Beyond Buying: “Gifts” New Parents Will Love
With just weeks now till our baby's due date, people are inevitably asking me for ideas for baby gifts. Prior to having kids I was inclined to buy a cute outfit, some type of trendy toy or baby blanket ( no joke, I received 11 baby blankets as gifts with baby #1!!!). However after becoming a mom, my perception on gifts that are truly appreciated and needed has drastically changed.
I certainly remember with our first baby having a very comprehensive list of needs which included things like nursery items, necessities for sleeping, transporting and feeding, as well as the basics for clothing a babe. With the the arrival of our second baby- being of the opposite gender- clothing was still welcomed, however toys, bedding and other general nursery and baby care items were not needed. This time as we are expecting our third, what I really am hoping for are gifts more focussed on time, service and love. The really great news here is these are gifts with a very low or no price tag attached! When I look back at my previous two births, and certainly having some conversations with other moms as I prepared to write this blog, these type of gifts would have been greatly appreciated then as well.
So what type of gift am I talking about? Here's a list of things that you can do for a new mama/parents that will go a long ways to helping her relax, feel loved and provide the necessary time she needs to focus on her newborn.
- Shopping and running errands- Before you head over for a visit ask the new mama “Can I pick up anything for you on my way?” Or before you leave her house “Are there any little errands that I could do for you in the next day or two?” Often small trips to town are time intensive and a nuisance for new parents. Being able to pick up a jug of milk, drop off a package at the post office or pick up some prescription medication for them can be a major help.
- Bring a hot meal over or something ready for the freezer- Give a call in advance and see if there's a day during the week that you could bring over hot dinner for the family, ready to serve. I guarantee arriving at the door with something ready to put on the table to nourish a family will be a well received gift! During your weekly meal preparation, doubling a batch of muffins, granola bars, cookies, soups or casserole and packaging it ready for the freezer is a very thoughtful way to letthe whole family know that you're thinking of them and you want to help out. If you're not a home chef, arriving with a bag of fresh fruit or vegetables is also an awesome idea. New moms need simple nutritious food that they can grab on the go to keep their energy levels up and help their bodies produce that amazing breastmilk the new babe loves-and needs!
- Helping out with cleaning. What mom wouldn't appreciate a hand with small jobs around the house? While you are visiting, offering to spend 15 minutes to half an hour helping with household tasks can really help to ease moms stress. Things like running the vacuum around, sweeping up floors, putting a load of laundry on, folding a basket of clean clothes, washing some dishes, loading or emptying the dishwasher, scrub the tub, helping to tidy up (especially toys of other siblings) or even changing beds are simple tasksthat show you care. Admittedly some moms might shy away from having you help with the dirty work, maybe there are other projects around the house or the yard that are driving them crazy and could use a helping hand or attention? Perhaps weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, harvesting food from the garden, tidying up kids toys in the yard or taking some recycling away would be helpful!
- Time to herself- Some other great ways to help a new mom include snuggling the new baby while mom takes a nap, has a shower or goes out for a short walk ALONE. These small increments of time to herself provide some peace, rest and likely the break she is secretly craving.
- Child care- Are there other children in the family? Taking them out for a play to a nearby park or over to your house for a meal or sleepover can also be a great way to create some zen for the new parents and give some “at-home-downtime”. You can frame this as a special date for the siblings, so they feel acknowledged and honoured with all the focus on the new baby.
AND here are some thoughts on gifts that you could buy for your new mama that might not come to mind right away (that I'm sure would be greatly appreciated!). Gifts that are intended just for mom: gift certificates for a massage, manicure or a pedicureare very thoughtful (the post-birth body is often overlooked and unattended to). And taking it one step further-- there are aestheticians and masseuses who do home visits! Set this up where you come over and care for baby while mom gets pampered! Perhaps a nice bath or beauty product to spoil her or some tea and hot lunch would be appreciated. Another amazing present: a gift certificate for the couple to get take out dinner close to home or go out for dinner (the break from meal prep and clean up is the best gift ever!!)
Last but not least if you're going to be shopping for a more traditional gift, asking what is really needed and actually LISTENING--is always appreciated. Many parents will have a gift registry where they have hand picked out items that are practical and sought after and giving them something off the list will always be appreciated.
The last insight I have on the subject of birth and baby gifts, is to take the time to acknowledge each new baby and celebrate their arrival. I've had many surprising conversations lately with friends who have talked about the arrival of their third or fourth child hardly being recognized by friends or family. It sometimes can feel like, because they have already had a baby, it is no a longer special event. So just because they have all the nursery gear and clothes from the older siblings still tucked away does not mean that your new mama won't appreciate a phone call, card or act of service/love to acknowledge the wonderful arrival of her new member of the family. Each baby is unique, a precious gift and worthy of being acknowledged and celebrated!
Kristy Martin Hale is an ongoing contributor. Along with her childhood sweetheart, their approach to raising their young children has been shaped by a love of the great outdoors, adventure and a simplified lifestyle. Working at the Matraea Centre, Kristy has developed a uniquely grounded insight on pregnancy, birth and parenting. Welcoming the concept of community and parents helping parents, she writes from the heart, with the intention of encouraging and educating. Sandy barefeet, muddy garden hands, soft snuggles and the occasional rugby game fill up her free time.