Bringing home a new baby is one of the greatest moments in a person’s life, and ironically, it is also one of the most challenging. New parents receive tiny sleepers, fuzzy blankets, and diapers galore. And while these items are extremely useful and necessary to an infant’s first days, when you are walking around in the fog of new parenthood, what you really need is a way to catch your breath, and maybe even catch a nap. Here are five alternative baby gifts that every new parent is sure to love.
1. Drop off a bag full of “quick eats” on the day the family returns home from the hospital. Include snacks that can be grabbed up fast and eaten even quicker. Some ideas include, flavored crackers, nuts, trail mix, danish, bagels, pita chips & hummus, string cheese, etc. Throw in a favorite comfort food (anything chocolate will work) and some soda, juice, and/or bottled water to wash it all down. New parents tend to eat sporadically, just like their new baby, so having a bounty of healthy (and some not so healthy) quick snacks on hand is extremely helpful.
2. Offer the new parents laundry service for a full month. I know what you’re thinking, “They don’t want me going through their laundry,” and I will answer you with a resounding, “Yes, they do!” New parents have so much to adjust to in these early days: feeding schedules, sleep schedules, and don’t even get me started on the whole “What is that?” diaper inspection process. Putting laundry in the washer may happen, and, hey, the laundry might even find its way to the dryer, but once there it could sit for days. How wonderful to have someone pick up a laundry basket full of dirty clothes and give back fresh, nicely folded clothes in return. Offer a simple 24-hour turn-around service twice a week for their first tender month home with baby. Trust me, this is a gift they will never forget.
3. Take the new parents’ older children out for an afternoon. Bringing home a new baby when said baby is your first and only is challenging. Bringing home a new baby when you already have children can be overwhelming. Offer to take the older siblings out for an afternoon of fun whether it is for a picnic, a trip to the park or library, or even an outing to a local children’s museum, you name it. Not only will the new parents get a chance to focus solely on their newborn or take a shower or nap, the older siblings will get a chance to be the center of attention as well.
4. Act as the family’s personal delivery service. Offer to do the new parents’ grocery shopping/errand running for the next few weeks. Pick up a grocery or errand list and magically return a few hours later with the items they requested. You can even throw in a few additional gifts from yourself, such as some fresh flowers, a new c.d., or a favorite drink from the local coffee vendor. You will not believe how much time, thought, and energy this gift will save the new parents, and any extras you throw in will add a nice surprise to their day.
5. Visit local eateries that deliver (delivery is key here) and purchase gift cards. Short of dropping off home-baked meals every night for their first week home, this idea is sure to be one of the all-time top gifts received by new parents. After buying the gift cards, attach a few dollars with a paperclip for the delivery tip to each one (new parents rarely have enough cash on hand). Go in with a few other people and see if you can gather a week or two worth of gift certificates. Then, all the new parents have to do is dial up a delicious dinner, wait for it to be delivered, discard the containers, and sigh delightedly with the satisfaction of not having to have cooked or cleaned up.
It does, indeed, seem to take a village to raise a child, or at least to support new parents in doing so. Try one of these thoughtful ideas the next time someone in your life has a new baby, and your kindness will not only be appreciated, it will be remembered for years to come.