I recently wrote a blog cataloging all the many completely useless items I had bought in anticipation of my little bundle of joy. A room full of items I would never end up using or would try to use only to realize that I didn’t need a designated, expertly marketed, thingamabob, to help me change my baby’s diaper, bathe him, or put him to sleep.
The fault is not entirely my own. I was reminded of this when my friend read my original blog post, and asked me a simple question – what about all the other stupid shit you got as baby gifts?
She was SO right. Yes, I was overly eager when I began shopping, but the fault also lay with my lovely family and friends. All those very well-meaning people who, invariably, ended up either getting me 500 of the same item, or who got caught up in the amazing marketing of completely useless items.
We couldn’t be alone, could we, my friend and I? So, I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I took to twitter and asked my Tweeps to weight in! Looks like we were many.
And so, here I present to you, dear followers, a list of stupid shit you should NOT buy your friends who are expecting.
(PS- if there’s a gift registry, and stupid stuff has been listed on there, you’re totally off the hook, just buy whatever the parent’s want. At the very least they’ll be happy and thankful until they realize how useless the item they requested was!)
If you’re going to be a generous friend and invest in your friend’s baby’s new/future wardrobe, here are a few things to consider.
For the love of all that is holy, don’t buy anything that is hand-wash or dry-clean only, and it better not require any ironing. When you have a colicky, puking, shitting, pissing, and spit-upping newborn or infant, the last thing you want to do is add an extra annoying step to your already gigantic mountain of laundry.
Ain’t no one got time to stand at the sink and carefully caress the cashmere baby cardigan covered in baby poop, that you decided to gift. Please, if you love us, don’t make it harder on us.
Think seasons versus age when purchasing clothes. I know that you’re excited and figure I’ll probably be gifted a bunch of newborn clothing, so you would rather get the size up to help me out down the line.
Or maybe there was an insane sale on summer clothing so you went HAM! Good for you! But if you’ve just gifted my newborn (born in the summer) an adorable set of shorts and tshirt meant for a 6month old, then you just rendered your purchase useless – my kid will be 6months old in the dead of Canadian winter. He’s never going to get the opportunity to wear them.
Or, hell, even the reverse – if we’re in summer, and you’re purchasing newborn clothing, I sure as hell don’t need a newborn sized snowsuit… the plan is to feed my child sufficiently so that he grows by winter.
Clothing for newborns and infants (jeeze even toddlers) is also all about practicality. I need to be able to get that little squirmy, screaming, bundle of joy into his clothes as fast as humanly possible. Anything with tiny little buttons (not snaps, freaking buttons) or buttons on the back is of no use to me.
By the time I’ve dressed my child in this article of clothing, he’s been screaming his head of for at least 15 minutes, I’ve started to hyperventilate and completely stress sweat through my shirt. To top it off, neither one of us is thankful when he’s shat through his diaper, 5 minutes after I’ve finished stress dressing him, and I need to repeat the process in reverse in order to change him. We’re both traumatized at this point.
On the topic of inconvenient clothing – really anything that isn’t a onesie or a zippered PJ is rendered useless at the newborn – infant stage, at least until they’re able to sit on their own. Even when they’re sitting fancy clothing is inconvenient – lets say I would personally avoid it until they’re able to get around on their own.
My biggest pet peeve was dressing my son in an adorable outfit, only to have it ride and scrunch up under his armpits the second I lifted him up. It served no purpose other than pure adorableness (I mean, my newborn doesn’t need freaking suspenders, he’s not even upright yet), they’re great for photo ops and nothing else.
That being said – let the parent decide if they need a cute outfit (A – as in 1) for a photo shoot or special event, don’t gift them adorable clothing that their baby will never even have the opportunity to wear. My son lived in Old Navy onesies until he was like 6 months old, and then it was super simple clothing like sweats (shorts according to season) and t-shirts (long and short sleeved). So, err on the side of practical if you insist on gifting clothing.
Finally – tiny little articles of clothing – such as baby socks and scratch mitts for newborns. The only time I used baby socks was when I used them INSTEAD of the scratch mitts that wouldn’t stay on my son’s hands, and the only time I needed to do that was when I didn’t have a onesie that came with mitt arms.
I can’t even contribute to the first one in this section – because I’ve never even heard of the ridiculousness that is baby jewelry.
Who thought it was a good idea to invent, let alone gift, tiny itty bitty gold baby jewelry? I mean, there’s all this information about SIDS out there, and we don’t even put blankets or crib bumpers in our baby’s cribs and bassinets, but we’re okay with baby rings and bracelets? DUDE, they put EVERYHING in their mouths. This is not a good gift. I’m sure you thought it was thoughtful, adorable, extravagant, generous, whatever – but its so impractical and frankly dangerous, just… just don’t.
Pee Pee Tee Pees. Not going to lie, at first I thought this was the most ingenious gift I had ever received. I have NO boy babies in my family and I was panicked at the thought of having to change a boy diaper. I figured the pee pee tee pee would save me from the unwanted golden showers. Nope – ended up showered, with a tee pee nearly pocking my eye out. Looks like I’m not alone.
Certain items like diapers, diaper creams, body lotions and shampoos are too personal and impractical a gift. I’m sure you mean well, but let the parent get his one. A diaper cake or tower of newborn diapers is not a practical gift, many babies grow out of the newborn diaper stage in a short few weeks (sometimes as little as one). Having a year’s supply of newborn diapers is useless, and wasteful. Let them handle purchases such as this.
Also, try to avoid the hot purchase items such as lovies, baby blankets, and itty bitty titty committee bibs (like the tiny ones that cover nothing – your baby will projectile spit up and hit everything EXCEPT that tiny bib).
I ended up with a million baby blankets, about 5 lovies, and an endless supply of adorable tiny bibs that extolled how my baby was mama’s boy. I still have quite a few blankets that I have never even taken out of their designated drawer (including the one that I spent like 3 weeks crocheting myself, my baby just ended up predominantly using one that was gifted to us by my coworker). My child has never even paid a lovey 3 seconds of attention, despite my efforts. I have a million tiny bibs, I gave up on them by week 2 of motherhood and used swaddling blankets instead. If you’re not sure about what to buy, just avoid this category all together.
Finally, if you’re set on gifting within the accessory category, please take into consideration who you are giving the gift to. For instance, if the mother or father happens to live in a smaller space, then maybe reconsider the giant baby bathtub (that wont even fit in their adult sized bath tub – or hell, what if they have a shower stall?). Don’t gift an accessory that can’t be packed away or made more compact (like toys and/or swings and play pens that aren’t foldable), babies come with a lot of STUFF, the less space it takes up the better. And, for the love of god, don’t gift a 7ft tall tree as a baby gift (I was just as shocked as you when I read this tweet).
If you’re purchasing for a baby shower – then you’re pretty much purchasing a toy for a newborn. Don’t bother. Anything that’s labeled as a toy for 0-3 months is going to be useless. That baby is not going to have the motor, visual, or mental skills to play with that toy. By the time he is able to play with it, it won’t be “age appropriate” anymore.
Don’t buy gifts that are age inappropriate in reverse either – a giant stuffed animal that is 10 times the size of said newborn, or a giant puzzle, will not be played with until they are much older, therefore taking up room and gathering dust until such a time comes that they can actually enjoy the toy.
Finally – noisy toys, it doesn’t matter what age you’re gifting for. If you’re going to give a noisy toy as a gift, then expect some SERIOUS revenge from that parent. Just warning you (I was totally guilty of this one, sorry to my dear dear cousin, I didn’t know any better)!
Lastly, don’t make it personal. Some parents, especially first-time parents, are particular about the look of their nursery and the décor within their home. Gifting an item, such as personalized art work, puts an already stressed and tired new parent in the very uncomfortable position of having to smile in your face, while hating you behind your back. They definitely don’t have the time, or the energy, to whip out your gift whenever you come to visit because they can’t regift it (personalized), and can’t throw it out for fear of hurting your feelings. Not everyone has the same tastes, so try not to gift décor.
Other generalized advice I seemed to get from questioning people online and my in-real-life friends (weird to say that, since I consider both my real friends), was that if you’re really in doubt, a gift card or money goes a long way. It allows the parent the opportunity to spend that money where they need it most, whether it be on size appropriate diapers, or on seasonally appropriate clothing.
Well, hope that helps some of you in search of gifting ideas. Happy hunting!