Gifts for new parents (or 'what not to do')
I was so happy to get this feedback recently – the idea of new clothes being a bit disappointing really resonated with me, and it makes me so happy that our footprint kits bring joy to new parents!
I was a wreck after my first baby was born, and the flowers and beautiful clothes I was lucky enough to be sent just felt like they were doubling down on my sense of failure – people’s idea of how my life was and the reality were so very far apart. We were definitely not getting round to putting on ‘outfits’ – we were hardly getting dressed. It was freezing January, and both the baby and myself were pretty much house-bound in stained PJs 24-7. There were more flowers than vases, so the beautiful bouquets were jammed in together with some unseen rotting flowers giving a general smell of decay to the monstrous hovel that our house was becoming. This wasn’t about being unappreciative, or lazy, it was being overwhelmed with sleep deprivation and the shock of post-partum recovery with a newborn in permanent residence somewhere about your person for the foreseeable.
This haunts me when I try to think of presents to give friends who've recently had babies... So what did really make a difference?
The best presents I received:
- Chocolate covered brazil nuts. Delicious. Substantial (so you don’t have to keep balancing the baby while you reach for more) and sustaining (to keep mood and energy topped up in the sleepless haze of early-days)
- The friend who came and sat in a chair while I slept on the sofa with the baby on my chest. I know (and knew at the time) that this is not recommended co-sleeping, hence the friend watching me. The memory of those few hours of sleep and her silent ‘getting it’ still make me tear up a bit
- All the second-hand baby stuff. I was so lucky that my sister had a baby a few years before me, and kindly lent me all the snazzy gubbins new babies race through – the pram (sorry, ‘buggy system’), baby bath, newborn sling, white noise machine, moses basket – all of this makes life materially better, but for an average of 22 days before the baby has grown out of it. Lend, pass on, share – there’s a tribe’s worth of baby things in your local network
Anything that helps make memories of those hazy early days (daze?) is a surefire hit. Something to look back on, so when your life contains blocks of sleep and a semblance of sanity again you have tangible mementos of your tiny new baby. So what should you make sure you keep hold of?
- Footprints (well, obviously)
- The baby id tag from the hospital (mine were wonderfully named ‘baby coggle’ in lieu of an actual name)
- At least one beautiful photo of them sleeping. It may feel like they never really sleep, but you'll look back and remember all the extraordinary times and places they just conked out (one surefire tip - whenever family come round to visit, they'll snooze right through it)
- First lock of hair (my daughter was three before we could bring ourselves to do it)
- And when they’re big enough, a height chart. I remember the doorway of my childhood home where we’d inscribed this, and my sadness at leaving it behind when I was 11 and we had to move house, so I’ve screwed a narrow length of oak to the wall to use as our family height chart: if we ever move, we can move it with us!
The greatest gift we can give our friends is patience. Patience, a listening ear, and, in time, babysitting ❤️
So that was my experience, but how about you? What were the best/most memorable/most useful presents you got as a new parent?