The 10 Best Baby Gifts
10. Cloud B Twilight Constellation Night Light
9. BubbyBabies Blanket and Rattle Set
8. Baby Aspen Terry Shark Robe
7. Laugh and Learn Puppy
6. Cloud-b Sound Machine
5. Gund Winky Lamb Huggybuddy
4. Aveeno Baby Mommy & Me
3. Baby Aspen Five Little Monkeys Gift Set
2. Sassy Bumpy Ball
1. VTech Learning Walker
What Do You Get A Baby?
Some people are notoriously difficult to shop for. We all have that one person in our lives who, even if you put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into a gift for them, will seem unimpressed by its emergence from all that carefully applied wrapping paper. Either you were way off the mark, or you were so very on the mark that you went out and bought them something they already have.
Really, there’s no shame in either outcome. If you got something they already have, then you clearly have an amazing sense of who they are and what they want, even if you aren’t up to snuff on the inventory of their worldly possessions. Even if you get something that totally misfires, the chances are that it had more to do with mixed signals (or no signals) coming from them than it did with your thoughtfulness. Some people have walls up.
This kind of thing shouldn’t really apply to babies, though. They don’t have quite enough awareness yet to really discern what they like from what they don’t like beyond feelings of discomfort and feelings of comfort. If they find themselves wet or hungry, they’re liable to cry about it. If they’re all cozy and warm, they’ll probably just drift off to a peaceful sleep. Taste in food is probably the only thing they develop a real discernment toward in their early months, and nobody buys a baby a case of food as a present.
To clarify the category of baby gifts, it may help to take a look at an old adage from the entertainment industry. When a production of any kind — be it film, television, commercial, etc. — seeks to cast a child, they’re really casting the parents. If a child has the look a director or producer wants and they seem even slightly pliable, then they can usually get the job done. The biggest differences come among “set parents,” who can either be the more insecure and demanding than the biggest divas out there, or they can be the perfect ally in capturing a great performance.
The same can be said for buying a baby gift. The kids barely know what it is you’re placing in front of them, but the parents sure do. If they don’t like it, you can be sure the kid will never see it, and will never get a chance to like it.
How To Buy The Right Gift For A Baby’s Parent
If it’s true that any gift you buy for a baby is primarily evaluated in the eyes of the parents, then it’s their tastes and preferences you should keep in the front of your mind as you evaluate the options on our list. What might thrill one parent to receive may cause another to blacklist you from all future events involving the child in question.
For example, there are incredibly engaging toys on the market that come in a slew of vibrant colors. They have flashing lights and a litany of interesting sounds, and many have the potential to add a little educational flair to playtime. And I have a dear friend in Maine who hates nothing the way he hates these types of toys. His son is almost three now, and I was fortunate enough to know the couple to the extent that I avoided getting them one of these contraptions. Instead, these parents prefer soft, simple toys for their child that maintain an atmosphere of peace and tranquility (as much as can be found in a house with a newborn, anyway).
Other parents, however, see this mindset as elitist and counterproductive. Our world is getting busier, louder, more colorful, and decidedly more distracting by the day. Many parents believe that depriving a child of toys that might prepare him or her for the world into which they will soon grow up can put them at a significant cognitive disadvantage.
A final important consideration — one that few parents even thought about a couple of generations ago — is the issue of gender in gift selection. Many parents today prefer to keep their children’s toys and clothes as gender-neutral as possible, both to keep gender norms from impinging upon the development of their child’s identity and to prepare the child for a world in which the concept of gender is becoming more fluid. Of course, there are parents out there who want to raise their children to meet the gender expectations of their sex, and if you get an intentionally gender-neutral (or gender oppositional) toy for a child of these parents, your friendship may very well suffer.
Buying For The Actual Baby
If you have a particularly close relationship to the baby in question (maybe you’re a parent or godparent, close aunt or uncle), then you might not have to worry so much about how the parents might react to certain types of gifts. You also probably have an inside track on how the child is developing and what their needs may be. As such, you’re in a position to buy with the baby in mind, and not the parents.
Babies’ skin is extraordinarily soft and smooth, except when it isn’t. Issues like diaper rash and other skin ailments can make their first year of life rather uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are all kinds of products out there that can help ease their suffering and bring their skin back to its natural, healthy state.
Some babies are very clingy. They may suffer from mild separation anxiety when their parents or caretakers leave the room. A high-quality stuffed animal might just be the ticket to keep the little one feeling safe and sound. Just don’t leave these in the crib with the child, as they can increase the risk of suffocation.
If the child has begun teething, any device that can mitigate the pain and discomfort this causes would be most welcome. These can be classic teething rings or more modern incarnations. Just know that if you get the kid a bottle of rum for its parents to rub along the gum line, most of it is liable to go to the grownups.