Baby Gift Do’s and Don’ts, or Why New Parents Can Buy Their Own Diapers

I love the heck out of my sweet babies, but I don’t want any more of them. I’m done. As much fun as it is to make bottles all day and lose sleep and go broke and have no life at all, I think I’ll pass on number three. Gosh, I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself. What’s today’s date, anyway….?

Unlike me, the majority of my friends know how to use birth control properly. So while I’ve been up to my elbows in dirty diapers for over five years now, most of them are relatively new to it or haven’t even begun their adventures in permanent babysitting yet. Like many people my age, I find myself frequenting baby showers all year long.

Since I’m not planning to have any more kids, the whole baby thing is going to be a distant memory soon. So I’m putting my two cents in on baby gifts now while I still know what I’m talking about. Who knows? In a few years maybe they’ll invent a changing table that actually changes the freaking baby for you. Then obviously all of my gift suggestions will be obsolete. Until that day comes, however, refer to the list below for my two cents worth of the five best baby gift “do’s” and five worst baby gifts “don’ts.”

Disclaimer: if you ever purchased a gift featured on my “don’ts” list for me, then I apologize in advance for this reality check. I did give pause before writing this blog because I don’t want to come off unappreciative or bratty to anyone. But I think people expect (and deserve) only the most brutal honesty from my blogs. So sorry, I gotta give the people what they want!

Truthfully, I barely even still remember who got me what. I may not have even known to begin with. Pregnancy brain + a baby shower spent distractedly opening a smorgasbord of baby gifts while suppressing the urge to scarf down every plate of food in the room and then lie down on the nearest couch to take a long nap = how on earth am I going to write a bunch of personalized thank you cards after this? Brutal honesty, remember…..

Can I go eat now?

Can I go eat now?

Conversely, if you ever purchased any of the gifts off the “do’s” list for me, please disregard my last statement. I totally remember everything. Loved the gift; thanks, um, whoever you are!

Also, you’ll notice I haven’t listed any large or expensive gifts. If there’s a $400 car seat or rocking chair or baby monitor on a registry and you’re the proud grandma-to-be, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Go ahead and whip out that AmEx, granny. It’s spoiling time.

Baby Gift Don’ts:

1. Bath Robes – Yes, they are cute. Sometimes the hoods are shaped like little duck beaks or crocodile mouths, and they come with little green and yellow matching fuzzy slippers. Adorable, right? Wrong. Because a baby can’t look cute in something he NEVER wears. Nobody uses those stupid robes! Like any sane person is going to shove some wiggling, slippery infant into an annoying terrycloth robe thingy with arms and slippers and a damn tie around the waist, when you can just throw a towel around him and get it the hell over with.

2. Handmade Blankets – It’s about the sentiment, and I do get that. You’ve poured blood, sweat, and several hours of soap opera watching or subway riding into knitting the perfect, colorful, homemade baby blanket for someone’s little bundle of joy. But I have some bad news for you, Martha Stewart. You could have saved yourself a lot of time and carpal tunnel syndrome by simply marching into a Babies R Us and grabbing a package of brightly colored onesies. Because, unlike your slightly itchy blanket, those onesies will actually be worn regularly. And no one is going to feel like shit throwing them out when they’re no longer being used.

I know it sounds harsh, and occasionally you do get one you really like. Even I have ONE that I love from an old coworker whose sweet grandmother knitted my son a blanket that matched the colors of my then-deployed husband’s cammies. It would be a cold day in hell before I ever got rid of that blanket. See? I do have a heart. But seriously, don’t make a blanket for anyone. It’s really not likely to tug on anyone’s heartstrings (unless their husband is away at war or something).

3. Wrong Season/Size Baby Clothes – Little D was born at the beginning of the winter, after we had a particularly cold and snowy winter the year before. So it was no surprise that I received several snowsuits before I had her. By several, I mean FIVE. It ended up being one of the warmest winters on record here in NYC and we saw not a single inch of snow that whole year.

But I actually liked the snowsuits; they were cute and Little D did wear some of them. What I found strange was the fact that one of the snowsuits I received was a size 6-9 months. I was due at the end of November, so six months later was….. April. Nine months later…. July. Didn’t need to be a math genius to figure out that the baby wasn’t going to need a thick, fleece snowsuit at the end of spring.

For the record, I ended up donating all of those snowsuits to Hurricane Sandy victims. There’s that I heart I told you about again!

4. Infant shoes – Fact: infants don’t walk. Fact (sort of): most infants don’t like having shoes on their feet anyway. Baby shoes are good for pictures, for the first ten minutes of a party, or maybe for a trip to grandma’s house. And also for ending up in the lost-and-found at shopping malls. But that’s it. Besides, there is not a pair of shoes on earth that is cuter than a pair of tiny baby feet. Free those little piggies, I say!

5. Diapers – I know a box of diapers seems like the most practical gift ever. Babies need LOTS AND LOTS of diapers, right? How can you go wrong? Aren’t they little shit machines? Perhaps, but no baby needs multiple mega-super-giant boxes of newborn diapers. Even if a baby really poops ten times a day for their whole first month of life, that’s still only about 300 diapers. Those huge newborn diaper boxes can contain over 200 diapers each (there’s that pesky math again). Don’t ever buy anyone newborn diapers. Or even size one or size two, for that matter. Actually, just don’t buy diapers at all. Babies outgrow their diapers faster than you can say “I changed the last one, babe!” Leave the diaper-buying to the people who know how big their kid’s ass really is, and go buy a boppy pillow or something instead.

Baby Gift Do’s:

1. Sippy Cups – Seems so simple and easy to buy sippy cups as a gift, or at least as an add-on to a gift. Yet people rarely seem to do it. Kids use sippy cups much longer than baby bottles. I admit that Little M is five and still uses them. You might think that’s a bad idea, but I think my couch has less orange juice stains than yours. So there. Now go buy someone a sippy cup.

And make sure it’s Disney, because they always have only two pieces to wash. You’re welcome, if you didn’t know that little tidbit of info already.

2. Books/Toys/DVD’s – This is another one I don’t see enough of. The mom-to-be will receive at least five of those little play mats or gyms or whatever Fisher Price is calling them these days, but the baby will probably spend fifteen total minutes laying like a blob on the floor and staring blankly up at the spinning octopus light or flapping butterfly wings before space in the house gets tight and the useless things end up in storage for the next kid to never use. Save the $75 they audaciously charge for a glorified floor mat and buy some Little Einstein toys that the baby will actually enjoy playing with eventually.

Books are great too. It might shock you because I rarely give myself an ounce of credit as a decent parent, but I am a huge advocate of introducing books as early as possible. My baby shower for Little D was actually book-themed. I’m kind of a book nerd. Well, I was before I had kids (and this blog) and had time to read, as well as the ability to get through a whole page without falling asleep immediately. But I think books are straight up awesome and kids should always have a bunch of them at home. I definitely don’t read to my kids as often as I should (and there goes my parenting credit), but I do know that it’s pretty helpful when you do.

Oh, and DVD’s also make really good gifts. I love me some Laurie Berkner, she is the true baby whisperer. If you’ve never heard of her and have a baby around that occasionally needs some shutting up, check her out. She’s like musical Benadryl for babies.

3. Baby Wipes – Diapers are a no-no, but baby wipes are a yes-yes. I’m not telling you to go gift-wrap a box of baby wipes or anything, but if you do I can promise that your gift will be more useful than about 80% of the other shit the mom-to-be will get at her shower. Just add the wipes to your gift or toss them in the wishing well. Or screw it, buy a giant box at Costco and wrap it up after all. She won’t be disappointed. It’s impossible to have too many baby wipes; see here for more of my thoughts on that.

4. Quality Thermometer – This is another underrated item that will be used over and over again for years to come. No mom should ever be without a really great thermometer. Kids are germy little virus-transmitters who get sick like a hundred times per year. If the thermometer on the registry is not the best model in the store, go ahead and buy her the better one anyway. She can just return the shitty one. In my experience, crappy thermometers are always breaking or giving the wrong temperature when you really need them to be accurate. Mom-to-be will thank you someday when her kid’s head feels so hot you could bake a casserole on it.

5. Pajamas – I am one pajama-lovin’ mama. I’m a firm believer that pajamas are always a perfect gift for anybody, young or old. And babies? Are in pajamas ALL THE TIME. I mean, if it were socially acceptable to walk around in footie pajamas, wouldn’t you wear them all the time too? Sure, it’s fun to dress the baby up in one of her 2,000 adorable outfits just to run to the pharmacy for more diaper cream and Diet Coke, but those pj’s are just going right back on within ten minutes of coming home. Basically, pajamas are cheaper than regular clothes and will be used wayyyyy more; it’s a total win-win.

So there you have it, my baby gift do’s and don’ts list. Do you agree? Disagree? Think I missed something? Are pissed because you gave me a handmade baby blanket once? Leave a comment and let me know!

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