19 Dec 2009
Even if you're not in the stage of life where you're thinking of having or already have children, you've probably already or will soon participate in buying a baby gift for someone. Here are some pointers for useful baby presents.
1) Buy a size bigger. Baby clothes start out at size "newborn". The next largest size is 0-3 months, then 3-6 months. Some clothes are only labeled with a number such as "3", which means it should fit for about 3 minutes before the kid outgrows it. Just kidding. I believe it means it'll fit at around the 3-month mark. Our newborn outgrew the newborn size in the womb, and didn't fit into some 0-3 month clothes from the get-go, either. So buy 0-3 at a minimum. And don't rule out purchasing XXL for the little alien.
2) Buy clothes that tear away easily. This is not so the kid can practice his Hulk Hogan shirt ripping routine, but rather to make it easier for the parents to change the diapers. Shirt and pants? Cute as all get-out, but totally inconvenient except for special occasions. Anything that must be brought over the head is tough. I recommend one-piece outfits that zip (or button) from the neck all the way down one or both legs. You might also want to avoid outfits with feet, so that it lasts for all of one extra week before being outgrown. Get gender neutral colors so the parents can reuse the clothes with their next baby.
3) Burp cloths. Spit-up will be a reality, even if the parents are going to breast feed. In fact, you might as well buy a roll of plastic to coat and protect their entire house... and their clothes. Does their work dress code allow plastic-wrapped pants?
4) Diapers. But not in tower/cake form, which although looks neat, might erase all traces of size and brand (unless the diaper is well labeled). And an open package of diapers is skeevy. With diapers you also risk the parents already having a brand loyalty. But most likely with a little poop machine on their hands they will appreciate all the help they can get on the diaper front. (Again, you might do best to avoid the newborn size.)
5) Water-proof mats. Parents might want to lay a mat down wherever they change the lil' munchkin, or beneath baby if they breast feed laying down, or beneath if baby is set on a couch, chair, in a crib, or on the floor. Remember, babies are orifice cannons. Preemptive measures must be taken to protect the surroundings.
6) You could get a 2-in-1 kind of gift... like a horse trough. The little buggers eat so much that it could work as a feeding pen and double as a bassinet.
7) One extremely useful gift is a cover for the car seat (the kind with a little circle to peer out of) so you don't have to worry as much about bundling up the young'n in the cold. You should see if this is on the registry and go in with another person to get it if it's expensive.
Which means you should check websites for their online registry - then you'd know you're getting something they'd want. Ha ha ha ha.... Yeah right. If these are first-time parents, what they want and what they end up really wanting will probably not match. Nonetheless, check these sites to see if they're registered and if you can find something useful: Baby Depot, Babies"R"Us, JC Penney, One Step Ahead, Pottery Barn Kids, Target, and Walmart. (Baby Gap and Carter's do not seem to have registries.)
A couple of other tips: Get a gift receipt. And please do not lavish the soon-to-be parents with childbirth horror stories (but if you can't resist, make them short stories). But please do offer constructive tips that helped maintain your sanity during the first couple months of parenthood (try to offer these tips without complaining).
Following these guidelines will help make you an appreciated guest at the baby shower, or an extra special friend or family member!