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9 Gifts No Toddler Mom Wants Under the Tree, Plus 1 Shell Treasure Forever

Holiday gifts for moms

You can do much harm if the wrong thing is in that box

It’s a nice idea to say it’s just the thought that counts when giving a gift. But moms of toddlers have lots of nice ideas, all of which are derailed daily by their toddlers.

The very least you can do is not add insult to injury by getting the mom of a toddler a bad gift this holiday season.

No one said it would be easy, but at the very least, avoid these 9 gifts — and try hard to see if you can find that one thing (which we’ve suggested below) that is guaranteed to thrill her from head to toe:


  • More Time with Her Toddler 1 of 11
    More Time with Her Toddler
    Chances are most moms have enough time with their toddler. Even if the toddler is in daycare and the mom works all day, it only takes a single four-minute tantrum in the morning while getting dressed or 90-minute pre-bedtime meltdown for her to know a "special" Mommy-and-toddler-only-outing is the last way she wants to spend a Saturday afternoon.
    An I.O.U. for some special time together once the toddler is no longer a toddler, on the other hand? Perfect.
    But until then — you enjoy that extra afternoon spent with a weeping toddler in the children's museum because someone else got to hold the red boat.
  • Anything Living 2 of 11
    Anything Living
    This includes "hearty" plants and "low-maintenance" animals. She already has to worry about keeping a toddler alive, which is no small feat.
    Do you think she needs one more living, breathing thing to worry about keeping alive when she's lying awake with terror each night?
  • Anything Without a Gift Receipt 3 of 11
    Anything Without a Gift Receipt
    She's tired. She's been tested. She's the mom of a toddler.
    Don't try to guess what she wants. You'll give it with love if you give it with a gift receipt.
    P.S. Don't make her have to return something that was purchased online, either. It you've ever so much as seen a toddler in line with a mom at the post office after the holidays, you should already understand.
    Play it safe — buy locally so she can exchange it in person.
  • Unflattering Anything 4 of 11
    Unflattering Anything
    This includes (but is not limited to): Clothes that are too big, too small or not her taste, books on how to be a better parent, creams or potions meant to make her any better than she is already, a tacky knickknack that she will feel compelled to display, or anything that her toddler will like more than she will (which doesn't make it unflattering, per say, but you can imagine she'll be flattered at how you thought not at all about what she'd like).
    Photo credit: Zazzle.com
  • Breakable, Chokable Jewelry 5 of 11
    Breakable, Chokable Jewelry
    It could be the Hope diamond on a strand of pearls, but all she'll see is the potential for the necklace to be yanked by small hands, the string to break, the toddler to choke on one of the pearls and get cut on a corner of the diamond.
    It's not a gift if a toddler ends up in the emergency room, is it? Do you want to be the one to try and hold the toddler still while they're receiving stitches?
    (No. The answer is no.)
  • Books 6 of 11
    Books
    It's just an insult.
    Books?
    Because toddler moms have so much energy and time to themselves to read anything that doesn't include a lift-the-flap?
  • Socks 7 of 11
    Socks
    It doesn't matter if they're mink-lined, cashmere or studded with Swarovski crystal.
    They'll just end up being one more thing for her to try and sort and match that the toddler is just going to sidle over, lose and mismatch the second she turns her back.
  • Stuff for the House 8 of 11
    Stuff for the House
    The house is not a mom's while a toddler is living under the roof. The house belongs to the toddler.
    So take your kitchen gadgets and appliances, vacuum clean and dust buster (particularly since none of these are gifts anyway — they are reminders that you need to hire a cleaning lady), and any kind of decorative item that will be mauled by a toddler at the first opportunity, and save them for when Mom can take back control of the house in about a dozen-and-a-half years.
  • Fancy Lotions and Perfumes 9 of 11
    Fancy Lotions and Perfumes
    Anything that can be used against a mom — such as when the toddler gets a hold of it and dumps its contents on the carpet — is all of a sudden not so fancy or luxurious but suddenly a serious nuisance instead.
    Kind of like toddlers.
  • But the One Thing Guaranteed to Have her Jumping for Joy? 10 of 11
    But the One Thing Guaranteed to Have her Jumping for Joy?
    That one special gift that will let a toddler mom know you totally understand what she's going through?
  • A Time Machine 11 of 11
    A Time Machine
    One that can go back in time (to that phase when the toddler was just a baby and wanted to sweetly fall asleep in her arms after spending precious time quietly cuddling and softly cooing) and forward in time (to the day the toddler leaves for college).
    Because the present day is no present at all — especially when it's spent trying to extract dried oatmeal from between the cracks of the hardwood floor.

Photo credits: iStock

More from Meredith on Toddler Times:

Read (even) more from Meredith at Babble’s Strollerderby, follow her on Twitter, and check out her weekly syndicated newspaper column at MeredithCarroll.com

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