My friend Sara was one of the first people in my social circle to have a baby. All of us rushed out to buy the perfect baby gift for her, and of course, most of us were totally clueless as to what she would really like or need.
She ended up with lots of newborn clothes (some of which she never even had a chance to use before her baby was onto the next size), a few very helpful gifts - mostly from other mums, and 5 or 6 more of those cute baby bath towels with hoods than she actually needed.
If you find yourself in the same boat as me, this handy guide will help you navigate your way to choosing the perfect baby gift with ease.
Just because you have a baby, doesn't mean your taste will totally change overnight. If your friend hates pastels, go for colours or patterns that are more in keeping with their style. Have a look at what sort of colours they wear themselves (though I would probably avoid anything in black). If in doubt, stick to neutrals and avoid baby pink and blue!
It is so tempting to buy those cute little babygrows in size 0 isn't it? But the truth is a lot of babies are born at the top end of this size range already. Newborns are actually getting bigger - the past 50 years has seen around a 20% increase in cases where the baby is too big to physically fit down the birth canal (fetopelvic disproportion). Eek.
On the other end of the scale, if the baby is born prematurely he/she may not be even close to fitting into even the smallest 'normal' baby sizes.
If you're buying a gift after the birth, clothes for 3mths+ often go down well, if not - you might want to skip this minefield altogether!
Most new parents have hand-me-downs from friends or family, but there may be gaps in what they have or need. Rather than buying the breast pump your sister-in-law said she liked, have a quick check to see what the new parents would really find helpful. There's often something they really want but just don't think they can justify their spending on.
Following on from step three, it is always nice to get a gift that you wouldn't buy for yourself isn't it? A magazine subscription for a new mum can be a really thoughtful gift. She will probably spend a lot of time feeding her baby, too exhausted to think about anything in depth, when a flick through a magazine could be just the pick-me-up she needs. It might even help her feel like she has escaped the mundanity of new mum life for a few minutes.
If you want your gift to stand out, you have to think outside the box a little bit. For practical items, a known brand can bring peace of mind, so you probably want to stick to those. For other gifts, buy something pretty and a little bit decadent. They might not really need it, but every time the new parents see or use it they'll think about you - and wouldn't you rather be brought to mind for that gorgeous handmade teether rather than just one of the many bath towels they received?
We've also put together a simple Guide to Babies for Non-Parents...
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