I was on the youngish side when I became a mum for the first time, so not many of my friends had kids yet. But reflecting back on 24-year-old-me, I realise I still had adequate time to commit horrendous offences of the crap gift-giving kind. So, I’ve decided to write this post as my penance as I beg those friends who paved the path before me for their forgiveness.
There’s a saying “You don’t know what you don’t know”. I used to think this was a bit of a cop-out, an excuse for ignorance. But when it comes to parenting, it’s true – you really don’t know until you’ve been there yourself. Sure, I had little cousins, had worked in childcare throughout university and was an early years teacher. I knew a little about parenting from my comfy perch on the sideline. That smidgen of knowledge was but a drop in the ocean.
So here’s a little list of my top practical gift ideas for new mums.
1. Mini-med-kit (infant paracetamol and a digital thermometer)
Those Panadol ads aren’t BSing you. As a first-time mum, when your little bub* gets a fever it’s panic stations. You break into a sweat yourself, fumble around trying to find a thermometer, curse yourself for not buying paracetamol in anticipation of this inevitable event, and consider calling an ambulance. After all, your baby (AKA The Centre of The Universe), is pushing 39 degrees, and it’s catastrophic! If only you had a little med kit in your bathroom drawer, given by a thoughtful pal back when you were pregnant!
*You can’t use infant paracetamol for babes under 4 weeks.
2. Nasal aspirator
This is a little contraption…. I mean contraception, no I mean contraption (I think) … that you probably wouldn’t know existed unless you’re a parent. I sure didn’t when my first darling was four weeks old and had his first cold. He was so congested that the poor little dear couldn’t breathe properly. ***Avert your eyes if you’re repulsed by revolting kid stories or you’re eating a snack right now.***
The Husband and I consulted good ol’ Doctor Google who calmly suggested that one of us should place our mouth over our baby’s mouth and nose and suck the snot out! Suck it OUT!!!! Oh the horror! A quick game of scissors, paper, rock deemed me to be the unfortunate participant in that task. And that, my friends, is the story of how I developed PSTD – Post Traumatic Snot Disorder. So just do your pregnant friend a favour and buy her an aspirator, okay?
3. Facial moisturiser
When you bring your newborn home, you’re busy doing these things: gazing into her eyes, taking thousands of photos on your iPhone, writing thank you cards for gifts, unpacking your hospital bag, receiving visitors, washing mountains of soiled baby clothes, sniffing your baby’s hair, marvelling at how tiny her little bum is, making up cutesy nicknames for her, and texting your husband photos of her wearing every outfit in her wardrobe. You become so focused on caring for your mini-me that it’s very easy to forget that you have basic survival needs. So a beauty regime sounds like a totally foreign concept to you. And when I say “you”, I mean “me“.
I don’t care how dewy and glowing your friend’s skin was while she was pregnant. Once she’s feeding her newborn six times overnight for a week, she will feel old, wrinkly and dry.
A beautiful, quality, fresh-scented day cream is like a facial in a jar. New mums deserve small luxuries.
4. Dry shampoo
Okay, pre-kids I was pedantic about washing and heat styling my long hair every single day. If I left the house for work with damp hair, I felt unprofessional and un-groomed.
Cut to present day: If I leave the house with my hair in a sopping wet bun I’m giving myself a mental high five for washing my hair.
These days brushing is a necessity, washing is a bonus, blowdrying is a luxury, and straightening is strictly reserved for formal occasions like weddings.
If your friend is a little OCD about hair cleanliness and likes her blowdry to last two days (or longer), consider buying her a can of this awesome stuff.
5. Nappy wallet
Many new mums take great pleasure in selecting certain things for themselves when they’re expecting a bub. Choosing a nappy bag has to be one of the most fun experiences, because it’s something that’s functional and fashionable, and there’s so much variety currently on the market.
Your nappy bag is a reflection of your self. Or at least that’s what we’re fed by the companies peddling the $400 leather designer nappy bags.
If this is true, my modest $30 nappy bag smarmily tells everyone “My owner is disorganised, is carrying a little extra weight, has stains down her front and always smells like milk.” So all in all, a pretty accurate reflection, really.
It was a clever idea of my friend M to give me a chic, compact nappy wallet which resembles a stylish clutch purse. It carries a slimline box of wipes and three nappies, and has a loop to attach a dummy. I slide this under my pram and carry my handbag like a normal person. Appearing like a normal person is paramount when you’re a mother, because you rarely feel like one.
6. A bassinet- or cot- sheet set
…Because the first time her baby has gastro, she’ll be wishing she had five sheet sets. Their bodies may be small but don’t be deceived; infants hold an impressive volume of spew, and they have a talent for spreading it as far as the exhausted, bleary eye can see.
7. Pram-top cup holder
There’s a phenomenon that occurs once one begins toting a small human around with oneself. If one stops to enjoy a frothy warm cappuccino whilst said small human sleeps in the pram, that child will inevitably wake-up/poo/vomit/scream/demand a feed the minute one’s bottom hits the seat of the trendy replica Thonet. Disapproving glances from peeved, childless hipsters will ensue.
When I had my dear darling Number One Son, I discovered the only way I would enjoy my caffeine fix was to order it “to have here, but in a takeaway cup”. I hedged my bets. Kid stayed asleep, I sat in cafe. Kid woke up, I don’t have to relinquish my coffee just because it’s in a china mug. I don’t like stealing.
Now, on baby number three, I’ve discovered this fabulous contraption:
It’s the Brica Snack Pod– storage for snacks on one side, beverage holder on the other! Perfect!
This nifty device is amazing, and I bought ours at Big W for around $15.
*There’s a warning on the plastic that discourages use with hot drinks. By the time this Mummy sips her coffee (after simultaneously breastfeeding a kicking bundle of baby, spoonfeeding a babycino to a moving target/toddler and having a D and M with a verbose preschooler), it’s always stone cold. No worries, there but something to remember nonetheless!
8. Feeding support pillow
Give the gift of support. No, I’m not talking about calling in for a cuppa, or sending a kind text to see how she’s going on day three (Google this: third day blues). Emotional support is important, but so is this: comfort whilst feeding her gorgeous newbie.
Whether she’s breastfeeding or bottle feeding, she’ll be using muscles she didn’t even know she had to support that 7lb16oz of gorgeousness, as he or she feeds around the clock.
The Mombo (or similar) offers this support, bringing baby to breast, or nose to nipple, or lips to bottle… you get the gist. Crouching over will hurt her neck, back and shoulders. If she’s breastfeeding she may spend a considerable amount of time wondering if she’ll soon be able to tuck her boobs into her socks, because the baby dangling off them is dragging them south.
Similarly, a voucher for a neck and shoulder massage would be a very well-received gift!
9. Bigger baby clothes, in the correct season for optimal wear
You know why they’re called “0000” and “000” sizes? Because when you pick up 0ne of those mini little outfits, your instinct is to say “oooohhhh, ooohhh how cute!”. If you don’t say it, I know you think it! Bonds Wondersuits make me particularly clucky. Can’t resist a baby all packed up in one of these!
But wait a sec. Skip straight past those little garments that make your ovaries want to burst into dance. Look behind them, to the back of the rack, to the bigger sizes. You see, everyone’s going to give your glowing girlfriend newborn-sized clothing. Then when her baby’s three months old, she’ll look at him packed into his last remaining fitting Bonds singlet, bursting at the seams, and exclaim with less enthusiasm than your Nana at a Katy Perry concert: “I’ll have to go to the shops”. (This is where her dry shampoo will come in handy).
Grab her some 0- and 1- sized clothes and think ahead – will her baby be a 0 (6 months-ish)* or a 1 (12 months-ish)** in summer or winter?
*I’d also leave the tags attached because, even though I’ve had three babies in the past five years, I still can’t quite get my head around the variations in clothing sizes between brands. This way she can exchange for the correct size if her baby won’t fit what you’ve bought.
** Also some of us have really large babies. Leave the tags on and you’ll make her day!
WIN a Bonds Wondersuit here.
Now brace yourself: There’s shopping, wrapping, gushing over the belly, birth-weight-guessing and cake-eating to be done!
Make sure you give that glorious vision of pregnant perfection a beautiful gift and a big hug, assured in the knowledge that your practical present will come in very handy very soon.
This blog post is not sponsored. These products are simply examples of my personal favourites.