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The 5 Worst Gifts for a Newborn Baby

By Meredith Carroll |

Crying baby

There are ways to avoid this

Of course any gift for a new child is sweet because someone took the time to think of and shop for your precious bundle.

That being said, some gifts are better than others. And some simply just aren’t good. At all.

Here are the five worst presents to give a newborn baby:


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All Gifts Are Not Created Equal: The Top 5 Worst Gifts for a Newborn Baby

Goodnight Moon

It’s a classic. There’s no story like it and you’ll read it endlessly for your child’s first few years of life. Which is why everyone else thought of giving it before you to the extent that the baby could cover his or her nursery walls — twice — with all of the copies that arrived after he or she was born.


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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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33 thoughts on “The 5 Worst Gifts for a Newborn Baby

  1. Heidi says:

    I never think a gift certificate is an appropriate present. A gift receipt is necessary, a gift certificate is like giving money, and I find that tacky (obviously not everyone agrees! I’m not judging those who disagree, more saying that for some people the thought really does count).

    But we have 3 copies of goodnight moon and enough newborn sized clothes to serve 10 families, so I’m with you on those.

    I also have 15 Aden + Anais swaddling blankets, but that might be ok.

  2. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Heidi — I’m actually with you on gift certificates and money, but I think they’re better than giving someone clothes they probably won’t need or might not like.

  3. Ashlie says:

    I. love. gift. certificates. You can get exactly what you want, but the gifter took the time to think of a store that would suit your purpose. I think gift certificates are thoughtful, especially in growing families where maternity leaves/day care bills might mean that shopping won’t be an option for awhile.

  4. Jessica says:

    the best thing you can get a new baby is ANYTHING THE PARENTS ACTUALLY REGISTERED FOR. seriously, what about registries is confusing?! i was truly amazed at the stuff i neither wanted nor needed that showed up at my baby shower, sans receipts. wtf? i actually don’t mind reused/regifted stuff, especially if they aren’t intended to be in lieu of a more legit gift. i’ve gotten a ton of great stuff for our bebe (due in 5 weeks) via hand-me-downs. but it’s not kosher to dress it up like a legit gift. tacky, tacky. also, the one thing i did NOT register for but would have so appreciated is a little mama-love: like a gift certificate for a pedicure or a massage or something. cest la vie. but i do agree with your list! now how do we share it with the masses so they know better?

  5. JoAnna L McGarvie says:

    hHAHAH so true why bother with registering in the first place i think i only got like one thing ive ever registed for and i have 3 kids!! lol And gift certificates are the best!!!!

    I do have to say giving someone some very not so worn no stained outfit is i think apporpriate! :) but thats just me lol hehheh

  6. Jessica M says:

    I agree with Jessica about the registry. No one even bothered to check mine to buy gifts, see what I wanted, or to see what my style is. It became a list for me to check off as I bought the stuff. My MIL orders online all the time and said the she wouldn’t order a registry gift because the store was an hour away..She wouldn’t go to the store either. I was the only person that ordered off my friend’s registry. For other people, I look at the registry, try to find in-store, and I look at their “taste”. I live in a small town so I ended up with a load of Wal-mart stuff after I specifically stated to everyone that I didn’t like most of the stuff there (Yeah, the suction, nail clippers, toys,and stuff like that are fine, but no blankets, clothes, etc.) I didn’t like books for my babies either. We have Dolly Parton program here for free books every month ish. Used gifts to me are tacky as well. My friend got a basket full of used clothes, sock, bibs that were not in EUC. They were clearly used, but the friend’s grandma put it in a basket and wrapped it cute. The friend was clueless that they weren’t new, lol. Re-gifting a new/unused item like NIB to me isn’t tacky. I have gotten toys,clothes, and stuff that I forgot about or didn’t need. I am one for gifting NB clothes or gift certificates, A lot of my friends didn’t get any or much NB because everyone told them that it’d be outgrown quickly. I do prefer gift certificate because people can’t seem to get what I like. Sadly, I don’t give receipts. I give large gear to close friends so I prefer to see them use it since I know they needed it. I ask before I buy if they will… With my daughter, I passed on a shower because I was set on getting what “I” liked instead of a bunch of things I wouldn’t like or use.

  7. Katie B. says:

    I have less to say about your 5 items and more that I feel the need to share that the picture above is my friend–she is the baby in the picture. It was so weird to see this picture pop up in my facebook stream from babble. I kept thinking…did Lindsay write an article for babble? What could she possibly have written about?? (As she doesn’t have any children.)
    And since I’m here, I do agree with your choices. Even though Good Night Moon is my 13 month old’s favorite book at the moment I’m pretty sure we got at least 2 copies. Maybe give a gift card to a book store and then print out a list of your recommended book picks for the mom to purchase with the card.

  8. Chloe says:

    I find a lot of the posters here sound greedy. You should be happy you got presents at all! Just because you are having a baby doesn’t mean you should get a multitude of perfect gifts that you choose. You decided to have a baby so it is your responsibility to get the things you need. It is great to get useful things but be grateful for any gifts you receive, it’s the thought that counts.

  9. tiphanie says:

    Someone actually gave me rubber gloves. To wear while i change my babies diaper. Worst gift ever!

  10. Daisy says:

    Really? These are the 5 worst things? What about larger clothing in the wrong season, like a summer outfit that will fit in the middle of winter. Or clothing with inappropriate pictures or logos. Or something that undermines the parents’ choices, such as a can of formula for a mother who plans to breastfeed.

    As for gifts without receipts, who says that people should be able to return your gift? It is pretty tacky to say it is a bad gift because it can’t be returned. I have dressed my kids in outfits that aren’t my taste many, many times. It is polite to put on the hideous outfit so that granny can ooh and ahh over her gift.

  11. Suebee says:

    Another vote for “why are registries so difficult?!” I had a friend send me a message on FB the other day – “We want to get you something … is there anything you need? Or should we just pick something off the registry?” REALLY?! I replied (with “LOLs” and smileys to give the appearance of levity instead of irritation), “The whole point of a registry is to document the stuff we need.” Too much stuff we’ve gotten already has been non-registry stuff, and we’re still lacking some much-needed stuff (I have a second “friend” shower next weekend).
    My mom got me Goodnight Moon, and so far it’s the only copy we got. But this next shower has a “please bring a book to start off the baby’s library” request in the invitation, so we shall see. LOL!

  12. Stacy says:

    Daisy should have wrote this article!

  13. Daisy says:

    @Stacy – Thanks! I thought my ideas were pretty good (bad) too.
    @Chloe – I agree! Gifts should be accepted graciously.

  14. abby says:

    Please tell Babble to stop with the slideshows what gives?

  15. Angela says:

    I have accepted all gifts without question. Be grateful for what you get even if its not what you expected. Just because ur having a baby doesn’t give you the right to be a snob. I have received many things I didn’t like or ask for but in the end, they will get used and who cares!! A two month old doesn’t need a style anyway!! Do you know how heart-breaking it is to have a $20 onesie barfed and pooped on numerous times…?

  16. Agnieszka says:

    I live in Europe and it’s not common to organize baby showers here. But once you’re waiting for a baby or having one, everyone wants to get you something and it’s cute I think. I’ve gotten tons of used outfits, blankets, socks and so on, it’s like you say: here, I don’t need it anymore, you could use it, it’s not all new but can be useful. And usually you get a box of these + one new toy or something. Nobody treats it like an offend, if you don’t like some of theese or are they too stained, you throw it out. And the reality is, if you have a newborn, you don’t have time to put on all of her clothes anyway before she outgrows it so a large part of what you get is brand new. My daughter is 6 m.o. now and I’ve bought for her maybe 3 things + I’ve sewn some gorgeous ones to be just for her. I think all the idea of baby showers where you expect somebody to come with a gift like a crib is somewhat strange. I understand little things or clothes, but the “hardware”?

  17. Jenn says:

    I absolutely LOVE the fact that I’ve received loads of used clothing from friends. I trust the fact that the clothes have been washed (I will wash them again anyways). Plus my little one is just going to spit up all over them anyways before he grows out of it quickly! I would rather not spend a bunch of money on new clothes for a newborn that will just be puked on and pooped on. I must say though, that these weren’t presented as shower gifts, I think that might be a little off-putting, but I would still be thankful.

    And the slideshows are annoying.

  18. Sarah says:

    I would have appreciated more gift receipts, not so I could return the items, but so I could have exchanged for the correct size!! I’m with the poster that talked about clothes for the wrong season. I just packed up a box of brand new, super cute winter clothes that all became the right size in April! :( Also, any baby gift (blanket or clothes) that requires dry cleaning is a bad gift!!!! It may look beautiful, but it just won’t get used!

  19. Lindsay says:

    My baby is almost seven weeks and he is still too small for all the bigger sizes everyone bought him. I had to shuffle to get more newborn sizes and he was seven lbs nine ounces when he was born. They do grow fast, but you still need something that fits for that first month or so.

  20. Suzanne says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority here, but isn’t the reason that we give showers and gifts so that the parents don’t have to go out and spend a boat-load of money to get what the baby needs? Any gift that is given with the intention of easing my way and helping my child is a “legit” gift. Who cares where it comes from or if it’s been used? As long as it keeps my child warm/dry/happy/safe/healthy, I don’t care. Frankly, I’m surprised at the number of comments about “they didn’t give me what *I* wanted”
    Got 3 copies of Goodnight Moon? Try donating one to a local book program, daycare, or church. Clothes too big, too small, out of season? How about sending them to a battered woman’s shelter or civic program that provides for families who have lost everything to fire or flood? Same thing goes for gift certificates and used clothing. If you don’t need or want it, then there are plenty of parents out there who find themselves in circumstances where they are desperate to care for their children and would be happy to benefit from what you don’t want.

  21. K. Annie says:

    Well put Suzanne! Bu you sound was more organized than me! My philosophy is that you get what you get and you don’t get upset and if you really did get a lot of gifts that aren’t your taste, maybe you should think about how you should have trimmed your guestlist–crazy aunts are the exception, of course. When you invite far flung bottom of the barrel friends, you get far flung bottom of the barrel gifts.

    As for registries-whatever-they ARE annoying for your guests. No one likes to be told what to buy…and then spend their Sunday watching you open all the gifts they’re already seen (and know what they cost). You’re not surprised and neither are they. While, I did use a registry, I really did appreciate the rogue gift getters–and, I should say ALL the gifts I got.

  22. Bailey says:

    I appreciated ALL of the gifts that I received, even the stuff that *I* didn’t like, because guess what? It’s the thought that counts, and the fact that you received anything at all should be appreciated. I was incredibly lucky with my baby shower and received boatloads of stuff from people I barely knew – to me, that was amazing. I received tons of used clothing and I thought it was very generous, not tacky.

  23. Jena says:

    I haven’t gotten a copy of Goodnight Moon yet, but I did get three copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

  24. TJ says:

    God! How greedy can you get? Just be thankful that people are actually giving things for your kid. No one is obligated to give you anything, as the responsibility to provide for your child is you and your partner’s. I utterly hate articles like these as much as I hate articles with titles along the line “The Most Ridiculous Baby Shower Gifts I Ever Received”. Really? There is truth in the proverb: don’t look a gift horse int he mouth. Get over your self-entitled selves.

  25. QueenBee says:

    I find all these comments very disturbing. Be glad people are getting your baby gifts. Learn the art of GRATITUDE. I know women who never had the privilege of having a shower or gifts because they moved or were estranged from their family. People may not have enough money to fit the “criteria” here. What is wrong with a regift? I have regifted a gift because I had an identical one already. There was nothing wrong with it. I LOVE gift cards because it gives me the freedom to get what I want. Any gift is kind because it shows that person took the time and effort to bless me and my baby. Sure, I’ve gotten some gifts without gift receipts. If I can’t use it, I will give it another grateful Mommy who can use it. I loved the newborn clothes I got- my baby was not a big baby and fit into them for quite some time. I loved the newborn hats and booties I got, and what we didn’t use, we gave to others. And for the comment about the registries, some people put RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE gifts on the registry that some can’t afford! They may have to pay for shipping or drive out of the way to get to that store. I really wish the author and posters here would take the greater perspective of being grateful that people want to bless you, instead of complaining that you didn’t get exactly what you want the way you wanted it. I know Moms that had to buy everything on their own and would have been grateful for anything.

  26. Taylor says:

    The gifts are always about the baby and the mommy – what about the daddy!? It’s always hard to know what to get the expecting daddy. Now with you can get the father to be the perfect gift! With our apparel and accessories any father can flaunt his new title as daddy all the while looking trendy and being comfy! “IM THE DADDY” products are perfect for any father! So dont forget about the daddy when it comes to the baby shower! Check out and show the daddy how much you care!

  27. Liz says:

    I did a lot of research to put the stroller, carseat, baby carriers and breast pump that appeared on my registry. I’d hoped it would be a nice blueprint for the people gracious enough to send things welcoming my baby into the world and, I think I really succeeded. I also registered at Amazon and Target, figuring that they’d cover my bases fairly well and anyone who wasn’t going to shop from the registry wasn’t going to shop from the registry. (Those were the gifts I really enjoyed receiving because they ended up being things I’d never thought to register for!)

    As for the shower, I really looked forward to seeing my friends and family at the shower my mom planned for me, but it got snowed out. Twice.

    Honestly, I was more disappointed about not getting the chance to visit with these wonderful people than I was about not having my baby’s gear all ready to go before she was born!

    I received the essentials – crib sheets, hamper, hand-me-down NB & 0-3mo outfits, crib & infant tub – from friends & family in drips & drabs, but I was OK with it until I realized I needed, say, the 12-pack of Gerber diapers because my little darling spit up all over my shoulder. Boy could I have used the “useless” receiving blankets (et al) then!!

    Anyway, I ended up spending a ton of time at Target because I simply did not have ANYTHING clothing-wise that suited the warmer weather we had before I went back to work (most of the hand-me-downs were Fall/Winter and my daughter was born in early March, so I needed Spring/Summer) and their clothing fit the bill – inexpensive and readily available in my daughter’s sizes!

    C’est la vie!

  28. Karla says:

    I agree with a few of the ladies here – gifts are to be appreciated, not snubbed. Consider yourself lucky to have friends or family that care enough about you to plan a shower, attend it, and get you anything at all!! I actually prefer used clothing – who wants to spend $10 on an outfit that will be worn a dozen times? Especially nowadays when things are tough, I remember my mother teaching me to always appreciate gifts- “it’s the thought that counts”.

  29. Nessie says:

    Of course people are grateful that someone has thought of them and gotten a gift. Without fail, when there’s an article on “worst” gifts, someone has to pitch in with, “OMG, you’re all so greedy!!! Be grateful for what you get! Blah blah blah.” I think these people sometimes scour the internet just looking for a “worst gift” article. We get it, people. But it is fun to complain. I agree that it’s irritating when you spend a lot of time researching items and put them on your registry and people decide to buy cute outfits instead, especially after you’ve told everyone that you have plenty of clothes, thank you very much. We have about 15 blankets, 40 little hats (I’m not exaggerating), and at least 50 pairs of little socks. I kept telling people that we’d already bought lots of clothes and that my sister was giving us all of her daughter’s clothes, but we still ended up getting a ton of clothes. It seems the “don’t buy newborn sizes” has gotten out, so instead I got a ridiculous amount of 3-6 month clothes. It’s just unfortunate that people wasted their money on clothes my child has never worn. Yes, I am grateful people were thinking of me and our child, but isn’t it better to get someone a gift they like and will use than get them something you think is cute but they don’t need or like?

  30. Nessie says:

    I must add that I had two baby showers (one small in person one and one amazing online one and got lots of great gifts :) . I was touched by people’s generosity. I also like telling our daughter who got her things (e.g. “So-and-so got that for you! Wasn’t that nice?”). One of the most useful gifts was a diaper bag (that I registered for) filled with diapers, wipes, Desatin, Vaseline, travel sizes of baby products, and other goodies from my SIL who has two kids. She’d put stuff in there I didn’t even know about that has come in tremendously helpful.

  31. Adriana says:

    I disagree with the Hats, bibs, booties, receiving blankets being a bad gift. I don’t know about any one else, but these items no matter how much I tried to keep track of them would end up lost. I always blamed the washer, it was my sock eating munster. But as far as giving gifts. I don’t think the big ticket items should be the responsibility of my baby shower guest. I have 4 kids my self, Except for a crib I got from a friend who no longer needed hers. I made all my big ticket purchases myself. I always went off my experiences of what I really needed to base my gift on. I usually by a box of diapers in a bigger size, make a baby blanket and bib (if they already know the name by this time I will embroider it in). I don’t care what any one says, you can never have enough bibs.

  32. carrie mckee says:

    We needed the bibs, the bassinet and the newborn clothes so I think the list you post is a bit unreasonable. A basket for the baby to sleep in? Really? Do you set your baby on the floor where you could trip on it in the middle of the night? I suspect the geographic area you live in has something to do with your list that is not applicable to everyone everywhere. Too many of the clothes we received were 12 month and we had to shop for newborn clothes so the baby would have something to wear for the first three months, so I disagree that newborn clothes are not needed. There were many things from the shower that we needed to return and most were taken back at the store without receipts, no questions asked and no gift givers had to know we received duplicates. Gift certificates are good gifts as there are always things new moms do not think beforehand and it helps.

  33. Jen says:

    I have nothing against recycled items. I actually prefer it. I told all of my friends that if they do feel they need to buy us something like clothes, to just get it from a thrift store or hand-me-downs from their own children. I don’t see the point of spending all that money for clothes a baby will wear for about 3 months. If it’s used and it’s something I don’t need, then there’s no problem donating it to a shelter or someone who does need it.

    I also don’t mind getting dozens and dozens of receiving blankets, but I use them for swaddling, burping, changing, clean up, etc and I don’t want single-purpose items like burp clothes or a changing pad.

    Also, usually, you can exchange duplicate items without a receipt at the major stores, so if I do get multiple copies of “Good Night Moon,” then I’ll just exchange the duplicates for other books.

    In the end, though, be grateful for the gifts. No one is obligated to get you anything for a new baby, people are showing they care and that’s what should matter.

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