My husband and I have been asked a few times since we had our kids, "What did you guys find you really needed those first few months?" or "I want to bring so-and-so something they really need. What should I get?". I'm definitely no expert in the realm of motherhood. However, I do have the benefit of not having to look too far back in my memory to answer those questions (I use the word "memory" loosely, of course).
I'll qualify this post by stating the obvious: every mom is different and every baby is different. As much as you try to prepare for your little one (or little ones), you'll never end up using things you thought you'd love and you'll find other items surprisingly indispensable. I will also say that this list is obviously not comprehensive. These are simply a few gifts and supplies that were incredibly helpful for my husband and me after we had our twins. If there existed a "new parent version" of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, these items would be level one (at least for me).
So what are a few things we really needed those first few months? Here's my answer:
1. Dynarex Disposable Underpad. No, these weren't (primarily) for me (I won't go into the postpartum details here). I honestly don't know why these aren't on every single baby registry imaginable. I guess it's kind of a weird thing to buy someone, but my sister got these for us when we came home from the hospital and six months later, I am still thanking her (thank you, Jenn!). We've used these mostly on the changing table. When you're a new parent and your kid seems to constantly pee or poop as soon as you take their diaper off (baby boys are especially guilty of this!), these underpads are priceless - especially at 3am. No changing sheets, no wiping down a changing pad. Buy these for a new mama and she will thank you.
2. Diapers and wipes. Giving diapers and wipes is about as practical as it gets! Need gifting ideas for cloth diapers parents? Add another cloth diaper to their stash (more diapers means laundry less often), or buy other diapering items like flushable diaper liners. (Note that especially if you give disposable diapers, include a receipt so parents can exchange them for a different size or brand if needed.)
3. Breastfeeding accessories and/or baby formula. As a breastfeeding and pumping mom, I needed things like breastmilk storage bags and nursing pads. For formula feeding parents, giving a can or two of formula is incredibly helpful. (Again, include a gift receipt on this because parents and babies may prefer certain brands over others.)
4. Laundry Detergent. The amount of laundry you have as new parent is ridiculous. You can't go wrong with gifting a huge jug of laundry detergent (try to get a natural, fragrance-free version to avoid any skin irritation for newborns). If you know the new parents are using cloth diapers, give a cloth-diaper friendly detergent.
5. Restaurant gift cards, grocery store gift cards and homemade meals. If you can make a homemade meal for someone, do it. We had meals provided for us for about three months. It was absolutely incredible. After the first round of meals was used up, we had a stock of items in the freezer that family and friends had provided. After that, we had restaurant and grocery store gift cards to use. We were given gift cards to Trader Joe's, take out places and our favorite restaurants for date nights. It was awesome.
6. Amazon gift cards or big box store gift cards. It's nice to have a gift card or two to buy baby supplies you still need or random items you never thought of but are so thankful you can find on Amazon or at Target.
7. Coffee. I think since having twins, our coffee consumption has increased exponentially. Give the gift of (good) coffee and sleep-deprived parents will be grateful. My suggestion, as always, is FreshGround Roasting beans. You can even buy new parents a coffee subscription for a few months so they're well caffeinated after too many sleepless nights.
There's a lot more I could say, and there are a lot more products I could talk about (and probably will in a later post). This is just a starting point. And if the thought of giving a pack of diapers, wipes or a gift card sounds boring to you, there are fun ways to do it. My neighbors combined forces and gave us a basket stuffed full of assorted baby necessities and a super generous pile of gift cards. It was thoughtful, useful and wrapped adorably (yes, we have the world's best neighbors).
Whatever you decide to give, know that it's appreciated. The support and encouragement shown through gift giving is powerful!
What practical items would you add to this list? I'd love to hear in the comments!