and you need something NOW. A bottle of Pedialyte. Airbourne (for mom & dad) as well as a pump of Purell and a re-sealable pack of Wet Ones to help stop germs before they do their damage. Just walk through your pharmacy section and you’ll remember anything I left off of this list.
    I love the idea of sending a package a month, your suggestions are great Amy!

  12. ethansmomma Jan 30 at 12:27 pm Reply Reply

    Ok. I agree with the always wise Amalah on the year round gifts. Especially the clothes in 1 or 2 sizes up. However in keeping with the theme of being there without really being there I will tell you my two lifesaver, second pair of hands, thank you God gifts I received. The 1st was a swing. Dear God, I did not get one till Bear was 3 months old and I should have wheeled one into the hospital with me to take him home in. That magical device allowed me to get him to sleep at 3am, take a shower, check blogs, and all kinds of wonderful things that having another set of hands could do. My second amazing gift was that my mother found a local housekeeping service and paid for 6 months of cleanings. They came every 2 weeks and scrub toilets, change bedsheets, mop the floors, etc. All the heavy cleaning that one who is covered in spit up and recovering from a c-section should not have to endure. The third runner up was my pack in play. I used the bassinet part to change him and for him to sleep on in the living room while I took care of things like dinner. When he got bigger it became a safe place to put him while I unloaded the dishwasher with out him crawling away. He is a year old and we now use it just as a place for him to sleep while we travel but it has been wonderful.

  13. hanskey Jan 30 at 12:30 pm Reply Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of baby clothes in bigger sizes (season-appropriate of course). Also, diapers in bigger sizes are great, too. If there is a storage issue it might not be great, but I can’t believe how early my 8-month old got into size 3 diapers, and how many left-over size 1-2s we have.
    You can have baby food shipped from Earth’s Best’s website, or Healthy Times. My baby has loved all of their flavor combinations. He’s also a Gerber Puff-a-holic.
    Also, books, books, books! Give the classics, favorites from your childhood, and any new/fun/quirky ones you can find. Little chunky books are great for teething, too. And for holding my little one’s attention when I’m changing a diaper or clothes. He can entertain himself, and it doesn’t take 20 minutes to do the job!

  14. linda Jan 30 at 12:35 pm Reply Reply

    the idea – inspired! the list – very helpful.

  15. koz Jan 30 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    OK, one last thing…
    Keep in mind the size of the parents when you buy clothes in bigger sizes. I mean, we all should’ve guessed that my daughter wouldn’t be wearing 12 month clothes in summer (12 months after she was born) given the fact that both of her parents are gigantic.
    Same with diapers. She was in size three by six months.
    Big parents? Good chance of big baby. Buy big! Same with small, I’m guessing?

  16. Erin Jan 30 at 1:11 pm Reply Reply

    I think the very best gift you could give her would be a house cleaning service for a week, a month, a whatever . . . That is one thing that would make such a difference in her day to day life without being clothes, toys, etc for the baby!
    erin

  17. kristi Jan 30 at 1:34 pm Reply Reply

    I second (or third, or forth, or whatever) the suggestions for a cleaning service. My MIL had one come and do a head-to-toe cleaning when I was 9 months pregnant. By that time I couldn’t touch my toes, let alone scrub the tub or clean the baseboards.
    I also want to recommend buying tons of frozen homemade dinners (made yourself or bought from those fancy gourmet places). There is NOTHING better for a new mom than to be able to pop a dinner in the oven and eat a REAL, substantial meal after living on crackers and whatever-can-be-microwaved-quick for the first few weeks after childbirth.

  18. Dani Jan 30 at 2:26 pm Reply Reply

    Also, don’t buy into the old stereotypes like “you can never have too many onesies” and “you can never have too many receiving blankets” because, you know what? Yes you can! I received more of both than I can begin to count and we had very little use for *either*! My daughter hated being swaddled, so the receiving blankets quickly became useless. We don’t layer her clothes, so the onesies because useless quickly, too. I prefer the one pieces that have sleeves and pant legs, not something I have to pair with two other pieces of clothing to adequately cover her and keep her warm.
    Don’t buy newborn sized clothing. Please don’t. Everyone and their brother was drawn to the cute, tiny clothes and my daughter was in them for a very short time period. And she rarely left the house, so layettes were more convenient than actual clothes. Friends have had babies born too large for newborn clothing at all, so they never wore it. Any of it.
    Gift receipts. Please, please, please – always give gift receipts. And please don’t be offended if what you’ve given ends up going back. I had someone give me a wipe warmer, something I felt utterly impractical, and I exchanged it for bottles. Or diapers. Or wipes. Or formula.
    If you buy diapers for someone which, for the record, I really loved when people did that, buy larger sizes. Don’t buy newborn. If you’re expecting a baby, buy yourself a pack of NB diapers and a pack of the next size up then wait to see what size your child needs before fully stocking up. You just never know.
    I have a baby supply graveyard in my basement and my daughter’s only 9 months old. There’s a bouncy seat, a table top swing, a Bumbo, a Boppy, a baby bathtub. The exersaucer’s still in my living room but she’s too mobile and impatient to sit in it, so it serves as a place to toss all of her toys at night so that I don’t step on them later.

  19. bethany actually Jan 30 at 3:50 pm Reply Reply

    Reading through Amalah’s list and all the comments, I am laughing because we rarely if ever used cloth diapers for anything (our daughter didn’t spit up much); we dressed our daughter in ONLY onesies about 80% of the time (we lived in Phoenix); she was born a month early and stayed small enough that she was wearing newborn-sized clothes till she was 5 or 6 months old, and some outfits she received as a newborn still fit her when she was 1 year old; and she HATED swings. I think what it comes down to is, every baby’s needs are going to be different. Listen to what the mom tells you about her baby, and then make your best guesses. Your efforts WILL be appreciated, especially if you thrown an occasional gift card for Target or restaurant or night of baby-sitting into the mix.

  20. missbritt Jan 30 at 4:48 pm Reply Reply

    The best shower I had was where everyone brought diapers. I didn’t buy a single pack of diapers with my first son. We got them in ALL sizes.
    Of course, I didn’t realize just how valuable that was until I had my daughter and found out just how ungodly expensive those things are!

  21. Dynamita Jan 30 at 5:40 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you so much for answering my question! What a good idea to send her a care pack throughout the year! Receiving parcels is a wonderful thing, AND I get to show her that I´m there for her. Cool. Thank you everybody else for your suggestions.

  22. imagine community Jan 30 at 9:01 pm Reply Reply

    That’s a GREAT list. A couple of additions of my favorites:
    1. if she’s nursing, Lansinoh lanolin cream for sore nipples.
    2. Burt’s Bees diaper rash cream. The best. And you can’t really end up with too much of the stuff, as it keeps coming in handy all the way through toilet training.
    3. I LOVED the MamaCoat an old girlfriend of hubby’s (yes!) loaned me for the pregnancy and baby’s first year. It’s made by a company called Japanese Weekend and has an extra panel that zips in front between the zipper. It fits over the pregnant belly, and THEN it fits over the baby inside a front carrier — and since it can zip all the way up, or down a little, on either side of the baby’s head, you get don’t worry about suffocating the baby and you get a lot of control with cold.

  23. KatieMick Jan 31 at 9:56 am Reply Reply

    Also something to keep in mind is if there is a sibling, it’s a good idea to give them a little something, too. Kids get jealous of the things, and the attention, that a new baby brings, since before that they had most (if not all) of it. I just gave a baby shower gift of a Target gift card for the mom-to-be (didn’t want her schlepping bulky stuff on the subway home from work) and a little pink sequined purse for the impending big sister. She loved it, and it helps makes then feel not so left out.

  24. Susan Jan 31 at 3:20 pm Reply Reply

    What a great idea Amy! I had my second baby a few months ago and would have loved that.
    Another item to consider adding would be a nursing cover. I treated myself to a bebe au lait (bebeaulait.com) with my second and it was some of the best money I spent. I used it all the time and have given it at three showers since then. If you’re not good at using a blanket to cover up (which I was hopeless at), it makes life so much easier.

  25. Kimmy Feb 01 at 2:13 pm Reply Reply

    What a nice treat… I missed this post earlier in the week. Two! Posts!
    Here’s a totally non-baby related suggestion: since you’re sort of worried that you’re going to miss out on “being there” for your friend… why not buy her a webcam and the appropriate software? That way, you can have a face-to-face date with her once a week… once a day, even. You’ll feel a lot more like you’re actually there. And with that, too, she doesn’t need to use her hands (like she would when writing an email) so she could be holding the baby or feeding her or whatever else while chatting with you.
    Hope that helps!

  26. Hollis Feb 01 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    I have a seven month-old boy, and there have been four gifts that have really cut through the exhausted, overwhelmed brain-clutter. These are all pretty big gifts, so it might not work to do more than one.
    1) 4 weeks pre-baby and 6 weeks post-baby, massages.
    2) At 3 months, my mother offered to buy me the carrier of my choice. My baby was enormous and she felt sorry for me. The Bjorn was killing my shoulders at that point, and we had a sling that we couldn’t get the hang of, so I chose an Ergo. He’s 26 pounds now and we’re still using it, on the front or back.
    3) At 6 months, my husband got me a little make-up kit from Chantecaille. Mascara, blush, eyeliner, lip gloss, in a little case. I don’t usually wear much make-up, and I had more or less lost track of my own face since giving birth. It’s just really nice stuff, kind of miniature, and oddly easy to use. Not only was it a kind of touching gift, I actually use it now, and it’s some of the nicest make-up I’ve ever owned.
    4) Most recently: a gift certificate to a nice restaurant, the kind where babies are not really welcome.

  27. Jen Feb 12 at 12:37 am Reply Reply

    Love the idea of monthly gifts – Amalah’s list is right on the money!
    Along the same topic, my friend just had a baby, and I found an on-line company called Toy-A-Month Club that sent her age appropriate baby toys each month. They also included monthly milestones and baby activity cards. My friend loved it, and said the toys were timed perfectly!

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