by Colleen Davis
Source: Island Parent Magazine
Originally Published: September 2017
Are you attending a baby shower in the coming months? Now might be a good time to start thinking about potential gifts—for the parent(s) to be. Baby showers are notoriously baby-centred. That’s great. Babies are exiting and cute and smell mostly okay. After their arrival, though, the parents are upstaged. The first few weeks—months, years!—can be trying for new parents. Helping to make this time easier is the most precious gift you can give. So, how can you help?
Here are five ideas:
1. Cleaning service
There’s nothing quite like learning how to look after a new, fragile human being in a house you know is a complete disaster. When our daughter was born, I resolved to have the side of the room opposite the couch tickety-boo. If I was going to be spending five hours a day there, trapped under my sweet sleeping baby, I at least wanted the illusion of a clean house. What would have been better? A real-life clean house.
Most cleaning services have a gift certificate option, which is great for new parents. You can prepay for a certain amount of hours or rooms and the recipients can call upon the dirt whisperers when they’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. Because a baby now lives on the premises, make sure the service you opt for uses gentle cleaning products.
2. Postpartum doula
A postpartum doula provides evidence-based information on parent-infant bonding, physical and emotional recovery from birth, infant soothing and general newborn care. She will guide new parents through things like swaddling, baby wearing, diapering, feeding and baby’s first at-home bath. Most postpartum doulas include sibling management, light housekeeping and light meal preparation in their services. If it’s just a nap, a shower and some emotional support required, a postpartum doula has it covered. Hogwarts, shmogwarts. Doulas are wizards!
Depending on the person or couple you’re gifting the doula services to, you may want to look for certain credentials or specializations. Some doulas have more training or experience working with single parents, adoptions, multiples, teen moms, special needs infants and LGBTQ2+ families. If you know your gift recipient is planning to breastfeed their baby, consider a doula who is also a certified breastfeeding educator.
3. Food stash
Have you ever watched those reality shows about people who believe doomsday or the zombie apocalypse is scheduled for tomorrow? They hoard lots of food. They’re clearly confused. There is no better reason to stash obscene amounts of food than the imminent arrival of a newborn!
I wish I'd had the energy to make a dozen casseroles when I was pregnant. Instead I ate a dozen bags of salt and vinegar chips until I had a slew of canker sores to add to my growing roster of complaints. Pregnant women have better things to do than cook food that can’t be eaten immediately. Like eat food immediately.
If you give an expectant couple the gift of a cooler chock full of nutritious and delicious frozen casseroles, they will basically have to name their kid after you. The time and energy this gift saves them will be spent bonding as a family, in whatever form that takes.
If you’re not the cooking type, or you simply don’t have time to make a boat load of food, a gift certificate to a catering or meal-delivery service would be just as appreciated.
4. Cloth diaper service
I enjoy doing laundry. Everything is all warm and fresh and smells nice afterwards. Mind you, the dirty stuff doesn’t smell all that bad to begin with. Nobody—I repeat—nobody wants to wash still-kind-of-poopy cloth diapers. Luckily, there are professionals for that. If you know the expectant parents intend to use cloth diapers, a prepaid diaper service is an amazing gift.
Many cloth diaper services will provide a set amount of diapers and covers per week based on the age of the baby. They’ll also include a spiffy bin and a waterproof bin-liner that can be left on the doorstep for pick-up and replacement once or twice a week. If the parents decide to buy their own cloth diapers and covers, most diaper services will also launder those.
Cloth diapers need to be washed with special detergent, then sun dried and sprinkled with unicorn tears. A diaper service reduces the hassle and takes the load off laundry (and the sad unicorns).
5. Sleep consultant
When our daughter was about a month old, I started bragging about her being a great sleeper. “I’m not even tired!” I’d boast. “It’s easier than I thought!” I’d say. Seasoned moms would just smile and do the you-have-no-idea nod. Fast forward a year and a half and I’m the one doing the “smiling” and nodding (off).
Expectant parents probably won’t need a sleep consultant right away, but they’ll be grateful for the service months, maybe a year down the road. Even if the baby is a great snoozer, a sleep consultant can give parents the tools and techniques they need to prevent future sleep issues and maintain healthy sleep habits.
The gifts listed above are ones I wish we’d thought to ask for. The truth is, we didn’t know what we needed until I needed it. Gift registries are useful, especially if the shower is celebrating a first baby. Babies do require a pile of stuff and parents will need help acquiring it. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this: most of the stuff can wait. Support, confidence and bonding time are the immediate essentials for any new family. Pass it on.
Colleen Davis is a mother and only child who is still learning how to share pie.
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