Last week a dear friend texted me to say that she's going to a baby shower next weekend and she doesn't have kids so AHHH HELP she had no clue what to get. She just wants to find a gift the mom will LOVE and did I have any suggestions?!
My first suggestion was to buy something off her registry. I think most people really appreciate when you get something they asked for (and often NEED) off their registry instead of yet another newborn outfit that will only be worn once.
But in this case the mama-to-be didn't have a registry, so here's what I recommended. I tried to think of fun "extras" that she might not purchase for herself, but that she'll use all the time and love! (And hey—my friend is still looking for a gift and she reads this blog—so if you have any other ideas please share in the comments!)
I told her that if the mama is planning to breastfeed (a big IF but if you're close friends you can usually find out), the perfect thing would be a breastfeeding gift basket! You could package up a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, some Motherlove nipple cream (sounds gross, but worth its weight in gold), some Mother's Milk Tea and a set of Bamboobies or other nursing pads. If you want to really go wild, you could also throw in a cute nursing cover (not necessary but nice to have in the newborn stage), a Boppy or My Brest Friend pillow, a gift card to get a nice nursing bra, and maybe even a manual breast pump. Throw some cellophane and a bow on all that and you've got the world's best new-mom basket. Your friend will be blessing your name every time she pulls out one of those awesome supplies!
Another themed gift (again depending on the mom's plans) is a cloth diaper gift basket with a diaper sprayer, a cute wet bag (large and small), some of the special detergent for cloth diapers, and of course 2–4 diapers of her choice (I use the Bumgenius 4.0 but the options are endless).
One of the biggest sanity-savers postpartum is a good baby carrier, like the K'tan or Solly Baby or Ergo. This is another case where it's best to know her preference, but if in doubt, I recommend getting the K'tan because it's comfortable and easy to figure out.
Or you could take the guesswork out of it and get her a membership to her local Babywearing International chapter, so she can rent a new baby carrier every month. This is an amazing, inexpensive (my local chapter is $30) way to test out different carriers and I really wish I'd done this before Frankie was 13 months old (but better late than never, right?). One of my friends buys a membership for every new mom she knows which is super thoughtful and useful.
Going down the much more affordable route...
Indestructibles are like board books but better. They seriously can't break and they have the prettiest illustrations. Frankie doesn't have one but I wish he did! The little girl next door does, and her mom attests that it keeps her endlessly entertained.
A new mom can never have enough Old Navy baby socks—they're the best at actually staying on little feet, plus they're inexpensive and cute. Before Frankie was born, my brother-in-law (who works at Old Navy) awesomely bought us about 20 pairs in all different sizes and colors. We have used them almost every day, and the great thing about having so many is that I'm never frantically hunting for a missing sock since I can always just grab a different pair. For a darling presentation, you could do what one of my friends did and package the little socks in cupcake liners in a cute box. You can never have too many!
A super useful gift is a pack of "prefold" (flat, unfolded) cloth diapers. They make the best burp cloths because they're so absorbent. I have a few packs of these and use them constantly! A similar idea is a package of flannel blankets—you can use them as swaddle blankets, burp cloths, anything.
I didn't discover these bibs that double as burp cloths until recently, but I'm completely obsessed and wish I had about 10 of them. They do both jobs perfectly and are super cute too. Any mom would love some of these!
I asked my mom for a teething necklace (jewelry for mom that baby can safely chew) for my birthday last year and I use it all the time. Some great brands include Chewbeads, Smart Mom Jewelry, and The Jones Market. You could get your friend a gift card or pick out some jewelry for her if you know her style.
One of our favorite gifts was a set of stacking bath toys that Frankie has so much fun playing with. Who knew bath toys would be such an awesome present? Throw in some organic baby shampoo or a hooded towel and you have another gift basket idea.
Before I had a baby I scoffed at the idea of using one of those backseat car mirrors that let you see your baby while you're driving. Then I had a baby and that silly little car mirror became my favorite thing. It was a baby shower gift and I think most new moms would love one (even if they don't think they will before baby is born!).
Alright, that's all I got. I really hope this is helpful, and if you have any other suggestions, lay 'em on me. If all else fails, you can't go wrong with books or clothing! Or, as one of my friends said, "beautiful, open-ended, wooden toys that will grow with the child." Yep. :)
p.s. For more along these lines, check out these great posts one and two by super-experienced mama Grace.