Want to give the expecting parents something they’ll actually use? Skip the fussy outfits and gift them one of these super practical items.
After having three kids—a toddler and 7-month-old twins—I’ve spent more time than the average person thinking about must-have items for a new mom. A baby shower is a great opportunity to give gifts that are thoughtful and practical, too.
When it comes to new motherhood, there are a few things I’ve found most challenging: feeding, getting out (ie: staying sane), keeping things (and little people) tidy and clean, and taking care of myself (this one is really, really important, too!). If I had to make my registry all over again, here are the essentials I’d put on my list, items I’d add to my wishlist, and a few things I’m so happy I was gifted back in the day.
You’d be surprised just how much stuff you can pack in a diaper bag for a simple trip out of the house. For years, I carried giant packages of wipes everywhere—that is, until I discovered this dispenser, a genius gift for a new mom.
Comfortable Baby Carrier
Everyone will need a carseat and stroller for their baby, but I’ve found that carriers can make a new mama’s life much easier, whether she’d like to pop out of the house for a walk or make a bowl of oatmeal using both of her hands. I regularly used mine to create a standing desk situation at my kitchen counter (to write blog posts unlike this one!) and to get my daily fix of chocolate chip cookies at the corner bakery.
This Sippy Cup with removable handles went everywhere with us once my older daughter was ready to transition away from the bottle. It makes park picnics and restaurant outings—not to mention, dinner at home—stress-free. I’d keep one stashed in a diaper bag, one at grandma’s house, and one in my kitchen.
Feeding and Nursing
Once your baby is ready for solids, you’ll want to protect all those adorable clothes—and your floor. A bib that will catch that sweet potato puree is essential. You can tuck this bib into your diaper bag or purse. It’s even more functional than that: roll it up and slip the used spoon inside, then throw it back into your bag after lunch.
Formula-feeding moms will understand the hassle of hauling around bottles and measuring out powder in a restaurant or on a park bench. (Hi! That was, and still is, me.) This ingenious dispenser makes getting out and feeding mess-free. Because every mama—whether she’s breastfeeding, formula-feeding, or both—should feel comfortable and relaxed taking care of her baby on the go.
A nursing pillow, which looks not unlike a flotation device, was my go-to while learning the ropes of breastfeeding. It’ll make the transition from hospital to home that much more comfortable.
If you’re going to attempt or choose to breastfeed, you’ll need to be prepared with some tricks of the trade. Whether you’ll be pumping at home, in the office, or on the go, you’ll want to keep things sanitary. This handy little set ensures all breast pump parts will be ready for the next pump session.
It’s so important for baby’s bottles to be sparkling clean, but it’s hard to do without the right tools. The Cleaning Essentials Set comes with everything they need—from a bottle brush to tiny brushes for getting in all the nooks and crannies of those little valves. Plus, the Space Saving Drying Rack can hold it all, while saving valuable counter space. For dishwasher safe feeding supplies, this dishwasher basket is a total lifesaver for corralling all the straws and valves and lids.
For Washing and Diapering
Tub Kneeling Mat
Once your baby transitions from the sink to the tub, you’ll find yourself spending hours kneeling beside your baby. This mat is the gift that keeps on giving, and one I’m thankful to have on long nights when eagerly looking forward to a glass of wine (even if it’s on the bathroom floor).
The first time you give your baby a bath, they look so tiny and fragile. Get a collapsible, portable tub like the Splash & Store Bathtub that supports their delicate body. This one has a narrow end for newborns and a wider end for older babies, up to 18 months, so you only need one tub and no fussy inserts. Living in a two-bedroom apartment, I appreciated being able to stash mine away when I wasn’t using it—it collapses flat—and passed it along to another mama-to-be when our babies outgrew theirs and graduated to the regular tub.
Baby skin is the softest, most delicate skin. I prefer a gentle, natural cleanser for the best head-to-toe baby cleansing. I use one with a orange-vanilla scent that’s so intoxicating, I regularly steal it from my kiddos. Perfect for bleary-eyed mornings.
Save the new parents some time by gifting them an all-in-one portable diaper changing station. It’s perfect for stashing in the living room, for when the baby needs a change this instant. (When you know, you know). It comes with a changing mat, and plenty of space for wipes, diapers, lotions, and more. Complete the gift by filling it with all your faves and spare the bleary eyed parents the task of frantically ordering diaper cream.
Something Special for Mom
Most moms expect to get tons of baby stuff, but it’s always nice to treat her to something that’s just for her. Get a gift certificate to her favorite salon (for her first sans-baby pedicure!) or a lipstick made with sustainable ingredients (for all those baby kisses) or something else that's 100% for her.
Plus, get more great baby gift ideas: 7 Unexpected Life-Savers Busy Parents Need on Their Registry, 5 Gifts Parents Didn’t Register For—But Wish They Had, and What Meals and Gifts to Bring New Parents.