Got a pal about to sprog? New mother Catie Wilkins knows what she REALLY needs. Allow her to help you be the best auntie ever.
Hooray! Your friend/cousin/sister has had a baby! How wonderful and exciting. She’s about to be inundated with tiny knitted cardigans and hats. While this is lovely – and she’s not turning her nose up at them, honest – here’s a list of practical and/or fun presents she doesn’t even know she needs until they’re there (with a few obvious staples too).
1. Babygrows. Obvious but eternally useful and the least fiddly outfit to attempt to put a new baby in and out of. You want poppers down the front centre (as opposed to front side, pulling over the head or, god forbid, buttons down the back) for easiest use).
It’s a good idea to get the next size up from newborn, as some babies are born too big for the tiniest sizes, and they grow so quickly they’re probably only going to wear it for a week anyway. You can get them almost anywhere. Mamas And Papas do nice packs of three with front poppers. Or if you want to push the boat out, John Lewis do lovely and soft ones made from 100 per cent organic cotton.
2. Bibs. At a certain point babies start drooling like it’s an Olympic sport and getting through bibs quite quickly. Thick durable ones, like these from Funky Giraffe, last much longer before needing to be replaced with a nice new dry one. They also have some amazing patterns so there is something for everyone.
3. Socks that look like shoes. Often the cutest and most hilarious outfits are also the least practical. But that’s not the case with socks (plus babies have no real use for actual shoes). Trumpette have a lot to choose from and you can also find them in places like TK Maxx.
4. Comforter. It’s not quite a teddy and not quite a blanket, but as they get bigger and better at grabbing things, babies seem to like the feel of them. The White Company do some really soft ones but you can get them anywhere, including M&S. The good thing about having more than one is that the spare can be subbed in if the first one gets puke on it.
5. Ball (that babies can hold). Growing babies love practising their grabbing and holding skills but they can get annoyed pretty quickly if they’re struggling to do something. This kind of ball is light and easy for little fingers. Also it’s only £4.99, so great if you’re on a budget.
7. Squeaky Toy. Sophie The Giraffe is possibly the Beyoncé of baby toys, so you may not be the only person to buy it. Sophie is most famous for helping with teething (which she is great at) but she also squeaks. There are lots of other squeaky baby toys and they are good for making babies laugh as they get bigger.
8. Textured Books. These are another great thing that can be attached to buggies. There are loads to choose from and they’re practical as well as fun. This Jellycat one is small and has Velcro instead of a hook, which gives extra possibilities for things it can be attached to.
9. Touch and feel board books. These Noodle books are fantastic. Even quite small babies seem transfixed by this cute little panda. Out of all the board books I’ve seen, Noodle ones seem to hold their attention the longest and are the only ones to have a mirror at the end of each book, which is always a hit with babies.
10. Baby’s first healthcare kit. This one by Tommee Tippee is a nice little gift with lots of useful things in it that people might not think to buy individually. The nail scissors are great and the thermometer is tiny and therefore more portable than any big, fancy ear thermometer your friend might already have. Plus there’s a toothbrush all ready for when tiny teeth appear.
11. Bathtime gift set. People seem to spend lots of time worrying about babies’ skin and how sensitive it is so it can be a bit of minefield knowing what products to get. Weleda and Burts Bees do really nice ranges especially for babies. If your friend likes the starter kit, they can always scale up.
12. Muslin cloths. These are always useful and you can never have too many. Although not necessarily very exciting, a muslin cloth is about the safest present you can possibly buy. Again you can get them anywhere. These ones from John Lewis are nice and big.
13. Imprint kit. This is a cute way to capture exactly how tiny baby hands and feet actually are. It’s also the kind of thing lots of parents always mean to get round to but that slips down the priority list as it doesn’t actually contribute to keeping a baby alive. Mamas And Papas do a sweet range to choose from.
14. Baby first aid kit. Your friend probably has all the main areas covered but this little one by Jojo Maman Bebe is a small kit that can be chucked in the car or taken on holiday without too much fuss.
15. Sesame Street music. An invaluable childcare aid. Nursery rhymes get boring and annoying for parents pretty quickly and mainstream pop music doesn’t always cut it for grumpy babies. These Sesame Street albums are like the best compromise ever.
They’re fun, silly, educational and full of clowning, jokes and squeaky duck type sound effects that babies find amusing. They are a pleasing distraction for bored or grumpy babies when their parents want to finish the washing up before they go back to entertaining their baby manually. (Elmo’s Song has literally stopped my baby crying, enabling me to do important things like finish my toast.)
Equally good on longer car journeys. Platinum All Time Favourites is a great all-rounder, featuring classics such as I Love Trash, but Splish, Splash Bathtime Fun is very much a necessity for the sheer joy of it. (A rap refrain that goes “Toothpaste, toothpaste anything you wanna know”? Exactly). Fingers crossed there’s also some subliminal brainwashing to enjoy teeth-brushing when the time comes. (This is unsubstantiated). Buy the CD if you’re feeling retro or gift on iTunes.4980 Views
Catie Wilkins is a writer, comedian and children’s author who likes jokes and stories.