Monday, August 01, 2005

Baby Gift Do's and Don'ts

It's wonderful news! Someone in your family, or maybe a close friend, is expecting a new baby. Now you get to buy some gifts. You'll need a baby gift, of course, to take with you when you visit the new mom for the first time. You may also be invited to a baby shower, especially if this is the first child or if it has been a long time since the couple has had an infant in the house.

Now what? How in the world can you begin to sort through the acres and acres of baby paraphernalia, especially if you've never had children yourself? Some mothers-to-be register themselves at their favorite stores, so be sure to ask. If there's no registry, though, and the parents aren't forthcoming with gift ideas, you are not completely stuck.

There are a few things that new parents are bound to need. It's hard to have too many light weight crib blankets, for example. Other sure-fire hits include the little T-shirts that snap between baby's legs, socks, bibs, and burp rags. Babies go through diapers like there's no tomorrow, so contributions to the diaper supply will be appreciated particularly if money's tight.

In the area of baby clothing, it's best to steer clear of gender-specific items until the actual birth. Even couples who've opted to learn the sex of their baby ahead of time have been known to be surprised in the end. And when you do purchase clothing, remember that practical is almost always more appreciated than fancy. I remember that my girls had entire collections of sweet, teensy dresses that they wore one or two times each so that I could tell the gift giver how lovely they looked. It was kind of sad, really, but for day to day wear, nothing beat the little t-shirts and sweat pants, the one-piece sleepers, and the sweatshirts. Those were the items that I always wished I had more of.

It's best to buy clothing that's a bit too big. Babies grow remarkably fast, and newborns seldom fit into newborn-sized articles for more than a week or so. When I buy clothes for new moms, I buy the three to six month sizes. You may also want to consider the season and the local weather. If you're buying for baby in a few months, take the season into account and buy warm or cool clothing accordingly.

Toys are another great gift for a new baby. Choose toys for newborns that are above all, safe. This means that there are no sharp edges, loose decorations, strings, or other hazards. Make sure the paint or coloring will stay on, and not chip when it comes into contact with itty-bitty teeth. Babies are very attracted to bright colors and seemingly loud designs. They love toys that "do" something in response to their efforts as they learn to control their muscles a little bit. Toys that will move, make noise, sparkle, or do other interesting things in response to small efforts will be enjoyed by baby at an early age.

Think of books, as well. The first books that baby will find interesting will be those with large, simple pictures on their pages. Many of these are naming items. Another type of book to look for is a texture book. These books have a different interesting thing to touch on each page. Above all else, babies are especially attracted to pictures of other babies. Look for books with sturdy cardboard, plastic, or cloth pages and very sturdy binding. Remember that these tomes must be able to be mouthed, picked up by their pages, and chewed!

Baby equipment is another area where families might appreciate your thoughtfulness. Small containers to hold other things in the diaper bag, organizers for baby supplies near the changing table or in the bathroom, baby washcloths, soft towels, bath equipment, and so forth are all super ideas.

Families with newborns need a lot of "stuff." They will appreciate your thoughtfulness when you anticipate some of these needs and move to fill them with your gift.

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