Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Motherhood Mondays: 8 gift ideas for new parents

My lovelies, one of the questions readers most often ask is what to give friends who just had a baby. So, I'd like to share eight gifts for new parents. These ideas aren't wacky or offbeat, but they are gifts that parents will adore. (And I'd love to hear your thoughts, too!) Here goes...

Gifts you can mail:

1. A cuddly robe. As a new parent, when you get up (multiple times) in the middle of the night, or at the crack of dawn, it's wonderful to have a cozy robe to wrap around yourself.
2. Massages. Alex and I went for a couples massage (at a cheap walk-in massage place near our house) three weeks after Toby was born. It was honestly the best massage of my life; I still remember how incredibly good it felt. You're so sleepy and your muscles are sore, and it was just wonderful. I remember half falling asleep, which felt dreamy and peaceful. (TMI: My boobs leaked milk on the massage table. After we left, the massage therapist must have been like, What the...? :)
3. Your favorite children's book. New babies are soooooo sleepy, and, to an (impatient) new mama, any sort of playful interaction can seem like a thousand years away. So, I loved one evening when a friend came over with his favorite children's books. It made me so excited for the years ahead with Toby! (Growing up, I loved Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Roald Dahl and Amelia Bedelia, and here are Toby's favorites.)
4. Chocolate-covered strawberries! It sounds kind of random, but chocolate-covered strawberries make a surprisingly wonderful new-mom gift. When Toby was born, my friend Lina sent me a dozen, and I just about died and went to heaven. They were rich and decadent, but also fresh and healthy. She told me they were her favorite gift when she was a new mom, and once I mentioned them in conversation to other new moms, they would all pipe up. ("Euphoric," said Abbey. "The best," said Megan. "Perfect," said Samantha.)
5. An adorable outfit. We had stocked up with cheap basic onesies for Toby, so when friends would bring over adorable outfits for him (that we wouldn't have splurged on ourselves), we were over the moon! I especially love Winter Water Factory.
6. Baby notepads. Many new moms (myself included) find it helpful to record when your baby eats and naps and all of those sweet things, so you can keep track of your emerging schedule. A personalized notepad with her baby's adorable photo would be an endearing and useful gift for a new mama.
Gifts to give in person:

7. Cooking. Food of any kind. When Toby was a newborn, Alex and I were so, so grateful when friends would come over with soups, fresh salads, sandwiches, homemade cookies...It felt delicious and nourishing. (A handy tip: If your friend is breastfeeding, leave out garlic and raw onions, since those ingredients can make newborn babies fussy.)

8. Cleaning up the house. I literally teared up when a friend came over and, without asking, went into the kitchen and did all our dishes. It's so wonderful for people to help around the house when you're a new parent! You just never get to those things. If a friend came over and swept the kitchen floor, did a load of laundry, changed the bedsheets, replaced the toilet paper, and did the dishes, it would be such a joy and gift to the overwhelmed new parents.

A final tip: The gift of no pressure. When Toby was brand new, my good friend in California wrote a lovely congratulatory email to me, and at the end, she said, "Don't respond, go and be with your baby." And it felt SO good to know that I didn't have to do anything but read her lovely words and then turn off the computer. So, consider, at the end of any emails or with gifts that you send, including the words, "No need to respond" or "Don't write a thank-you note. Congratulations again!"

What would you recommend as a gift for friends with new babies? New moms and dads, what gifts do you remember really adoring? I would love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. A beautiful ring for mamas.
P.P.S. Speaking of books, the fantastic non-profit Milk + Bookies provides books to underprivileged children. Read more here.

(Top photo credit unknown; dishes photo by Liv Dueck)