Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Not to Buy for a Baby Shower Gift

One of the happiest times in life for a woman is when she is expecting a baby, and one of the most special things her friends and loved ones can do for her during this time, is to throw her a baby shower. Baby showers began many years ago as a way for family and friends to shower a young couple with gifts they needed for their new baby. Back when furniture, blankets, clothing, and most other items were made at home, a set of young parents might find it nearly impossible to make or afford all the necessary things for their new baby. Consequently, family and friends took part in the venture. One might make a crib and another, a dresser for baby. The women of the family made quilts, blankets, and little baby clothing. It was always a special time to shower gifts of love and necessity on a new mom or mom-to-be.

Today baby showers have become parties that are primarily for women, though in recent years, couple showers have become more common. These baby showers often include silly games, lots of good food, and plenty of gifts and gift certificates, many of which the mom-to-be picked out herself by making a list at her favorite store and passing the information on to the invited guests. But more often than not, the new mom does not make a specific list and while we know some of her needs, sometimes we are on our own when picking out a baby shower gift. While there are a plethora of stores and shops which cater to baby items, many a well-meaning friend or relative has made the mistake of choosing an inappropriate or unnecessary gift for a baby shower. Following are a few suggestions on what not to buy as a baby shower gift.

First, avoid gender specific clothing unless you have been told that the parents already know the gender of the new baby. This is a mistake often made by grandmothers or grandmothers-in-law who are understandably excited, but who mistakenly project their preferred gender on the baby-to-be. If you do not know the gender of the baby, either buy something other than clothing, or buy something in white, yellow, green, or lavender.

Second, avoid purchasing food for the baby. You may like the looks of the new line of baby food at your local health food store, or you may feel you are being helpful if you buy the parents a huge crate of formula, but the feeding of the baby can be a very personal thing. Most mothers breast feed their babies, and even those who do not often have their own favorite formula they use. Only buy food if you know there is something that has specifically been requested by the parents.

Third, avoid odd or unusual toys or playthings. Stuffed animals and teething rings are safe. Avoid toys that do not have safety ratings on them or that were bought in another country. Often in their excitement, relatives will buy future science projects, make-up kits, or other odd things for a new baby. Stick to regular baby toys.

Fourth, avoid giving picture books or parenting books that blatantly go against the beliefs of the parents or may hurt them in some way. Do not give a book about the importance of fathers to a single mom. Do not give a book on Bar Mitzvahs to a Christian family. Do not give a book on the ills of bottle feeding to a mother who is not able to nurse. You get the idea.

Lastly, never give a pet as a baby shower gift, even a fish. Yes, this has been done and it is usually a disaster. If the parents want their new baby to have a pet, they will decide when and which pet they choose. Most children are not ready to enjoy and take care of a pet until they are at least four or five-years-old, plus, having a new baby is responsibility enough for a new parent without the added responsibility of a new pet.

Now that you are armed with what not to do, enjoy your shopping excursion and have fun at the shower!

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