There is no better gift recipient for a thoughtful gift to than an expectant mommy-to-be. While some parents will register for baby items, I have a few guidelines that will help if you need to get a baby shower gift on your own.
Several months ago it seemed that every woman in my office was becoming an expectant mother. Seriously – four women became pregnant in the small agency I worked for in a matter of months! Water cooler chat helped me discover what these expectant moms really wanted.
My dad scoffs at this term and asked “What’s wrong with the term unisex?” Semantics aside, giving an item that is gender neutral is always a safe bet. Sonograms to determine the baby’s sex are not always right! A gender neutral gift can be reused if the family has a second child of a different gender. Some parents are adamant about raising their children free of gender stereotypes, so a gender neutral gift will be used by the parents more so than something that is specifically targeted to a boy or a girl.
Babies are increasingly sensitive to what they eat, drink, wear and play with. Natural products are a good choice when thinking about what to get for the newborn. Baby clothes made of 100% cotton allow moisture to evaporate away from baby’s skin, whereas synthetic clothes are not breathable. Synthetic cloth can trap moisture, cause irritation and is often made from chemically produced fibers with added chemical dyes, formaldehyde resins, perfumes, and other chemical treatments. Be aware that 100% cotton does not mean that it is free of dyes and other treatments.
Usable and Practical
One complaint of some handmade (especially knit or crocheted) items is that they are not practical. If a baby blanket or outfit needs to be hand-washed and dried it is unlikely that the parents will get much use out of the item. Make your gift a usable one, not one that will sit untouched like the plastic covered couch at your grandmother’s house. If you choose to make a baby blanket, hat or other clothing, choose yarn or fabric that is machine washable and able to be dried easily. My mom always includes washing instructions with her handmade knit baby blankets.
Listen to the Parent
A friend of mine confided in me that she wished her mother-in-law would just hear her out on ideas for the nursery; instead Grandma went crazy buying a variety of items that my friend really disliked. If you are lucky enough to get to spend time with the expectant parents you are gifting for, lend an ear. You are likely to gain a wealth of information about their plans for the nursery, the baby, and parenting style. The best gift is one that takes into consideration the parent’s point of view. You may not always see the vision of these expectant parents but you can support them in the process.
There is only a brief period in a person’s life where commercialism is not smacking them in the face. The first years of life are a great time to give items that do not have a large commercial appeal. It will not be long before that baby is asking Santa for a Barbie or a Tonka truck, so make the most out of giving items that are handcrafted and made with love in these early years.
I chose to knit blankets for my expectant work friends. I got a quick refresher course in knitting from my mom and had her on the phone for questions that came up so I managed to create a handmade gift that I was proud to give.
Handmade Baby Gift Ideas
If you are not the crafty type or have no time to make a gift of your own, you can always find wonderful handmade baby gifts on Etsy.