As a Certified Professional Doula and Baby & Toddler Sleep Coach, one of the questions I get all the time is what kind of products do I recommend for new families, especially sleep-related items such as swaddles, baby monitors, sound machines, and pacifiers. I thought it was time to create a full list that is easy to share with families and those who love them. Here is my Best Gifts for New Parents List.
Whether it’s for a holiday season or baby shower, I always recommend that the gift for new moms, dads or parents be practical and the biggest bang for your buck. My M.O. is to skip over the cute, decorative or thoughtful gifts and get helpful gifts for new parents instead.
I decided to put together these gift ideas into a quick visual gift guide with the tired parent or sleep deprived family in mind.
Best Gifts for New Parents –
A quick note about what is NOT on this list: baby sleep positioners like the Docatot. If you’d like to pour yourself a glass of wine and read about why I highly recommend you never use it, click here to read more. It’s simply unsafe and I predict they’ll be recalled any day now for risks to babies while asleep. Their own website says they are not for infant sleep, so, take their word for it.
1) SLEEP GIFT CARD: of course my first recommendation would be a gift card to Through the Night Method sleep support services! Giving someone a nap (postpartum services) or the gift of long term sleeping skills (Through the Night Method Programs) is the best way to say “I love you” to the new family. The easiest way to pick out the best program (I work within your budget and the child’s age) for someone you love is to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or check out options on my website.
It’s also nice to do a gift card for a local baby gear store for a bigger purchase that a family may want to choose for themselves like a car seat, stroller, diaper bag or toiletry gift sets. I have heard of coworkers or a large group of friends buying the larger ticket items this way and it can be so helpful in softening the financial burden of bringing home a newborn baby.
I’m also a huge fan of borrowing items, trading items and regifting when a family has outgrown an item. Hand-me-downs make wonderful gifts!
2) SOUND MACHINE: this is a perfect gift every time. Choose one with a continuous womb-like or white noise setting. Most sound machines have an “auto timer” that turns it off after a while, make sure it can run all night. I don’t suggest ones with nightlights/lights, as they stimulate babies and have a negative effect on sleep. Don’t worry about the family already having one. They will want one for their room, the baby’s room, the car, the stroller, etc.
3) DRYING RACK: I LOVE Love Love these drying racks. No need to gently, precisely set anything on these to dry items. Bottle parts, pumping flanges, nipples and pacifiers can be strewn about on this rack to dry. And the rack itself is dishwasher safe!! You cannot believe how many washable parts families have for taking care of a newborn baby. This comes in green and a pretty new grey color that blends in with many kitchen countertops. I get the big one for gifts all the time.
4) SWING: newborns do especially well with womb-like conditions during nap time, this includes constant motion. I highly recommend a swing for day time (supervised) naps when the baby is especially cranky, overstimulated or hard to set down. Something simple is always best and this can be a great gift to pass around a group of friends, since babies will grow out of their need for it within the first year.
5) LOVIES/PACIFIERS: depending on the child’s age (check with a pediatrician if the child is under one year old), a small lovie/lovey (stuffed animal or small baby blankets) and/or pacifier can aid in self-soothing (the child’s ability to help themselves fall asleep and connect sleep cycles). To read more in depth about pacifiers, check out my blog on the topic.
I love the Nookums brand the best, because you can swap in ANY soother/pacifier to the little animal grip, whereas the Wubbanub brand only allows their soother/pacifier by permanently attaching it. Removable soother ends also makes it easier to sanitize each part.
6) SWADDLES: depending on the child’s age and gross motor development phase, I recommend a full swaddle (arms in), arms out swaddle (just swaddling the torso), a Merlin suit or sleep sac. For newborns and young babies, I love the Halo swaddles that can fully swaddle arms in. It’s also easier to double swaddle babies that can sneak their arms up and out of a swaddle – more on that here.
Once the child is older and rolling over (or attempting it) it is recommended to leave arms unswaddled and hands free, for their safety. The Halo swaddles allow for this transition without purchasing an additional swaddle.
Then, when babies get older and outgrow the Halo swaddle, families can move to any time of sleep sac. The big kid Halo feet free sleep sac is AMAZING for walkers up to age 3 – 4 years old.
7) BABY MONITOR: I like the simpler ones the best. A black and white video monitor that transmits from a single camera (wifi not necessary) is enough to see and hear the baby. Make sure cords are VERY far away from the crib, so it does not become a strangulation risk. This is a great gift for a grandparent, or other caregiver, so that there is a monitor in their home as well as in the baby’s home.
If you want to add bells and whistles, get one that monitors the room temperature is nice, as we know research shows room temperature has an impact on the baby’s safety and ability to sleep well. There is also data linking night terrors to room temperature as well. It’s common for bedrooms to be several degrees different than the home’s thermostat reads.
8) TRIPLE PASTE DIAPER CREAM: this thing is miraculous and must be made out of pixie dust. It works on anything and everything and has proved to be my GO TO cream recommendation for all my clients. And, I have tried them all, promise! It’s not cheap, but a travel size will do.
9) BABY BOOKS: It takes a relatively long time (and a big expense) to create a little library in the home with an array of books for children. Studies show that reading to the baby will affect their literacy for years to come. And, it’s a wonderful part of the bedtime routine for many families. Consider choosing a baby book with a written inscription rather than a card the next time you have a gift to give. It’ll mean so much to read your note for years to come.
Children’s books come in all shapes, sizes and topics. My recent favorites are the waterproof, indestructible books (hello bath time!) that can be wiped off and taken all over the world on car trips and flights.
10) INEXPENSIVE ADD-ONS: I love throwing these in on top of a bigger gift. Burp clothes, teethers, small packs of different pacifier types (this is an art and science to find THE RIGHT ONE), 1-2 different bottle types (for the same reason as bottles), and nipple cream.
Please let me know if you have any comments or additions I should make. Happy shopping and sweet dreams,
Sarah Branion, Baby & Toddler Sleep Coach