What‑Not‑To‑Gift Ideas for New Moms
If you’re a woman between 20 and 50, you’ve probably been here many times: you pay a visit to a new mother, with her new baby—and you’re without a gift! A last-minute scramble seldom leads to a gift that says, “I’m happy for you. Here’s something nice/useful for your baby.” (You’re lucky if it says, “I’m happy for you. I remembered you gave birth.”) Heading to the nearest mother-and-baby store or turning to online shopping (express delivery, obviously) will definitely keep you from turning up empty-handed. But before you swipe your card, consider this: not all gifts are created equal. If you’ve got kids of your own, you probably have more than enough experience of what not to buy. If not, this list – of what never (and we mean ever, ever) to buy an expectant or new mother – might be useful.
Stuffed animals: While giant, cuddly teddy bears or stuffed cartoon characters might seem like perfectly adorable gift ideas for a baby, they really aren’t. Not only are they the ultimate thoughtless gift, the fibres from these toys tend to go everywhere and can be serious choking hazards; in fact, recent research says that in order to avoid SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), it’s essential to keep stuffed toys away from babies younger than six months. Not to mention some babies are terrified of stuffed toys. And who can blame them? You try sharing your bed with an inanimate, furry animal that’s larger than you and stares with creepy plastic eyes, and see how soundly you sleep.
Baby grooming hampers: A basket full of lotions, creams and soaps for a baby might seem like a handy, practical present, but it also tops the list for afterthought gifts. Chances are your friend or relative already has too many of these from other, less considerate friends and relations. Bringing her another simply puts you on the She-didn’t-have-time-to-think-about-what-to-get-me List, and it could take you years to get off it. (Also, who can keep up with which new mothers are obsessively organic-only, prefer imported products, or care for certain scents only? There’s just too much you can get wrong by choosing personal hygiene products for someone else’s baby.)
Expensive newborn outfits: Yes, a teeny tiny tux looks utterly adorable in a store window, and it will probably look even more adorable on your friend’s baby, even if it only gets worn once. But expensive outfits are bad gift ideas for two reasons: Babies grow incredibly fast, and – surprisingly – there aren’t many black tie events for tots. So aside from the commemorative picture, the next time you’ll see this expensive present is on a younger sibling… who will probably throw up on it.
Diapers: Babies poop around the clock, this we know. The number of diapers a baby goes through in a year could fill a small flat. But that doesn’t mean diapers make for good gifts. Parents tend to be particular about what brand of diapers their baby uses, so unless you’re going to ask specifics ahead of time, this category is best avoided, along with wipes. Think of it this way: When was the last time you gifted an adult toilet paper?
Sterling silver cup and rattle: They say money talks. Precious metals might say,”I spent a lot on you,” but they also say, “I didn’t think about what you really like or need.” The usefulness of these items is not very high. Some of the moms we spoke to said these usually sit in the cupboard—until it’s time to polish and gift to another newborn! This is the worst possible version of a gift that keeps giving, creating an endless cycle of a gift that will never be used.
Breast pumps: These might indeed be useful, but all women have a different approach to feeding. Some moms prefer to feed directly and not pump; others might be fans of formula. You wouldn’t want your gift to strike a nerve on what could be a very personal or sensitive issue.
Anatomical cakes: Theme cakes are all the rage for special occasions. While it might be okay to get a cake shaped like male genitalia for a bachelorette or hen party, a ‘birth’ cake might not be the best idea. Who wants to dig into the flesh-coloured fondant of a newborn, or worse—a dilated cervix?
Did we just strike out all of your go-to ideas? Don’t worry; there are still some thoughtful gifts you can buy without burning a hole in your pocket or investing hours of effort. Stay tuned for good gift ideas in our New-Mum Gift Guide, coming soon!