Maybe it’s the nostalgia for my own little babies, or just the imagery of a swaddled-up, sweet-smelling, sleeping newborn, but I love searching through baby registries and finding the perfect gift for my mama-to-be friends and family members.
My first piece of shopping advice: stick to the registry whenever possible. I know it can seem boring to buy something directly from a checklist, especially if it’s something as mundane as bottles or nipple cream. It may feel like it takes the “thoughtfulness” out of the gift-giving. But the expectant mother and father have probably read all the books, scoured all the online product reviews, and studied all the must-have lists for newborns (and new parents!), and they have likely carefully chosen the colors and theme for the nursery. So it really still is very thoughtful to buy directly from the registry, to give them the best possible head start in their parenting preparations. It also takes the guesswork out of finding the right gift if you have no idea what to buy!
That being said, I like to find ways to get creative by shopping in categories rather than looking for one single item to check off a list. It allows me to find something from the registry, and add a little something extra with a more personal touch. I like to choose things that I remember frequently using or that I couldn’t live without when I was a new mother. Or just something that I find particularly perfect.
Here are 7 baby shower gift categories to choose from:
1. Bedding and Blankets
Definitely an essential baby item, blankets and sheets are sure to be on every mama’s registry. She has probably selected particular colors and patterns based on her personal taste, so if you want to go off-registry here, at least pay attention to the colors she’s registered for and select something that compliments or coordinates with her overall style choices. One of my favorite blanket brands to give as gifts are the aden + anais silky soft swaddle blankets. They are soft and durable, versatile and breathable, and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns! And they also have specific fan-favorite theme patterned blankets for the parents you know who love Disney or Harry Potter.
This is a category that lends itself to a very personal and thoughtful gift if you happen to be talented at knitting, crocheting, or quilting! And if you’re not creative but would like to give a homemade blanket, there is always Etsy!
2. Bath Time Essentials
This is one of my favorite things to gift at a baby shower! It may sound simple, but it’s something you KNOW they will need and use. And who doesn’t appreciate the smell of a freshly cleaned and lotioned baby?? Most of the time, there are at least a few baby hygiene products on the registry.
I will gladly grab these items, and then choose an assortment of some of my other favorite baby toiletries: diaper cream, lotion, and baby wash. I like to use a cute canvas storage bin to arrange these products with a few folded washcloths or a hoodie towel (from the registry if possible) and maybe a little rubber duckie to top it all off. It makes a really pretty presentation of a very practical (budget-friendly) gift!
If you have a higher gift budget, you can purchase the newborn tub and fill it with the shampoos, body washes, washcloths, a baby grooming set, and bath toys, all from the registry. Then add an embroidered personalized hoodie towel and the cutest pair of baby pajamas you can find!
3. Milestone Boards and Memory Books
For my first baby, I printed out pictures (from a disposable camera) and carefully cut and arranged collages with handwritten captions and the dates for every “first” in a pretty pink baby scrapbook. Personally, I still think there is something sentimental about traditional scrapbooking like this, and if you know your expectant friend is traditional and crafty, a baby memory book is a thoughtful gift (it’s even possible she has registered for one herself!).
Now we have smart phones with seemingly smarter cameras, social media to share every moment instantly, and multiple apps to digitally document all our baby’s “firsts” for us. My favorite app for digitally creating scrapbooks is Chatbooks; it syncs up to my Instagram account and automatically generates a memory book for me when I get to 30 posts, and it arrives in the mail just days later!
There are different plans to choose and books to create within the app; it is all so simple and a Chatbooks gift card would be a great gift for the modern social media-savvy mama! Shutterfly is another app that I have used to make MANY photo books (especially since I never seemed to find the time to fill in the memory books for my second and third babies).
Another popular registry item for many moms is a milestone mat or letter board to capture every monthly milestone. You can purchase their choice of milestone marker and include a gift card to try out one of the apps mentioned above or your own favorite photo app.
4. Playtime Equipment
Babies grow and develop so quickly in those first 12 months! They go from lying flat to rolling over to pushing themselves up to scooting, sitting, crawling, pulling up to standing and then walking. After that, there’s no keeping up with them!! But for every stage, there is an activity center that helps keep baby entertained while you try to get a load of laundry finished.
A play mat like the one above is a perfect starter and would be a much-appreciated gift. The mat is machine washable and easily folds up for travel to grandma’s house. An activity center or a jumperoo are also great baby shower gift ideas for later on in the more active bouncy baby stage.
Oftentimes, a specific activity mat or center will be on the mother’s registry so it’s best to choose the one she prefers. If by chance, she hasn’t chosen one of these activity centers, choose one for her; it’s something she will be increasingly grateful for as the busy months go by!
5. Nursing and Feeding Time Accessories
One of my most used baby shower gifts was my nursing cover, given to me by my best friend. It afforded me privacy to nurse whenever and wherever my infant daughter decided it was meal time. The nursing covers have come a long way since then both in style and functionality.
Add some nipple cream and nursing pads to your cart to create the perfect nursing starter gift set. If you really want to get your mama friend off to the right start, a boppy pillow can make feeding time much more comfortable.
This is one thing that you might not find on a baby registry, unless the mother is an avid reader. Speaking of avid readers (ahem…ME), I have given ribbon-clad baskets full of baby books as baby shower gifts many times! There are certain classics that every baby’s library should have: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, Pat the Bunny, nursery rhymes, and Dr. Seuss.
There are My First Word Books and sensory books. Possibilities are endless. I went to a friend’s baby shower where she was given a basket of children’s board books by her aunt, but was also given a beautiful hand made quilt (like this one from Etsy) based on her favorite book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was one of her most treasured gifts!
7. Pampering for Mom
This is another non-registry gift idea, but it could be given in combination with any other gift. A gift card for a pedicure or prenatal massage might bring any pregnant woman to tears of joy! For my sister’s baby shower, I bought her the high chair she wanted, some “My Aunt LOVES Me” bibs, and an appointment to take her out for a pedicure.
It made her (and her swollen feet) feel refreshed and ready for her baby’s arrival. Find a local spa that offers prenatal massage or a nail salon and pre-pay for the service you’d like to give the guest of honor. Then present her the certificate at her baby shower and watch how her face lights up with happiness!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that every gift is appreciated and you can’t go wrong simply choosing anything from a couple’s registry. And if you would like to search for your own gift idea, at least take a look at the baby registry first to get started. You can find all of the registries of the parents-to-be in one convenient place by doing a simple search on RegistryFinder.com.