The beginner's guide to buying a gift for a newborn

Of course all gifts are gratefully received, but some just a bit more gratefully than others. To help make sure you make the right choice, check out the recommendations in the survey, but before you do here's a few hints and suggestions from the newborn front line...

Whatever you give, you aren't at this stage going to elicit much response from the little bundle but, as he or she is the star, you want to do something to mark their arrival. Perennial favourites include: 

Toys

Your decision about which toy to give will be affected by whether this is baby number one, two, three or four. First children need new toys (check out our survey of the best toys for under ones for even more ideas), those with siblings need some new things, but parents with houses already overflowing with mobiles, inflatable rings and every noisy electronic toy known to man, won't thank you for adding to the overflowing toy basket.

With regard to cuddly toys, controversial it may be, but mumsnetters' advice is: don't do it. Newborns aren't remotely interested and even the majority of toddlers will only latch on to one or two. Most parents will tell you they have a room full of redundant and space-consuming cuddlies they can't give away, in case the donor comes to visit. 

Books

As above. Chances are if there's a sibling around, there'll already be a copy of Dear Zoo and the Hungry Caterpillar - check ahead or make sure you include a receipt if in doubt and don't write in the book until you're sure it's not a duplicate. Take a look at mumsnet's survey of the best books for other suggestions. 

Practical stuff

Hooded towels, toiletries, blankets etc are all useful. Do check again that fabric is cotton and toiletries won't adversely affect baby's sensitive skin. Fun stuff like bowls and cups with characters from stories will come into their own later. 

Clothes

Let's face it there's nothing more fun than having an excuse to splurge out at Baby Gap, but if you decide to go the clothes route there are a few things to remember:

Whatever you buy make sure you include a receipt and don't be offended if the parents end up changing it. Don't be afraid to ask the parents in advance what they really need. They may have had loads of clothes for age 3-6 months and have nothing for a newborn or vice versa. Don't say: "What shall I buy?" - most folks will be too embarrassed to say - do say: "I've seen some sweet vests/babygros/sleepsuits, which would you prefer and in what size?"

Where possible try and buy 100% cotton. Eczema is more common than you think and many of the lovely fleecy 100% polyester outfits can irritate a baby's skin.

Think about the season. If you're buying something for aged 3-6 months, make sure it's appropriate for the weather - sounds basic, but you'd be surprised.

Think too about practicality - a fab designer suit that makes nappy changing a nightmare because the poppers are in the wrong place will not get much use.

Last updated: almost 2 years ago