One of the biggest – and most fun – shopping tasks you can be faced with is buying a present for a new baby.
Having had a little boy earlier this year, I’ve been privileged to be on the receiving end of such gifts – and people are amazingly kind and generous. I was given enough hats, socks, babygros and woolies to last the tiny fella for months. Really cute, beautiful outfits that I’d never have been able to justify buying for myself.
The thing is, with so many people getting clothes for the new baby, what do you buy if you want to go for something different?
The ideal new baby present should be memorable, thoughtful, look neither too cheap nor embarrassingly expensive, long-lasting and most of all, be something for the new parents will find useful.
So, bearing in mind the gifts I was given, and having quizzed several fellow mums about this, here are my top non-clothing baby present ideas. If you end up buying one of them for someone, let me know how it goes down!
Skip Hop Pronto travel change mat, £27-29 www.amazon.co.uk or www.johnlewis.com (see also pic at top of post)
This clever, stylish fold-up travel change mat has two pockets as well as a fold up mat all in one – it’s big enough to hold four nappies, wipes and nappy sacks so that they’re all in one place (no scrabbling around in a big buggy bag). You just fill it up, chuck it in your bag or basket, and grab it when baby needs a change. It comes in several cool patterns and is possibly the best baby accessory I own.
John Lewis star blanket, £16, www.johnlewis.com
Available in bright red, pale blue or pink (with hearts instead of stars), this soft, thick, snuggly blanket looks and feels amazing and will get tons of use on the buggy, car seat or wrapped round baby in the sling. It’s brilliant – I love ours.
Freddie Firefly and/or Captain Calamari, £7.95 each, www.amazon.co.uk
Not only do these two toys look amazing, but the clip on the top means you can attach them to your buggy, baby gym, or playpen and they’re great for amusing little ‘uns when out and about. Younger babies love looking at the bright colours and feeling the different textures, while bigger babies love chewing on the teething rings.
Philips Avent Bath and Room Thermometer, £12.99, www.amazon.co.uk
When you’re a new parent, you become obsessed with temperatures. This sturdy, cute, portable thermometer works in the bath and also “on land” and is small enough to take with you when travelling.
Brights Teether Links, £3.48, www.tesco.com/direct
Babies have to learn to grasp things; so most toys are too sophisticated for them at first. When they do start to play, they need things that are thin enough for them to hold in their tiny hands and chew with their little mouths – and plastic links are perfect. Not only that, but links are also handy for attaching toys (like Captain Calamari) and teethers to a buggy or baby gym. You can buy versions of these from several places, but Tesco’s are the best, as they have rubbery teething bits on as an added bonus.
Jelly Cat Bredita duck or bunny chime, £9.98, www.play.com; or £8.99-10.99, www.amazon.co.uk
These sweet little fellas are a great first toy for similar reasons to the baby links – their squishy fabric legs are spindly enough for tiny hands, and their soft arms and wings are perfect for nibbling on. They have a gentle chiming bell inside too.
The Hungry Caterpillar Very Special Baby Journal, £14.98, www.amazon.co.uk
Baby milestones such as that first smile, first tooth and first crawl fly by so quickly that it’s a great idea to keep an official record of them. There are lots of baby record books out there, but this is one of the best, with lots of pages to fill in, an envelope for a lock of hair, and lots of room for photos. It comes in a presentation box too, making it a lovely gift.
Want something slightly cheaper? The Baby Journal from KTwo products (£9.99, also from Amazon) has cute illustrations and a set of stickers saying things like ‘first tooth’ to stick next to your photos.
“That’s not my…” books, £6 from bookshops; around £4 from www.amazon.co.uk
These fun board books are brilliant for babies and toddlers – the pages are sturdy enough for them to turn themselves, and they love stroking and scratching the touchy-feely patches on the pages. There are dozens to choose from, including “That’s not my Bunny”, “That’s not my Train”, “That’s not my Reindeer” and even “That’s not my Monster”. The author must be loaded by now, they’re so popular. My favourite? “That’s not my Pirate”!