Useful gifts for first time parents

Buying gifts for friends or family who are having their first baby can be tricky, especially if you're not around babies often (like I once was). Here is a list of things we and our new parent friends have found particularly useful.

The worth of some of these things may not be immediately apparent to your gift recipient as you can't really know what you're getting into at that stage. Worry not because you will likely receive a message from them in a few weeks/months thanking you from the bottom of their sleep deprived soul!* I’ve directed these gifts at mothers mostly but they are all appropriate to anyone who is about to have a little person inhabit their lives.

Bonds’ Zippys

I know it’s tempting to buy that cute outfit set with thousands of buttons and matching pieces but your friend will silently curse you when trying to get their wriggly, drunk octopus-like baby into it. BUY. ALL. THE. ZIPPYS. One or more in every size. Or just bigger sizes (00, 0, 1) because these can be used for longer, people tend to gift you things in smaller sizes (presumably to get that cute pic of your baby wearing it sooner), and it’s harder to get bigger sizes second-hand (because babies this age give their clothes a real workout). 

Bonds have frequent 40% off sales so add them to your Facebook or Instagram to find out when their next one is and buy up big. And while you’re there, consider buying their leggings (in bigger size as anything but onesies are too hard with a newborn)  and socks because they are better than most according to the many parents I have surveyed (aka our playgroup).

Fancy hand wash

I am not a smelly beauty products kind of person but when you’re tired and washing baby poo etc off your hands 300 times a day, washing your hands with a nice smelling hand wash can feel like a mini trip to a day spa. Before I had a baby I would have thought this was stupid but trust me, it’s a thing. Bonus points if it comes in a large, pretty bottle that can be refilled with cheap stuff so you can trick people into thinking you’re fancy all the time. Suggestions: this one and these ones.

A picnic rug

When you have a baby, parks are safe places; no one cares if your baby cries and you can change them wherever. Plus, parks are a great place to meet friends when cafes seem daunting and your new parent group/playgroup will likely often meet at one. Bonus points if the rug is easy to pack up. Nobody has time to neatly roll a picnic rug back up when your baby is loaded in their chariot and is ready to go home NOW. Cue cramming picnic rug under pram as quickly as possible, mud and all.

A fancy dressing gown

In those early days, you need accessible clothes. Skin-to-skin time, breastfeeding, post-birth check-ups in hospital/at home…your body can be in high demand. Plus, you will probably want to be comfy when you're up a few times in the night. Or all night. Cue very fancy dressing gown to make you feel glam. Well, almost glam. They’re also great for wrapping your little baby in while you wonder around the house waiting for them to succumb to delicious sleep. Suggestions: any of these, and this one.

Sun hats and sunscreen

These are important things to have but not something that you generally think of when you’re pregnant. Buy the sun hats in bigger sizes for when the baby is past the newborn beanie phase. Make sure the material is thick and it has a broad brim. In addition to sun protection, hats are also great for helping babies to zone out when in carriers at shopping centres etc. It is recommended that babies don’t use sunscreen until 6 months old (their skin is super sensitive) and that when they do it be a zinc based formula. We were gifted Baby Bum and love it but other options include this one and this one. Good hats can be found here. Bonus points: a themed present with sun hat, sunscreen, a rashie and towel. (I secretly want to curate gifts for a living.)

Presents to avoid

New Parent World is a weird one. There are lots of social rules to navigate. If you don’t live in New Parent World you may think it’s cute to buy things like dummies and bottles but the use of these comes with lots of factors for parents to consider. I don’t mean to suggest that these are ‘bad’ things to use by any means. But they’re things usually not gifted as it has the potential to cause offense and are probably best bought by the parents. Plus, babies typically decide which dummy, bottle, etc they prefer and unless you’re psychic you can’t know which.

So with this in mind try to avoid (unless requested, of course): dummies, bottles, breastfeeding related things, religious related things, gifts that imply the parents will have more children (e.g. ‘one day you’ll be a big brother/sister’ book), heavily gendered items (e.g. onesies that say ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘girls should just stick to being pretty’), and parenting books (especially those focused on sleep or routines).

I hope this was helpful. If you found any other unusual but useful things let me know on Twitter or Instagram!

Kate xx

P.S. Some of this post paints a less than pretty picture of parenthood. And sometimes this is the case. But it’s also so damn fun and such an adventure. Just thought I’d throw that in there as too often there is a focus on the negatives and it can be easy to forget that having a little human is pure magic.

*For anyone reading this who gifted us things not on this list, I don't mean to diss you! We loved all the thoughtful presents we received; these are things that don’t often appear on ‘to buy’ lists.