The Best Gifts for New Moms
I had a number of friends become moms this year (yay!!) so I have been thinking about what sorts of things will be best gifts for new moms. I'm also now a second time mom so have double the newborn experience- and half the sleep- I had last year! With Christmas coming up fast, not all of them have newborns anymore, but there are still plenty of useful things I can surprise them with. Most often when we think about giving gifts to new moms we are thinking about baby showers, but when it comes to the holidays often times baby is a few months or even nearly a year old and you still want to get them something they will get a lot of use out of. To that end, I’ve created this comprehensive list of products I used and loved, sorted by what age they were first useful at. And if you are attending a shower soon, don’t worry, there are plenty of ideas for the newest moms and babies!
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The Best Gifts for Brand New or Expecting Moms
When I had just given birth to my son, there were so many things that were helpful to me personally, but hadn’t felt appropriate to put on a baby registry. When I attend a shower now for a close friend, I tend to put together a basket filled with the following products that are truly for HER, not the baby.
This is now known as the Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle, but whatever you call it, it may be the greatest postpartum invention ever. The second time around I knew to pack it in my hospital bag because I wished I'd had it with me after giving birth to my son. Designed to hold more water than the standard hospital peri bottle to begin with, the Momwasher also has the sprayer on the bottom so you can actually use all of the water in it without holding your hand below you in the toilet. This product made the difference between filling a bottle once and waddling back and forth between the toilet and the sink.
Disposable underwear, a la Depends
Ok friends, this is one that you should only give if you are either VERY close, or if you are at least semi close and used them yourself (or wished you had). That said, they are seriously SO much better than even the biggest pads that first week or two post partum. I never really got the hype behind the mesh ones the hospital provides; I mean sure they're comfy, but they don't keep you from bleeding onto your couch. Not that I did that. Also, go ahead and size up- she's going to want some extra room for ice packs.
Bamboo nursing pads
Bamboo pads are softer than cotton, and that is very important to a new mom with sore nipples. Even if mom isn't nursing, she will still need something to absorb milk leaks until her supply dries up. While you can get disposable ones, these only need purchased once. I used the same set for baby #2 as I bought when I was pregnant the first time.
These are especially great for moms with smaller feet. Or at least not giant feet. I wear a size 10 and the hospital issued one-size-fits-all grippy socks were oversized on me, they'd be comical on someone with a size 6. I understand they are better offering a sock that's too large to patients than one that is too small, but ones that fit well will be more comfortable for her.
Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray
Formerly known as Earth Mama Bottom Spray, this is a WHOLE lot cuter in a gift basket than standard Tucks pads, and serves the same purpose. The spray has cucumber, lavender, and peppermint oil in it in addition to the witch hazel, which makes it smell very nice. When it was called Bottom Spray they actually included on the bottle that you can use it as a facial spray after healing, and I have to say I love it for that! Witch hazel is a natural astringent and the peppermint and cucumber oils make it refreshing to use.
Motherlove Nipple Cream
Personally, I couldn't stand the standard lanolin nipple cream the hospital had. I felt like it was sticky and thick and was just all around not fond of using it. Enter Motherlove nipple cream, which boasts an all organic ingredient list of olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, and calendula flower. I used this a ton with my son and had a jar upstairs and downstairs, then used them as lip balm once I didn't need nipple cream anymore. One disclaimer on this gift idea- only give it if you are sure mom plans to breastfeed. It could be seen as a passive-aggressive jab to a mother who plans to formula feed.
Nice water bottle
If mom doesn't have a great water bottle yet, now is a great time for her to get one. Especially if she is still pregnant or plans to breastfeed! My doctor wanted me drinking an entire gallon of water every day when pregnant, and even more if I had caffeine to help offset that. After delivery staying hydrated was an important part of the healing process, and since I was nursing a baby a dozen times a day I was ALWAYS thirsty.
The Best Gifts for New Moms of Infants
Okay, so mom is home from the hospital and is figuring out what was actually essential on that baby registry. These items are great for shower gifts, particularly if you aren’t close enough to be buying her disposable underwear.
As baby gets older and can hold their head up well this becomes less important, but initially a nursing pillow makes it much more comfortable for mom (or dad!) to feed their little bundle of joy. I was always surprised how far up from my lap I had to hold my son to help him get a good latch, and my husband used it when feeding him a bottle as well.
Over the door organizer
For all those little odds and ends! A standard diaper caddy was useful as well, but putting an over the door organizer on our hall closet gave us a handy place to keep extra containers of wipes. I also used it for the diapers from the current box that didn't fit in the caddy, an extra swaddle blanket, spare socks. My leftover toddler proofing supplies like outlet plugs are still in there as a matter of fact! I wanted to be sure they'd be somewhere I wouldn't lose them, and I see that organizer all the time so their location stays fresh in my mind when I need one. I also use one as half of my toddler activity center, so it's definitely an item that can be used for years.
The very first time we tried to put our son down for a nap, we discovered that the place I'd picked out for the pack n play was DIRECTLY under the air vent. Every time the air kicked on he'd get a breeze on his face and wake up crying. It was both terrible, and completely avoidable. To this day I have a deflector in both kids rooms and one in our room.
White noise machine
Speaking of things that are still in my kids rooms... white noise machines! There are a lot of options, I love this one because it's economical, lightweight, has several sound choices (ocean waves is my favorite), and can run on battery power if we'd ever need that feature when traveling. Oh traveling, remember that? Man oh man.
Hakaa-style Manual Breast Pump
I'll be real honest here, when I first started putting a draft of this list together I hadn't delivered my daughter yet, and I jotted it down halfheartedly. With my son, this really didn't do much for me even though I knew friends who swore by it. I'd put it on one side and nurse on the other like the directions and reviews said to, but only got a few drops, maybe a quarter ounce at best. Then I had my daughter, and got my Hakaa-style pump back out figuring I'd give it a shot. That first time I collected over 2 oz from the other side! I routinely got half an ounce to two ounces, which allowed me to add a few Hakaa sessions together throughout the day to form a spare bottle for my freezer.
There are a lot of good choices out there, but there are four key features to look at. Does it have a variety of interior section sizes? How about exterior pockets for diaper cream? Is there a handle to carry it from the nursery at night to the living room during the day? Is it easy to clean? You want to pick one with all four, like this one.
This is the most expensive baby item on this list, and is absolutely priceless to me. You see, my grandparents lost one of my uncles to what today we would call SIDS. During his naps I was routinely checking on my son to watch his chest rise and fall, and at night despite being deliriously exhausted I had trouble falling asleep, terrified that I would wake up to the worst. The Owlet provided me peace of mind and allowed me to get solid sleep during the few hours between feedings.
I guarantee that at some point baby will soil themselves while mom is out and about. A wet bag provides a space to put the dirty diaper (if needed) and clothes away from everything else in the diaper bag until they get home. I also used mine for wet swimwear when we first started doing parent and me swim lessons.
Munchkin diaper bags and dispenser
Now, when my son would just need a fresh diaper but not a new outfit, I would use these diaper bags in certain situations. Occasionally I would just pitch the diaper in the trash, but our pediatrician office doesn't allow any diapers to be disposed there, and they also want baby in a dry diaper for weight measurements meaning I'd use one almost every well check. And there are a LOT of well checks those first few months! The few times we flew and needed to change a poopy diaper on the plane, these were critical in the entire lavatory not smelling like a diaper pail.
Kimono style tees
Don't get me wrong, onesies are great- PSA they roll down off the shoulder to take them off for blowout situations- but you still have to put them over baby's head to put them on. Some kids, like mine, absolutely HATE that as babies. Kimono style tees wrap around the front so they don't go over the head. Before he was rolling and moving my son spent a lot of the daytime hours in these with his bottom half loosely swaddled- which was a lot easier for accessing the diaper than baby pants.
Sleep and Play Sleepers
Every mom seems to love these, including me. These also don't go over the head, fully cover baby, and are absolutely adorable. Just please, for mom's sake, pick out one with zippers. Changing a diaper in the middle of the night without turning the lights on enough to wake baby fully is already a challenge, adding snaps to that endeavor is just cruel.
I'm sure I have some other blankets, but these are the ones I used exclusively. Lightweight and soft, they are useful for so many things! Swaddling, covering the stroller to keep the sun from shining in their face too brightly, protecting your shoulder from the inevitable spit up. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nothing in baby's crib until age 1, once my son was at that age this felt like the safest blanket to give him since it was so breathable.
Swaddle blankets are great (and versatile!), but these are SO much easier in the middle of the night. Some, like these ones, even have a zipper on the bottom so you don't have to remove the swaddle from their arms for a diaper change! That zipper was a game-changer with our second born.
Back in 2017 when Babies R Us was still around, I drove to one to buy a WubbaNub. I could not wait for 2 day shipping. The slight weight and structure of the toy helped keep it on my son's chest when he fell asleep, rather than the pacifier by itself rolling away the second he opened his mouth. Naptime, and my sanity, was restored. The small stuffed animal also became his first comfort object well after he stopped using the pacifier.
Quilted Pack 'N Play sheets
Mom is probably registered for a pack n play, which are wonderful! However, they come with rather hard, very thin mattresses. Thankfully, there are also quilted sheets for them which provide some cushion and make the mattress considerably more comfortable.
Pack 'N Play changing pad covers
Clearly, these are made for the changing pad section of a pack 'n play. After all, that's what I first got them for! And they were great for that, until approximately 3 seconds later when my baby exceeded the weight limit for the PnP changing section. Then I discovered how useful they were as a second layer on a normal changing pad! Blowout, or mid-change pee? Odds are pretty good only this cover got dirty, and it's way faster to throw this one in the wash and lay a new one down on top of the still-clean elastic cover than to change a traditional one. I wash my traditional changing pad covers pretty infrequently since these take the brunt of my kids changes.
OXO formula dispenser
If mom plans to formula feed, or is supplementing like I needed to with my first, this is the best dispenser for a diaper bag. Once baby grows out of formula, it makes a great on-the-go snack keeper too! I routinely use it to haul Cheerios around with us.
Baby breeza formula mixer*
There's an asterisk here because I *personally* haven't used this. However, my friends that primarily formula fed and invested in one absolutely rave about it. Of course, only give this as a gift if you're sure mom plans to formula feed.
One more asterisk, again that's because I *personally* haven't used the unbuckleme. I keep my nails short and have good hand strength, so getting my kids out is easy enough. This is a good gift for someone who often has long nails that make it hard to press down far enough on a carseat buckle, or who has very involved grandparents who may find this easier.
This depends on mom and her personality. Some moms really want and prioritize those professional shots taken every few months. I get it, they are beautiful! For others of us, the reality of setting an appointment and getting out of the house to do that is well, not a top priority. I am still thrilled with my decision to get a basic Canon Rebel DSLR with a good auto mode. It still works like a point and shoot for inexperienced photographers, but takes nicer pictures than my phone. When I do monthly photo shots that first year I take a few shots on both. The phone for social media, and the DSLR for nicer prints. With any luck it'll last me well past when my kids start begging me not to take their pictures!
The Best Gifts for New Moms of Rollers and Crawlers
Mom has her feet under her and is out of the so called “fourth trimester”. Of course, baby is growing and changing, and the tools we moms need as parents change with them. These are what I found useful once my son was starting to eat more than breastmilk/formula.
Sippy cup straps
I do not want to imagine my life without these. You know what kids like to throw when they are in a highchair? EVERYTHING. Making it so the sippy cup only goes a few inches instead of to the floor is life changing. I will not take it back, and I am not exaggerating. Life changing. They are also fantastic for keeping toys attached to the stroller.
Word to the wise, mold is gross. And dangerous. That's why my favorite bath toy has no holes to let water in and squirt it out. I used to have some ones that squirt, but it just isn't worth the risk. So now we play with toys that dry completely, and of course, bubbles.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says no blankets for a year, and baby is too old to swaddle once they can roll over. Enter the sleep sack! I have a variety of sleep sacks, because I use one every night from when baby first starts rolling until they can climb out of the crib. And sleep sacks can actually help keep a toddler in their crib longer, since they make it harder for little one to get a leg over the side of the crib.
Halo brand are the most widely known and for me, they've held up through washing the best. I also love Aden and Anais which still function well on kid #2, the zipper just looks a little rougher. They're also muslin so lightweight, which makes them great for summer. Budget wise I like Hudson Baby which again are still very functional for my second kid, but the print has faded and the zipper is stiffer than it used to be. My Carter's sleep sacks have also held up well, the downside with them is they only have 2 sizes.
Reusable food pouches
Remember what we talked about with bath toys? Mold is gross. Eventually, ANY reusable food pouch will get mold in a crevice, so the best ones are dishwasher safe but don't break the bank. I can't remember how many of these I looked at before finding these, but they're my winner. In fact I love them so much I wrote more about them here.
Silicone Teethers (with no weird filling)
Teethers are always useful, because babies are constantly using them once teething begins. They also tend to warm pretty quickly if mom freezes them for extra relief, and get dropped often. I know I have had a few teethers that had a gel type filling which was meant to keep them cold longer. Unfortunately, once baby has that first tooth come through they can potentially puncture into that gel and consume it. I tossed more than one when I noticed air bubbles in the gel that hadn't been there originally. I recommend sticking with the ones they can safely use throughout the teething process.
Another type of "teether" I use ALL THE TIME is technically a feeder. These Munchkin mesh feeders are a great way to introduce foods while ensuring baby doesn't choke on the contents. They're also the perfect way to give a baby or toddler an ice cube- or frozen fruit- that they can go to town on when teething.
Indestructible or fabric books
Fabric books are super common for the first year, and are great. I especially like ones with fun accents in them like a mirror, or interesting textures to explore. As baby gets closer to toddlerhood, I adore the Indestructibles series of books. They're thin so the pages turn more like a traditional book, but they're also rip-proof and machine washable. My now three year old has stopped intentionally tearing book pages, but he hasn't stopped flipping through these.
Silicone grippy food mat
This was a lifesaver when eating out with my son the first year or so of him eating solids. The mat has multiple food compartments built in that act as a kid plate in the middle of it, and suction cups to keep it secure to the table. or high chair tray. At home it gave him some practice using a "plate" instead of eating directly off the tray, and at a restaurant it kept him from throwing it. Plus, it was a little bit of home and consistency in a different setting. It also fit in a gallon ziplock container to make it easy enough to transport back home in my diaper bag. While my son did eventually figure out how to unstick the suction cups, they are reasonably strong so it took him longer on this mat than others.
Mom is probably registered for a travel system with a nice stroller. I love mine. I love it for the newborn phase, or if we have a long day planned where I'll need to lay it all the way back and let a kid nap in it. But sometimes it's overkill, and I don't need the big bulky stroller. For shorter outings it is so much easier and more convenient to have something lightweight. My stroller is similar to this one, which I find is a great balance between features and size. While much smaller and more compact than my big stroller, unlike a true "umbrella" stroller it still reclines, there is a bit of storage space, and it has a nice sized canopy.
The Best Gifts for ANY New Mom
In that first year of this adventure we call motherhood, the best gift is time. Time to sleep, or shower, or eat with both hands. This year that is a bit challenging to provide since you can't take the baby off her hands for a nap or shower from 6 feet away, but these gifts are always welcomed.
- Wine (or coffee, or ice cream)
- Amazon gift cards/prime membership
- Baby/toddler socks
- These grippy socks are what my 3 year old is in- he has GIANT feet and these make them in larger sizes
- Gift cards for food delivery or her favorite take-out (bringing meals is great too assuming you’re local)
- Gift certificates for a cleaning service (or if you’re really close, coming over and cleaning yourself)
- Developmentally appropriate toys that are NOT loud- look for two sound volumes on noise making toys.
- Bead mazes like this with suction cups are especially nice, because they can stick on a high chair tray and occupy baby for a bit while mom cooks.
This is an absolutely spectacular list!
Anne Aslanides says
Thank you so much Susan! I know I'm biased, having personally used and loved almost everything on the list, so I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
Wubbanub is the best!!!
Anne Aslanides says
It really is! I remember being a little sticker shocked since a toy that size isn't usually over $10 (and the pacifiers aren't expensive), but I have 3 and they've been worth every penny!