The beginner's guide to buying gifts for parents of a newborn

Everyone is touched by any thoughtful gift, but naturally the more thought the more welcome the gift might be. Here are a few tips: 

Flowers

Normally you can't get enough of them, but take a breath before you pick up the phone to Interflora. Most hospital wards are too hot to support flowers for very long, also getting hold of vases isn't easy. One new mother said: "I found myself chopping the top off an Evian bottle to try and keep my beautiful flowers alive": Hardly the thing you need when you've the stress of a new baby to worry about. Once home dealing with large bouquets takes time, energy and patience - commodities that most new parents don't have much of. If you feel you must send flowers do make sure they come in a ready made container and are low maintenance. Leave it a week or so before you send them, so that the first wave of flowers will have died, the parents will have some vases left and life will have settled down a bit. But as our survey shows, there are plenty of great alternatives to consider. If you want to send something in a basket check out things like food hampers (very welcome when trying to survive on hospital food/feed hungry visitors). It may be also that flowers are often sent because people want to send something as soon as they hear the good news. But as one person said: "These days with the net there are so many other things you can send instantaneously - food, drink, even books and toys." 

Time/help

Ready made meals, babysitting vouchers, a cleaning service all show that you really know what those first few months are going to be like. Use your imagination - anything that makes life easier and shows you care. One person commented: "The best gifts are those with a personal touch - you can't beat a basket of goodies full of the things you like or haven't been able to have through your pregnancy." 

Practicalities

Do they have a hand food processor, a raincover for their pram, a mechanical swing, a clip on highchair - do they even know that they'll need one? Check in advance if this sort of thing would be welcome or give vouchers for the local large department store. "I just wish people had consulted a little before buying things for our new baby - we ended up with four mobiles - all lovely but slightly more than we needed." 

Pampering

It doesn't have to be a day at The Sanctuary (though that would, of course, be nice - coupled with babysitting) but some nice shower gel or smellies for the poor exhausted mum will always be welcome.

A couple of further things to bear in mind: 

Siblings

It makes new parents' lives much easier if, when you descend to pay homage to the newborn, you don't forget the siblings. If at all possible, take them a gift too. This doesn't have to be expensive - a magazine, some stickers, a lollipop - it really is the thought (or in fact the wrapping paper usually) that counts. 

Thank yous

Please be patient. Rest assured that your gift was welcome, but unless you're extremely lucky - or the parents are blessed with an unusually easy child - your gift may not get an instant response, and in some cases it may get no response at all (particularly if the gifts have been flowing in but no-one's bothered to write down who sent what). Try not to be offended by the late or non-arrival of a thank you note, or the fact that when/if it does arrive it's a very vague thanks for your non specific gift. Instead congratulate yourself on your wisdom and understanding and take round another bottle/meal to help the poor souls out.

Last updated: almost 2 years ago