I have been to my fair share of baby showers, but until I had my own children I never really knew what to get a first time mom. Sure, I always showed up with a couple of adorable outfits, but they just seemed to blend in with the 3,000 other adorable outfits the mom-to-be would receive that day. I wanted to get her something useful, that could really help her out – but I just didn’t know what that was.
Now I consider myself some sort of quasi-expert on the subject, having two children of my own and a third on the way. Through the years I have figured out what is really useful and have added those items to my mental checklist for future first-time-mom gift giving.
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If you’re interested in seeing a more comprehensive list of everything Mom and Dad will need after the birth of their little one, check out my post What You Really Need For a New Baby (includes a FREE printable)!
This is, by far, the best $100-something we have spent on a new baby – and yes, one device has lasted both and will be used for the third. It has saved our sanity and as much of our normal sleep patterns as possible with a newborn in the house. This little device clips on to the baby’s diaper, below the belly button, and detects extremely minor movements – including breathing. If the baby does not move/breathe within 15 seconds, the monitor vibrates to rouse the child. If the baby still doesn’t move/breathe after an additional 5 seconds, the device sounds a (loud) audible alarm.
Our first child did unfortunately experience many non-breathing episodes, and this device allowed us to be immediately alerted so that we could manually rouse him. Without it, we would have never slept in favor of checking on him every few minutes – and who knows if/when he would have roused himself. Fortunately the device never once alarmed for our second child, yet we continued to use it anyway for peace of mind.
Unlike baby movement monitors that are placed under the mattress, this one is portable and can be taken anywhere the child goes; we have used it on long road trips, for example. Any new mom who is suddenly responsible for a new tiny life will appreciate the comfort of having this monitor alert her to any potential issues.
So this is going to sound gross, but bear with me. This product allows you to, ahem, suck boogers out of your baby’s nose. I know, I know. But there are filters so that the boogers are going nowhere near your mouth and no germs nor mucus is transferred to you – simply out of your baby’s nose.
This is one of those items you would never think to purchase until you have a baby of your own, up miserable in the middle of the night because she literally cannot clear her nose. Let me be frank – the bulb aspirators don’t do squat. The only item that works is this. The new mom in your life will be amazed at the snot and mucus that gets sucked out of that tiny little nose.
This product is a must-have, and I have already purchased a new one for my baby-on-the-way.
Most expecting moms don’t think about things like baby flat head syndrome. But, it exists (really – look up Plagiocephaly). And logically its existence makes sense. The top medical recommendation to reduce the chances of SIDS are to ensure that your baby is put to sleep on his back every. single. time. Well, combine that with a baby’s soft head that doesn’t fully harden until 9-18 months of age, and it’s no wonder that flat head syndrome is an issue.
The treatment for Plagiocephaly isn’t the most convenient, and is not always completely effective. Babies with severe cases must wear specially made helmets that attempt to mold the head back to a rounder shape. The helmets aren’t cheap either, costing up to $4000 or even more.
All that to say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These head support cushions help to relieve pressure on the skull due to their unique cut-out designs. The mother can lay her new baby on these supports for every nap, every stroll in the stroller, and even in the car seat to drastically reduce the risk of flat head syndrome. We began using the product when we noticed a bit of flatness on our first baby’s head, and it soon rounded out. We then used it consistently with our second who never experienced an issue. Besides the physical benefits, the cushion simply looks comfortable for the baby.
You might think that by now I would have swaddling mastered. Well, apparently I’m a really slow learner because to this day I cannot perfect the art of swaddling – a baby’s arm or leg is always escaping. Enter the SwaddleMe Infant Wrap. I don’t even bother trying anymore – I just use these exclusively. Think of it as Swaddling for Dummies. You place the baby’s legs into the pouch and then velcro the wings over the arms and body. Voila! Airtight swaddle is now complete for a deeper baby sleep.
Now maybe your mom-to-be friends are more dexterous than I am. But even if so, why not make their lives a bit easier? Maybe their spouses or babysitters are more like me and can benefit. Maybe they just want to make sure that the bedtime swaddle is more secure than the ones during the day. Either way, I guarantee that these swaddles will be used again and again. I still have the ones I used on my first baby – and they’re still in great shape to use on baby number three.
An oldie but a goodie. Every single mother can benefit from one, if not more, Boppy pillows. I have used this product as a seat pillow while healing from childbirth, as back support, as a nursing positioner, as a makeshift cradle for the baby on the couch next to me, and as a tummy time prop positioner. In fact, I am using it even now during pregnancy to support my belly as I sleep. I am sure that there are 1,001 other uses for this product as well.
Don’t worry about the mom-to-be already having or receiving one – the more the better in this case! I currently have no fewer than four that I stash all over the house for different purposes. There are a variety of covers available, and all are easily washable.
This product is ideal for bathing an infant. Most tubs are made of a hard plastic and need to be balanced over a sink or placed in the bathtub (requiring bending). Then the parent must use one hand to support the child so that she can be bathed with the other. This bath, in contrast, is made of a soft foam material that fits nicely over any sized sink. The best part is that the baby is cradled within the foam so that both hands are free for bathing.
Once bath time is over, the bath can simply be rinsed off and hung up to dry. Easy-peasy and great for limited space (vs. the large plastic toddler tubs that subsequently took over our bathrooms). Most importantly, it just feels safe – the baby isn’t sliding around a plastic tub and is laying comfortably and snugly throughout bath time. This is definitely a must-have product for any mom, and I will be purchasing my second one as well (first was still in great shape, but unfortunately misplaced).
Of all the baby books I’ve received or purchased over the years, this is the only one that I continue to refer to time and time again. In fact, I just recently purchased the updated version. It is the ONLY book I will be purchasing this pregnancy.
What makes this book so great? It spells out, in detail, what new parents should and should not be spending their money on. From cribs to car seats to strollers, diapers, breast pumps, and more, this is a true comprehensive resource about all baby purchases. Every product is graded on an A+ through F scale, and is bucketed into Good, Better, and Best categories. Pricing information is accurate and it even provides tips on where to purchase products for the best deals. Safety ratings are included along with honest and detailed reviews for each product.
For a first time parent, the plethora of available baby products is simply overwhelming. This book helps navigate the chaos, providing clear and thorough recommendations and reviews. I will continue to use this above any other baby book, and imagine that most other moms or moms-to-be would feel the same.
While there are many other useful products to consider, these are the ones that are my go-to gifts based on trial, error, and my own experience. I believe that every product listed here will be used frequently and provide value to the mom-to-be. A more comprehensive list of EVERYTHING a new mom will need is included in my post What You Really Need For a New Baby. What are some other favorites that you have?