It’s really hard to find a nice gift for a new mother sometimes. Do you get something practical? Sentimental? Is it someone you want to go all out for, or someone you just want to give a small gesture?
Well, here are a few ideas that go beyond the flowers and silver rattles for some kick ass stuff that a new mom will really enjoy.
I’m going to start with the gesture stuff and work my way up. All too often sites and magazines launch into gifts that Jay Z would give someone with a private island, and not something you’d like to give your next-door-neighbour that you only chit chat with over the fence.
I don’t think you can ever go wrong with food – well, I guess you can if you’re a shitty cook but I’m going to leave that to your judgment. Give her something she can pop in the freezer if she’s already overloaded with goodies and give it to her in something she doesn’t have to give back like an oven ready baking dish. If you can, try to make things you can eat with one hand or with just a fork as an extra bonus for someone that's holding a baby a lot.
What’s that you say? You really can’t cook or you live far away? There’s a service called Meal Gifts that will deliver a delicious home-style meal right to her door. It ain’t cheap but it sure beats a giant flower arrangement that does sweet bugger all, plus, they have lasagna. Bring it to mah belly!
If you know they're going the disposable route, a pack of the next size up diapers are often an over looked yet welcomed gift for new parents because there’s always those “shit we’re out of diapers” moments when your stash runs low.
There’s also a wicked service called Diaper Dabbler that will send a sampler pack of different diapers so she can get a feel for which one work for her without buying a whole box.
Cloth diapers are a little trickier because you tend to go with a certain brand, but if you know what she using and want to buy some, by all means, go for it. I knew a couple of people that used cloth and used disposable as a backup, but tread lightly there because some people may take exception to you offering up disposable when they've opted for cloth.
One of the best gifts I ever received was from a friend that is a veteran mom of three. She gave me a little bag filled with a reusable water bottle, trashy magazines, chocolate bars, small bags of almonds, chapstick and a gift certificate to a coffee place I could walk to. I used all of it. All of it.
One of the best things you can give a new mom is your time. If you're a good friend of hers, then there’s nothing better than having someone take you out for a walk, or sit on the couch to chat, or hold your baby while she has a shower. Say something like “I could pop by for a visit next Tuesday or Thursday. If that would work for you let me know what time is convenient and I’ll bring lunch (breakfast, the car so we can go out for a bite).” Just make sure you aren’t adding to her workload. If she’s a really tidy person by nature she may not want you seeing her dirty house and stay up all night cleaning it when she should be napping. If she’s not up to it, leave it alone and opt for something else – there are entire Facebook threads dedicated to asshats that demand to come over and hang out with new parents. Don’t be that asshat.
I also love these beautiful cards that a company called IOU letterpress used to make for a tangible gift of errands, a load of laundry, etc. rather than just saying "call me if you need something". They don't seem to exist anymore but I'm sure you could create your own.
On a side note, if you are the new mom, here's a few tips for handling visitors.
Netflix or Amazon Video would have changed my damn life if I’d had it when my son was born. It wasn't around at the time so I just watched the Food Network. A lot. Then I figured out that I could rent a movie and watch it during the night when I was feeding him. I slept on the couch and he slept beside me in a bassinet. When he’d wake up I would feed him and watch the movie. When he’d fall asleep I would put him back down and pause the DVD. It would have been awesome to have something like Netflix for the round-the-clock schedule of a newborn. You can get a one-month subscription for $8 so it's not a bank breaker either.
Day You Were Born Box:
It’s a really neat keepsake to have a collection of what was going on the day your baby was born. New parents are often kinda busy on that day, so if you pick up newspaper clippings, photos, notes, etc. and leave some places where mom and dad can pop all the odd keepsakes that come along, you'll be saving them a ton of leg work. The original was on spoonful.com but it looks like Disney bought the site and redesigned the page – thanks, Walt – but it looks fairly self explanatory.
If you want something that’s more sentimental than practical (I’m looking at you dads) then you may want to go the keepsake route. I love this initial necklace from Soul Peaces but I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to incredible keepsakes that will remind her that she’s a kick ass mother if you're looking for some more inspiration.
I think subscription boxes are an incredible idea. Gifts, like visitors, often come in a flurry in the beginning but peter out when you are really feeling the toll of parenthood, so these are such a beautiful idea to keep the good times rolling. You can get everything from diapers, to cookies, to clothes and you don’t have to be up on your baby stuff to send them – these guys do all the work for you.
If you’re giving a gift to a new mother who has an older child, consider getting a subscription for them instead. Not only will it occupy the kiddo while mom is getting the hang of the new weeble, it’s a nice reminder to the older child that they still count. I really love these craft boxes from Green Craft Kids and Lego boxes from Pley. They are appropriate for both boys and girls ages 3-8 and have all the goods in the box so you aren't rummaging around for glue with a newborn trying to latch onto your boob.
Pardon? These exist? Why didn’t I know about them when I had my babies?!
A Postpartum Doula is like that newborn pro that comes to the house. She can help you get over breastfeeding hurdles, keep an eye out for post partum mood disorders, and generally provide a hands-on education on mother and infant care.
They aren’t cheap (nor should they be) and run around $20 - $35 from what I can tell, but if you have a large family or a company that is itching to buy you something big, I can’t think of a better gift. Here’s a link to find one in your area.
Give a gift to someone else:
If you're buying for a mom that really has it all, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with helping other moms. For $12 you can buy a newborn checkup from Plan Canada. From Unicef you can buy a baby scale, HIV Test or ever a whole Midwifery Kit to deliver 50 babies - 50 babies!!
It's always nice to congratulate new moms (and dads) on the new addition to their family and help out a little even if the gesture is small. After all, it takes a village to raise a child – and, if you're lucky – a postpartum doula.