General Question

KatawaGrey's avatar

Parents: What was that one super useful thing that you really needed, but no one gave you at your baby shower?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21433points) May 13th, 2011

My boyfriend’s mother invited me to his sister’s baby shower in June. I can’t afford to get a really expensive present like a stroller or a crib or even a diaper service, though I’ve heard that’s a pretty great gift for new parents but I want to get her something super useful. I’ve been to a few baby showers and I know that people can have a tendency to get really cute, but ultimately silly gifts that parents don’t really need.

I was thinking maybe a five pack of onesies for an older baby, since I figure everyone will be getting onesies for a newborn. What are your thoughts, collective?

I’m also going to include a gift card to a baby store and a little something for mom and dad.

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30 Answers

SuperMouse's avatar

Personally I loved layette gowns. I only got one, but I used them constantly and had to buy a bunch. They were the easiest thing for the baby to sleep in and I used three or four a week during the first three months or so.

augustlan's avatar

I loved onesies, and getting some in a bigger size would have been great. The other thing I used a ton of (but I know a lot of people don’t) was cloth diapers. I didn’t use them as diapers, but as burp rags and changing pad liners. Also, plain crib sheets. You would not believe how often you have to change crib sheets, and most people just buy the set that matches everything else. Having several plain white sheets would be very handy. Something I got and used constantly was a big rectangular basket stocked with diapers, wipes, a changing pad and ointment, along with verbal instructions to use this as a mobile changing ‘table’. It saved me countless trips up and down the stairs!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Is this a first baby? How about the gift of time? Give them a coupon for babysitting for a night so they can get out for a little bit?

Seelix's avatar

My best friend had a baby in October, and she said that her favourite shower gifts were gift cards from Wal-mart or the grocery store. She had inherited a ton of hand-me-down clothing and things from friends and relatives, and said that all she really needed were diapers ;)

When she actually had the baby, I sent her a $50 gift card for pizza so that they could have a couple of nights of take-out, and she appreciated that a ton.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe: This is a first baby, but I doubt I’ll get a chance to babysit since this is also a first grandchild for my boy’s mom and she doesn’t work full-time, so she’ll be able to babysit pretty much whenever.

@everyone: Thank you for answering! I was sort of toying with the idea of putting together a kind of “grab bag” of mundane but useful things. I’m sure no one wants to buy crib sheets @augustlan, and my mom also told me about the lafayette gown, @SuperMouse. That’s the baby sack with the drawstring opening at the bottom, right? I especially love the gift card idea for non-baby stores, @Seelix. The couple is also planning a wedding and I can imagine that will be both expensive and stressful with a baby. Why they’re not waiting until the baby is older, I will never know. They’re already planning to get married after the baby is born so tradition is already out the window.

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cazzie's avatar

I never had a baby shower, so I have no idea. Having some rubber backed sheets were useful, it helped minimise damage from leaky diaper and when accidents on the changing table happened. I dressed my little guy in onesys with footie tights (or pants that had footies built into them) to keep him warm. Socks were a waste of time and shirts that didn’t button under is crotch never stayed tucked in. He was a wiggler and still is.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Didn’t the mom register? Get her exactly what she wants from the registry.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: She may have registered but I haven’t had time to look yet. Also, I would imagine that sometimes moms don’t put everything on the registry and I wanted some useful ideas in case there was something she didn’t have on the registry that she would need later.

I also have never been invited to a baby shower before as an independent entity I’ve always been a package deal with my mom and my boyfriend’s mother and I have an odd if friendly relationship. I want to make the best possible impression on both his mother and his other relatives. His sister and I get along pretty well anyway so I’m not too worried about her. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I would ask if she is registered, so you can buy exactly the onesies or baby bottles or crib sheets she wants with the cute little pattern she likes best. People register at Target even, it doesn’t have to be a baby store.

I tend to like practical things, you could always get a big gift bag and fill it with a couple of issues of parenting magazine, desitin, baby shampoo, soaps, small package of diapers, etc. You can go to the supermarket and get all of that stuff, or a baby store if you want the higher end shampoos. But, it souds like you might want something with more presentation. Baby showers are annoying because part of the deal is to open every present.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: You’re reading my mind! I was thinking I could figure out what she wanted and then go buy cheaper versions because I am a poor college student. :)

Stinley's avatar

A useful thing I got was a little seat that you put in the bath. It was a really simple design but you get fancier ones now. Like this

It was great as babies are slippery little suckers, esp when wet, and this gives you a free hand to wash the wee one, rather that both hands being occupied holding both the baby’s head and body

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey If you go that route check for coupons in the Sunday paper, $1 of diapers and Johnson & Johnson products happen quite often. At worse you will get some coupons for yourself for other stuff. But, know that even that stuff will add up fast. Something practical off a register might be less expensive and have more presentation. I think last time I bought a gift for a coworker of my husband it was a bottle drying rack for $15 from her registry, and it came in a nice sized box, nicely wrapped with a bow.

Pandora's avatar

A nanny.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@JLeslie: I will definitely try that. :)

@Pandora: Unless nannies only cost about fifty bucks now, I certainly can’t afford that.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s almost summer and some beach toys or swimwear is pretty inexpensive. A cute sun hat would be a nice gift.

klutzaroo's avatar

I always buy onesies and other clothes in 6mo and up. I consider the season that the kid will probably be wearing them in, but I also consider the fact that some kids go almost right into 6 mo sized without bothering with staying small enough to wear half of the teeny tiny clothes that the parents get for the shower.

A lot of moms don’t think about this, and the fact that they’re doing to need clothes and things for years and years, when they register and just register for the cute little bitty baby stuff. My friend’s little chub never wore any of his newborn stuff and he’s far from the only baby I know of that spent no time or almost no time in the tiny clothes that were bought.

Seelix's avatar

@klutzaroo makes a good point. I did buy a few clothing items for my friend’s baby, but I got one 3-month, one 6-month and one 12-month outfit. He was an average-sized baby, but wore the 3-month onesie only once or twice before he outgrew it. Kids grow fast.

Blueroses's avatar

I’ve never had a baby shower but I sure have attended a bunch of them lately and the mom-to-be always gets super excited over these Boppy pillows. I guess you can never have too many of them. Student budget – I found them at TJ Maxx for under $20.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar


1. Baby wipes warmer
2. Diapers! Gift-card for a large chain pharmacy to buy diapers. More diapers.
3. Receiving blankets
4. Wee pads

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What is going on with Fluther editing today?! Geez, I can’t get these linked up!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

A parent’s guide to handling attitudinal pre-teens.

We pretty much received everything we registered for. But you can never go wrong with size 6 month onesies and tons and tons of diapers.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Preparing dinner the first week home.

geeky_mama's avatar

@BarnacleBill is on to something. If you aren’t nearby and able to bring by some meals to them for the first week home with the newborn perhaps you can just provide a gift-certificate to a meal-prep place like one of these or a gift-card from a place that delivers.
THAT is what I most would have loved back when I had a new baby.

If you don’t want to provide food and want a more traditional wrapped gift to bring to the party the best gift suggestions I can offer (and I have 4 kids) are:
1. Something from her registry
2. Baby Clothes at size 18 month size. Here’s why: EVERYONE will give her cute newborn sized clothes. They grow out of those so fast I had all kinds of outfits my babies never wore. (Especially the 10lb newborn who never fit into ANY of the newborn sizes..she went directly to the 3 – 6 month sized outfits and outgrew those in under 2 weeks, too.)
If the baby is born in Summer 2011, he/she will probably be wearing size 18 months about a year later. And NO ONE gives that size. The mom will tuck it away in the baby’s closet and be thrilled a year later when she has this new outfit..and it’ll last an entire season instead of being worn just once or twice before the baby outgrows it.

augustlan's avatar

Also, a little laundry basket works great as a gift container. Throw all your little presents into it, and tie on a ribbon.

Supacase's avatar

One thing I loved that I never thought about was a sleep sack. (AKA wearable blanket.) They keep the baby warm at night without using a blanket.

Another idea, which would have been soooo helpful, is to get a variety of small packs of diapers and wipes in different brands. The best diaper to use is different for every baby and I hated spending money on a pack only to find they didn’t fit her right at all – especially since we were on a tight budget. With wipes, they all have different textures and scents and everyone has a favorite. I love Target up & up brand wipes so much I still buy them almost 6 years later. I will never go without baby wipes again!

Also, you can get free or inexpensive subscriptions to some helpful magazines. Baby Talk is a free (really, no catch) magazine from the same company as Parenting magazine. I personally preferred Baby Talk to Parenting. I know you aren’t going to give her a freebie as her shower gift, but a note tucked in her card or gift letting her know you are giving her a subscription is a nice little extra.

I had no idea what I would really need when I was a first-time mom. I asked for things that turned out to be useless and missed things that were life savers. Think of the registry as a guide or go-to, but don’t rule out other options.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Supacase has it right: “I had no idea what I would really need when I was a first-time mom. I asked for things that turned out to be useless and missed things that were life savers. Think of the registry as a guide or go-to, but don’t rule out other options.” First time moms often find that what they thought they wanted has no bearing on what they find that they really need. I would have loved to have had a gift card for all the stuff that I found really useful. Most of the cool gadgets I was given turned out, for me, to take up space I could ill afford to sacrifice, as well as requiring an outlet I couldn’t spare.

Pandora's avatar

@KatawaGrey LOL, You did ask what I wished they had given me. That is the one thing I really needed at times.
Sometimes the best gift doesn’t cost anything. Volunteering to babysit a few weekends so the couple can have time alone, or go out. So many people hate giving up a free night to help friends have a free night themselves.
I remember once my friends taking me out for one evening. I really, really didn’t want to go, especially without my husband. But I had a really great time. For a few hours, I wasn’t a mom, or a wife. I was just me.
Or you can buy nice cotton bed sheets. Babies drool formula on sheets a lot and it stinks fast.
Or tons of bibs. When my son was teething, he was an open faucet. I must’ve changed his bib about 6 times a day. Kid would always still end up with a wet chest.

Jeruba's avatar

Don’t buy any outfit smaller than 9-month size. Both of my babies outgrew the tiny stuff before they were a month old. In fact, one of them started in the 9-month size. He was only about 8.5 pounds, but solid. If the baby has siblings or cousins, there’s not a lot of need for outfits anyway. (But I do give 18-month size, computing the season in which I think they’re most likely to need it. Most babies do not need to be dressed for winter all year round.)

Two of the most useful things I had were
– a dozen cloth diapers, which never went on their bottoms but were great for everything else, including as protection for our shoulders (“burp cloths”), as quick-grab mops, rolled up and used as cushions and props, and, much, much later, as great soft household dustcloths and polishing rags
– a couple of rubber crib sheets, with a soft printed coating, that I cut into different sizes and used as lap protectors, instant changing mats, and various other purposes that present themselves as things go along

Neither of these is a glamor item that makes everybody in the room go “awww.” So one question is whether you want a big thanks from the mother now, in front of everyone, or later on and silently.

I’ve also always taken pity on infants in cribs and refrained from giving them large stuffed animals. What must all those monster faces look like to a tiny thing who is just beginning to grasp the significance of the eyes-nose-mouth configuration? I always wonder if parents who surround their little ones with huge grinning and leering toys, especially the cartoonish ones with their bulging eyes and big teeth, have ever tried to imagine what the world looks like from the baby’s point of view.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Jeruba: I figure all of the fun, cute stuff is for family members to give. I do hope to become a permanent member of the family eventually but for right now, I’m not even really that close of a friend my boyfriend gets a little uneasy when I’m around his family. I was actually quite surprised that I was invited at all. I’ve already ordered a five pack of 18-month onesies. Baby may use these before s/he’s even gotten to that size. Mostly, the people in their family are average sized, but every once in a while, a statistical outlier is born like my large boyfriend or one of his even larger cousins. I’m thinking a few crib sheets as well, plus a babies r us gift card and a few smaller gift cards to insta-food places.

I really appreciate everyone’s help. Thank you all so much for helping!

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