It might have been the 18776th teeny, adorable onesie that I had bought for a friend who had just had a baby (I'm starting to think that pregnancy might be contagious once you hit 31, please advise?) that I started to wonder whether I was really being helpful. For me, buying cute little outfits for babies that I would get to cuddle and then hand back to their very tired mums was fun. But for a slightly overwhelmed new mum, well, she might be grateful for the thought, but my outfit might actually just represent more washing. And also more money to be spent in the future, because, boy, little babies sure do grow fast.
As my friend Eleanor tells me, "It's tempting to get overwhelmed by teeny tiny fancy newborn outfits, but in reality they usually get worn once or twice before the bub outgrows them. I prefer practical gifts, like picnic rugs, Wondersuits in size 00 or 0, insulated lunch bags, name labels or pint-sized backpacks for when they start daycare or preschool. Or do something lovely for the mum, like buying her a pedicure voucher and offering to push the baby around while she puts her feet up for half an hour."
Because really, what a new mum really wants is a bit of a break, some sleep (!), to know she's doing OK and that she definitely has back-up. As my friend Fiona says, "In my view, the most treasured gift at the start of a new journey with a newborn is a friend who visits not only to meet the little one but a friend who's there to listen and support you. It's the simplest things, like having a shoulder to cry on when everything feels overwhelming or even just someone making a cup of tea for you that makes all the difference."
So, with that in mind I canvassed some of my friends who are in the midst of new motherhood for their suggestions of the best, most useful and guaranteed to be a hit gifts to give a new mum.
- Digital thermometer
- Cloth nappies or big muslins to use as burp cloths or change mats
- Pram liners
- Washers (apparently you will go through these like they're going out of business)
- Room thermometer night lights (like the Gro-Egg)
- Pop over for a short visit and hang out the washing
- Frozen meals that the family can eat later
- Backpacks for daycare/preschool
- Take the baby away for a little while so that the mum can get a rest
- Something nice for the mum like a pedicure or necessary like a hair cut (and mind the baby for that hour)
- A body oil that will be lovely for stretchmarks
- A sling or wrap for carrying the baby
- Book a cleaner for a 2-hour clean-the-whole-house session (best for good friends who won't get offended!)
- A baby first aid kit
- Linen for the baby's cot
- Clothes that the baby can grow into (buy a few sizes up ahead, as the baby will well and truly be sorted for the first few months)
- A label maker
- Adult conversation about something other than crying, nappy rash or sleep routines