If a friend or relative is pregnant, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their baby, you may be wondering what the perfect gift is for her and her new little one. I have asked some mums what gifts they found most valuable and have put together tips and ideas for families with a new baby. Thank you to everyone for sharing your ideas!
1. Home-cooked meals. This is my absolute number one and something I'll always do for friends and family that have a new baby. New parents are often exhausted in the early weeks and months after giving birth, so a home-cooked nutritious meal can be a real treat. Ensure you know what they like to eat and any dietary requirements, then choose meals that can be frozen and heated easily. Knowing there is a meal in freezer on the days you haven't got the energy to cook is a real blessing.
2. Put together a basket of little gifts. Whilst there are ready-made hampers out there, it's extra thoughtful to put together a basket of things you know will be useful. Consider a basket with water bottle or lidded cup, healthy snacks, and a magazine to keep handy for when she's feeding baby and little one falls asleep on her. Or a basket with changing supplies, baby toiletries or practical gifts (see next point). Whatever you choose to put in it, once the items are used, little baskets are perfect for keeping around the house with nappies and wipes when baby is small, or as toy storage sa baby gets older.
3. Be practical. Whilst luxury gifts can be lovely, there are some things that a new parent needs in constant supply. Useful gifts such as breast pads, nappies or muslins are perfect. On the subject of muslins, you can never have enough! Perfect for soaking up spills, using as a makeshift bib, wiping dirty hands and faces, and even for swaddling baby in warmer weather.
4. Choose clothing carefully. When buying clothes, most mums found they were inundated with newborn and 0-3 month sized outfits, so consider buying an outfit for when baby is a little bigger (don't forget to think about the season it will be when baby reaches that age). Sometimes a voucher for a baby clothing outlet is a better option so they can choose clothes that they need and to suit their style. Instead of clothing, a hooded towel is a great option for wrapping baby up warm and snuggly after a bath.
5. A baby blanket. Baby blankets are another thing that you find you need lots of... one for the cot, one for during the day, one for the car, the pram, etc (plus at least a couple in the wash at any given time!). I regularly photograph for the brand Isla & Fraser who make beautiful and super soft organic cotton baby blankets (as well as a whole host of other baby essentials). They feel luxurious and natural, and are the closest thing you'll get to something home-knitted if you don't have the talent for that (which I certainly don't!), bringing me nicely onto my next point...
6. Homemade gifts. If you have a talent, then homemade gifts are always a treasured keepsake. Whether it's a knitted cardi, crocheted hat or hand-sewn quilt are sure to be gratefully received. When I had my babies, knowing someone had put their time and care into making something for them made it extra special - we still have the knitted, crocheted and quilted items that were kindly created and gifted to us.
7. A pamper kit. As a new parent, a lot of the focus is on the new baby, it's important to make time for self-care. Consider products that can be used quickly in the shower or after, as well as bath products for when she has a little more time to herself. Products with essential oils for relaxation and self-care, or a natural nipple cream, were all suggested as gifts that were well-received.
8. The gift of time. A new mum will appreciate some time to herself, whether it’s watching the baby for an afternoon so she can nap or pop for a coffee, or if she's not ready to leave the baby yet, she may like some help with household chores such as dusting or vacuuming. Alternatively, print you own vouchers for babysitting time, so the new parents can use them when they feel ready to go out and leave their little one.
9. Ask the new parents. Sometimes it's tricky to know what is needed and some families may be inundated with gifts from well-meaning friends and relatives. Don't be afraid to ask them what would be helpful. If you're stuck for ideas, but don't want to ask directly, then vouchers are a great option meaning they can choose what they'd like. Vouchers for department stores where they can opt for baby items or a treat for themselves are a great option, as are vouchers for a local coffee shop so they can pop out for lunch or grab a hot drink when meeting with other new parents.
10. A baby photoshoot voucher! Of course, I couldn't complete my list without including my own services. So many new parents tell me how fast the first year goes and how much their baby has changed, it's important to capture those early memories. They will treasure these images, great for both sharing on Instagram to announce their new arrival as well as as an heirloom that records the family history. My vouchers include the session fee as well as a collection of images (as I don't want parents being given a gift that means they then have to spend more after the shoot), so they start at £445. I find the vouchers are popular with grandparents who would like to document their new grandchild's arrival, as well as a gift where a collection is being put together, such as for co-workers or a group of friends for a baby shower. The vouchers are valid for 15 months, so if the new parents don't feel up to a newborn shoot in baby's first few weeks, there are plenty of other milestones they can capture in baby's first year. If you'd like to gift a photoshoot voucher, please contact me.
I got to ten and still had tips, so here are a couple of bonuses...
Bonus tip 1: Something a bit different. One of my followers suggested name labels with your baby's full name on. Whilst they aren't likely to be needing them immediately, the little one will eventually start nursery, pre-school or school and these will definitely come in handy!
Bonus tip 2: Don't forget siblings. The arrival of a new baby brother or sister can be an unsettling time for little ones, particularly if they were an only child before their sibling arrived. Making a fuss of them with attention as well as a gift can make them feel special and help ease this anxiety. A tip (that I always use when I photograph a newborn and sibling shoot) is to focus your language on them rather than the new baby, e.g. rather than asking about the new baby, ask them if they enjoy being a big sister/ big brother.
I hope you've found these tips useful! Thanks again to everyone that made suggestions. If you received an amazing gift that isn't mentioned above, please pop it in the comments and I'll update the post.