I can still remember standing at the Target counter listening to the teenager who worked there, talk to me about how to register for my baby shower gifts. All I kept thinking was “I really have to pee and why does this 18-year-old know so much about onesies and diapers?” As she handed over the magical scanner gun, I looked at my husband (who was clearly more interested in doing anything but this), shrugged my shoulders, and started clicking.
The amazingly generous baby shower (with all of those gifts from my happy clicking) came and went. After everyone left, I stood in the middle of my living room staring at a pile of gifts that resembled a small landfill, and thought, There is no way a tiny human being is going to use all of this stuff. It was then that I made a promise to myself and my husband —who was now making his tenth trip to the recycling bin — that when we got pregnant again, we would resist the urge to go clicking a gazillion UPC codes at Target, and only ask for a few items that we really felt were necessary.
And to be honest, in those first few months — heck, in that first year — there are loads of things that could help a new mom out that don’t involve wipes
Many moms feel selfish asking for gifts that don’t directly relate to their newborn, but guess what? any gifts that helps mom (and dad) are good for the baby. So here are 10 “non-traditional” gifts to consider buying for the next baby shower you are invited to. (Because trust me — that mom-to-be doesn’t even know how bad she’ll need these.)
1. Homemade meals, once a week.
If this is a gift from one person, the meals could be given over the course of a month (i.e., every Sunday for one month). If a group wanted to take this on, the food duties and dates could be divided up and meals could be delivered a couple of times a week for several months straight. And for a new mom, it would feel like a blessing.
2. Pre-paid meal delivery service.
Another meal-related (but far easier route) would be springing for a week’s worth of recipe deliveries. Blue Apron, Green Chef, Plated … No matter the service, this one’s ideal simply because it saves new parents the hassle of having to make it to the grocery store during that crazy first week home.
3. A complimentary date night.
This one doesn’t even have to be too creative: Stick money in a card with a “coupon” that offers free child care for a night, and BAM = instant hit. Again, if a group wants to take this on, more coupons could be added for multiple date nights. (Or, just throw in some extra money and the phone number of your most trusted sitter. That works, too.)
4. 529 college savings fund contribution.
You can establish a 529 savings fund for your child and then ask family and friends to make a deposit to the account.
5. Professional cleaning services.
As much as we would all love to be that mom who doesn’t care if the dishes pile up and the house is a mess, many of us are not able to ignore the clutter, and seeing the house in disarray can cause major anxiety. Arranging for a house cleaner to come in a couple times during the first three months or so after a baby is home is a great way to take some pressure off of mom. (Who wouldn’t want that?!) Check out some national cleaning services like Maid Pro or Handy.
6. New mom wardrobe essentials.
You know what I’m talking about: A super comfy robe, forgiving yoga pants (don’t skimp on this one — invest in some quality pants to make her feel good), a nursing bra and top, slippers, cozy socks, a hooded zip-up sweatshirt, and a cute baseball hat (to hide unwashed hair when mom actually does leave the house) … any of the above would more than get their fair share of use.
7. A subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.
Needless to say, anyone would love this one. Try to find out her favorite shows and movies ahead of time and have them downloaded and ready to go in the library for the middle of the night feedings.
8. Postpartum exercise class.
Spring for a three-month class card so she has an excuse to get away once a week and spend some time with herself. If childcare is an issue, get another friend to go in on the gift and take turns watching the baby while Mom is at class.
9. Body care package.
Throw in the works: Dry shampoo (for the days mom just can’t make it to the shower), lip balm, ponytail holders, thick moisturizer (read: Shea butter) for cracked, achy feet, a water bottle with a built-in straw and ice cooler, nipple cream, breast pads, and of course lots and lots of chocolate!
10. Busy activities for the older kids.
One of the hardest things for moms who have more than one kid is trying to give attention to other children after the baby is born. The best gift I received with my second pregnancy was a basket of quiet activities (crayons, coloring books, picture books, small toys, a stuffed animal, easy puzzles, dolls, etc.) for my older daughter to play with while I was nursing, napping, or just resting. She could be right next to me coloring, looking at new books, or playing with a toy while I nursed or napped (and of course, having a gift of her own made her feel extra special).
P.S. You might be wondering why I left off one of the most popular gifts given to women: massages. Well, if you’re anything like me, the last thing you want after giving birth (and sometimes for several months) is another human being touching your body — not to mention what might happen to a nursing mom if she lays face down on a massage table! Those gifts will come in handy one day soon enough, but trust me, save them for later.