When everyone you know is having babies, and you’re invited to a hundred baby showers, it gets a little overwhelming navigating baby registries to find the right things to buy for the parents-to-be. It’s tempting to go off-registry, especially when the only things left on the list are big-ticket items. But off-registry shopping usually results in Mom having a 14-year supply of sleepytime bath wash and lotion, a dozen copies of Goodnight Moon, and enough newborn sleepers to clothe triplets… until they get bigger. Want some ideas for unexpected baby shower gifts that might actually be useful and well-received? I got some!
No, not baby towels. Those are pretty terrible and everyone gets a hundred of them because they’re so cute. I mean grown-up towels. I know, towels don’t seem very baby-showery. That’s why these are unexpected baby shower gifts. Really, a gift of giant bath sheets to the mom-to-be is a great idea, because as that belly expands, normal-sized bath towels may as well be hand towels by the end. Bath sheets are big enough to wrap all the way around and are incredibly satisfying. Depending on the season, you could also get huge beach towels with fun prints – same size, same idea, but could double as actual beach or pool towels for future summers.
But I also recommend getting a stack of cheaper normal-sized bath towels in a darker color. Mom can throw them on the couch when nursing, to avoid regurgitated milk stains on the microsuede. throw them on the floor for tummy time – easier to wash than the fancy play mats. Later, when kiddo is older, lay them on their bedroom floor as puke catchers on sick nights.
Yes, it’s gross. And it takes nerves of steel (and sometimes a second set of hands) to use it properly on a howling infant. But no product in the world works as well on a stuffy baby nose. There are fancier models meant to be used with replaceable filters, but you can also find ones that use regular wadded-up tissues as a filter – much cheaper in the long run.If you’re giving this as a gift, add in a squirt bottle of saline to go with it, because loosening up the snot with a small squirt of saline makes it so much more suckable. Just be careful to buy something that’s indended for babies – there are adult saline sprays with a much more powerful spray that could hurt a baby’s teeny nose.
You may worry that sucking snot directly from the baby’s nose will guarantee that the parents catch every cold the baby gets. That’s why the little rubber bulb “aspirators” are on everyone’s list and come packaged as part of every baby toiletries kit. But, look, germ transfer is going to happen anyway, because babies are designed to leak every possible fluid all over everyone. All germs are shared germs once baby arrives. Some folks may be put off by the snot sucker and want to return it right away, but I know so many who swear by this thing that I absolutely recommend it to everyone who’s either having a baby or buying for one.
Stretchy Car Sun Shades
All new parents have car sun shades on their baby registry. But most of them have selected the wrong sun shades: the sun shades that roll down like old-fashioned blinds, and are held up with flimsy suction cups. They fall off, kids can reach them and yank on them, and they only cover a small section of window. The cling film sun shades aren’t much better. Most of them are packaged all folded up into a tiny square, leaving creases that never quite smooth out. They’re all pretty fiddly to stick on, and peel easily.
These stretchy ones fit over the whole window, frame and all, like a stocking. They block every possible inch of the window, so baby won’t be squinting and screaming. One size fits most cars, and even if kiddo yanks it up, the stretch design means that the outside layer will keep blocking the sun. The only downsides are that they flap in the breeze, and they affect visibility once it gets darker outside. They’re washable, easy, and fantastic. I recommend these to everyone looking for a baby shower gift.
Reusable Water Bottles
These are a great gift, especially if you know that the new mother is planning to breastfeed. She’ll need to stay super hydrated, and she’ll often be trapped with only one hand free. A collection of water bottles she can keep filled and ready is extremely useful.
Even better if they’re the flip-up straw kind, like these BPA-free Contigo bottles: easy one-hand operation, and less mess if it gets knocked over. For extra credit, add a straw brush set for cleaning these – she’ll need one for sippy cups down the road anyway.
Autoseal Coffee Mugs
Same idea as above: sleepy new moms need their coffee, but an open cup of hot liquid is dangerous around baby. Spill-proof travel coffee mugs are a must. I highly recommend the Contigo autoseal ones, because they require you to press a button in order to open them enough for a sip.
When baby’s older and mobile and grabs the full mug when nobody’s watching, they won’t be able to accidentally dump it all over themselves and the floor.
Any of these gifts might get you a funny look at a baby shower as it’s unwrapped, but once the new parents are in the trenches they’ll realize that these were spot-on gifts. I know that every one of these has made my life easier as a parent, and I appreciate their existence on a very regular basis.
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