Registries and wish lists. Pinterest and gift cards. The beauty of these forums is that they can take the guess work out of gift-giving. Every parent-to-be can attest that a fulfilled registry = happy Mom and Baby, but there are two things every new parent needs even more than bibs and bottles: time and sanity. Unfortunately, you won’t find either one on a registry at Babies ‘R Us. Consider one of the following suggestions.
Parenthood Gift Idea #1: Meal Coordination/Grocery Delivery Service
This is a popular gesture for friends and family of expecting loved ones, but it cannot be overstated what a huge blessing this can be for first trimester to postpartum moms. During the first trimester, many women are so sensitive to various smells that they cannot even enter the supermarket or walk into their kitchen as everything from the seafood department to the leftover tuna casserole in the fridge is enough to turn them green. If you choose to provide a nutritious meal to a newly pregnant woman and her family, it will be as big of a blessing as bringing a meal after the baby is born. Go the extra mile by packing everything in disposable/freezable storage containers so Mom doesn’t have to track you down later to return your grandmother’s casserole dish.
Parenthood Gift Idea #2: Housekeeping
Nesting mothers notice every crumb and dust bunny within a 50-yard radius. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not the time to be climbing on chairs to reach the ceiling fans or bending over to scrub the baseboards. If you have the resources, do your friend a favor and pay for a couple of visits from the housekeeper or perhaps just one deep-cleaning service before the baby arrives. Oh, and don’t forget the laundry. Do a little research to find a local wash and fold service that delivers, or for major “friend points,” opt to provide laundry service yourself!
Parenthood Gift Idea #3: Counseling
Baby blues do not always fade after two weeks for every mama. Postpartum depression can be a terrifying thing for Mom, Dad, and Baby, and sadly most women avoid seeking help when they should because they are either embarrassed or they simply cannot afford to see a therapist. If you are a family member or a close friend, perhaps include a voucher in the baby shower card that says, “Redeemable for post-delivery counseling.” If Mom or Dad already has a trusted counselor, go ahead and contact the office directly to notify them that the next session is on you.
Parenthood Gift Idea #4: Child Care
Babysitters do not come cheap. Chances are that after a few weeks, Mom will be ready for a little break to go out shopping or to have tea or to have a good cry (refer to Gift Idea #3). Slip a couple of coupons for “free babysitting” into her shower gift card. If the family already has a regular babysitter, contact him or her directly to pre-pay for services. Be sure to follow up a few weeks after delivery to remind Mom that she has child-care credits to redeem.
Parenthood Gift Idea #5: Stamps and Return Address Labels
Baby showers are memorable celebrations, and a grateful mom-to-be will likely want to send thank you cards to all her generous well-wishers. You can give her a head start by putting together a basket complete with thank you cards, envelopes, stamps, and a pretty pen. You can even go the extra mile by having some custom return address labels printed with the family’s name just for the occasion. She can also use them to send out birth announcements after the baby is born.
Parenthood Gift Idea #6: Professional Newborn Photo Session
Speaking of birth announcements, a professional family photo session is the perfect keepsake gift. Granted, this can be pricey, so perhaps go in on this one with the baby shower hosts, a Bible study group, or a few work colleagues. This timeless and priceless idea is sure to be on this mom’s top favorite list of baby gifts.
Parenthood Gift Idea #7: Audible.com Subscription
While Mom and Baby spend the first several weeks becoming a nursing couple, a new mother can easily start to feel isolated and uninspired. Give her something to keep her occupied during long feeding/rocking sessions with an audio book subscription along with a list of your favorite parenting book titles (a few inspiring, a few practical, and a few just to make her laugh). Here are a few of my favorites:
- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
- Operating Instructions by Anne Lammott
- Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross
- Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
Parenthood Gift Idea #8: Something Just for Dad
It is called “The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expecting Parents” because Dad had a crucial role to play in this whole event too. Many times, Dad’s needs get overlooked amidst crucial discussions like how to choose the right lactation consultant. Give Dad something that only he would enjoy — a magazine subscription for his favorite pastime or a goodie basket filled with Game Day foods like Rotel cheese dip, Ruffles, chicken wings, a pack of Double Stuff Oreos and his favorite two-liter. Either one would be a thoughtful gesture that he is sure to love.
Parenthood Gift Idea #9: Sibling Attention
While everyone in the house is adjusting to the new addition, it can be an especially difficult time for siblings. Mom and Dad are inevitably consumed with the needs of their newborn, and yet siblings still need someone to take them shopping for new rain boots or to chaperon their upcoming field trip to the farm. Make yourself available to the older kids in the family by offering to take them out to their favorite restaurant or taking them to see a movie of their choice. This will give Mom and Dad a break, and it will help a brother or sister who might be feeling a tad bit uncertain about the new home-invader.
Parenthood Gift Idea #10: Transportation
This can include temporary carpool service for older children to church, school, and extracurricular activities. Like meals and grocery runs, this is a welcomed service for newly pregnant moms who struggle just to get off the couch and postpartum moms that have yet to master getting everyone out of the house and to a destination on time. Most women who have had a Cesarean birth are not able to drive for the first several weeks after delivery. You can offer to pick her up to run some errands if she’s just dying to get out of the house, or you can always offer to run her errands for her. Either way, free taxiing is always appreciated.
Whether Mom and Dad are first-timer, veteran, adoptive, or foster parents, adding to a household can be both thrilling and daunting for many families. Many parents either cannot anticipate some of their needs before their little one arrives or they don’t want to burden their friends or family with requests beyond the gift registry. You can stay one thoughtful step ahead of them by making practical and/or extra special provision with one of these gift suggestions.
Let’s add to this list. What are some of your favorite new parent gifts?