Before I had my first son I had images of him dressed in coordinated outfits paired with cute little shoes and a matching hat to complete the look. I shopped accordingly for baby gifts for friends.
Oh how wrong I was!
It turns out newborns wear approximately 28 outfits a day, and have very little patience for shoes or hats. In reality, I barely had time to dress myself, let alone coordinate an Instagram-worthy outfit for my son.
Needles to say, since having kids my thoughts on gift giving have changed. While I will still jump at any opportunity to buy gorgeous girls clothes (I have two boys), I now tend to focus on more practical gifts.
These are some of the most useful gifts I received as a new mum (and a few I wish someone had given to me!)
When you have a new baby, self care is often the first thing to go out the window. My son was a very unsettled newborn and spent a good proportion of the day screaming, and the rest of it feeding or otherwise attached to me. Time to look after myself was non-existent.
I desperately needed some space at the end of the day and I’d rarely had the chance to shower or even dress before visitors arrived. One of the best gifts that some of my friends gave me was free time! They didn’t come over to visit the baby and expect me to entertain them. They came over, held my son and sent me to have a shower, or took him for a walk while I slept. They gave me their TIME and it meant the world to me.
As an added bonus this gift is completely free.
Pre-cooked meals to store in the freezer
My friends and I have made it a bit of a ritual that whenever a new baby is born, we do up a meal roster. A different person brings over a meal each day for a couple of weeks after mum and bub come home. You end up with a stockpile in your freezer and you don’t need to think about cooking for that first little while. It is honestly the best thing ever!
To set up the roster, we use Take Them a Meal which is free and lets you see who’s bringing what and when. It will also send a reminder out to the meal giver. Alternatively, you could use google docs or some other shareable online spreadsheet.
Help with the washing
Babies create a lot of washing. They may look small, but size can be deceptive. There will always be washing to do and I am yet to meet a new mum who won’t be grateful for help hanging it out or folding a load.
I know I wasn’t good at accepting offers of help but I certainly wasn’t going to stop anyone who started hanging clothes or folding mount washmore. My mother in law was great at this, I’d put on the kettle and turn around to find her pulling clothes off the line and folding them up. Totally be the guest that does this!
This was actually one that I arranged for myself after my second baby. Having had a fairly challenging first child, I was prepared for the worst with bub number two. In reality he was a walk in the park in comparison, but I was still super thankful I’d arranged a cleaner for those first few months.
I chose a lovely lady who was also a mum, and was happy to deal with a house that looked like a bomb site and didn’t bat an eyelid at finding me half dressed with a boob hanging out on the couch. She was awesome!
If you’ve got the cash (but maybe not spare time), arrange a cleaner or a voucher for a cleaning company. Check for a time that suits the new mum and make sure the cleaner isn’t one that requires the house to be immaculately neat before they clean.
Care for older children
If this isn’t their first bub, and you are a close friend or family member who knows their other child well, then a great gift for any new mum is to take any other kids off their hands. Offer to pick them up from school or kindy, take them to the park or out to a movie and generally keep them occupied.
Help with an older sibling is often a huge relief for new mums, especially if they’ve had a caesarean and are unable to drive. Make it as easy as possible for mum by feeding them and dropping them back after the playdate.
Related: C-Section Recovery Explained
As a side note, don’t add to the chaos by bringing your own children over and letting them run riot in the new mum’s house. You’re unlikely to be invited back…
Baby first aid kit
If you want to buy an actual “thing” rather than gifting your time or other services, then a baby first aid kit might be the way to go.
It’s invariably the case that the first time you need a thermometer, Zinc cream for diaper rash, a snot sucker or baby Panadol is at 3 am on a Sunday night. It isn’t the sort of thing you necessarily purchase as part of your baby shopping but they certainly become essential when you have a 12-week-old who’s screaming the house down.
Encouragement and a shoulder to cry on
Every new mum will have days when they feel like they are a crappy mum and nothing they do is working. Be there with a shoulder to cry on and plenty of encouragement. There is nothing quite like hearing from a fellow mum that you’re a great mum and you’re doing a wonderful job.
While you’re at it, bring chocolate. And wine.
More ways to enjoy life with a newborn:
- Your Guide to Bathing a Newborn
- Most Common Questions About Newborns, Answered By a Paedatrican
- New Mum Life: 10 Things I Rely on to Get Through the Day
Image: Michelle Thompson- Laing