Best baby gifts, IMHO

Given the incredible baby boom among my friends and family lately, I have been thinking a lot about the best and most useful kinds of gifts you can get for a new parent, especially a first-time one. When I think about all the stuff we’ve acquired since we had Harper it’s pretty overwhelming. But only a few things have been truly useful over and over again.

This list represents super helpful universal gifts that you could give someone, even that person who already has everything. Most are really affordable and some may be life-changing!

• Carter’s jersey baby blankets (top left)
The super popular Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets are great, but we ended up using these jersey blankets a lot more, and still do. They come in really cute designs and you can usually find them for a reasonable price at places like Marshall’s and Burlington Coat Factory.

• IKEA bath towel
It has the worst name ever — Stanka — but this towel is cute, gender neutral and super thick considering its $8 price tag.

• Carter’s wash cloths
These are the perfect combination of soft, thin and adorable. Carter’s also makes a discounted version for Target stores.

• Burt’s Bees baby shampoo and body wash
I love this one because it’s gentle and smells great. We use it for bubble bath, too. One bottle lasts a looong time.

• Bath toy set
Bath toys are also a common gift, but I absolutely loved the Very Hungry Caterpillar set. It comes with a cute little book and some squirty animals. So sweet!

Honest Company wipe travel packs
We did the Honest bundle for a while, and in the end it was more than we needed to buy regularly. But it helped me discover these handy travel packs of wipes, which I have shoved in every diaper bag, car pocket and purse I have. They’re also available for $1 each at Target now.

• Planet wise wet bags
These are an absolute must! And it doesn’t hurt to have a few in different sizes. We used them for cloth diapers when we were out and about, and also as a diaper pail for the cloth ones at home. They’re great for holding peed-on clothes during potty training. We probably washed our diaper pail one about 200 times and it’s still going!

• Triple paste ointment
We had very few issues with diaper rash until one period when we could not find anything to help heal a rash that lasted for weeks. We even had a prescription cream! Finally another mom told me about Triple Paste. It’s expensive, about $20 a jar, but it was the only thing that worked for us. I’m a huge fan now.

• Forehead thermometer
Another thing I didn’t know existed until I had a kid. You do not want to mess around with trying to get a temperature from a kid’s underarm or butt when they’re feverish and squirmy. This works with one firm swipe across the forehead. We use it for ourselves now!

Vibrating teether
This feels so good on their gums when they’re teething. The freezer ones are a pain and they didn’t work for us anyway. 

Aveeno baby sunscreen
This sunscreen turned out to be my favorite. A lot of the eco-friendly ones are hard to rub in or leave a chalky residue. But this one goes on really smooth (a plus with a wiggly baby). It’s also really nice to have a sunscreen stick in your purse or diaper bag, just in case. 

• Baby Bjorn or any rubberized bib
Bibs are a dime a dozen as far as shower gifts go. I have a huge pile of them I’ve never used. But these genius bibs with the little trough at the bottom are amazing. They catch all the food goo and then you can wash them out in just a few seconds. 

Placemat for restaurants
This $5 investment will save you so many headaches when you go out to eat. It folds up pretty small in a diaper bag and then you just roll it out on the table and let the kid make a mess on it. It has raised edges to catch any goop. 

• Other feeding items:
Lifefactory glass bottles with sippy caps – We love that these come with a protective sleeve. And when your kid ages out of breastmilk, you can fill the bottles with something else and use the sippy caps instead of nipples. 
Evenflo old-school glass bottles – If you’re bothered by the plastic bottles that come with a Medela breast pump, you can screw these into the pump instead. 
Mesh feeders – These are perfect for baby’s first solid foods. You might need a few once they get teeth!
Snack catchers – I was so excited to discover these. They cut way down on spilled goldfish and Cheerios. 
plastic silverware – We learned that you can never have too many spoons, so just get a whole bunch so they’ll last you a while. IKEA has a nice larger set for toddlers. 
BabyBjorn no-spill cups – wish I’d known about these sooner.

Sun hat with a chin strap
Maybe that sounds obvious, but you definitely don’t want yours to blow away. And you’ll find yourself needing that sun hat a lot if you have a summer baby. 

• Robeez soft shoes
These were the shoes that helped Harper learn to walk and they were wonderful. They slip on over chubby feet and they come in all sorts of adorable designs. Don’t bother getting anything less than a 6-12 month size. They are perfect for that new-walking window of time.

• Slim-fit pajamas with zippers
Do not make the mistake of getting tons of pajamas with snaps. That is such a pain! Always go with zip pajamas. Carter’s makes snug fit pajamas that we really liked. Target’s Circo brand also sells them up to 12 months, I think. And of course if you can afford Hanna Andersson pjs, go for it. 

Hopefully that gives you some ideas next time you need to buy a gift. It’s also a good reminder for myself, now that we’ll have a baby again soon. There are SO MANY products to wade through. It really helps to focus on the things you actually need. 

*More on this topic: useful and not-so-useful items and helpful newborn stuff. Those are more for planning your own registry.