Anyone who knows me knows that giving and receiving gifts is (one) of my love languages. Matching the perfect present with its ideal recipient and most appropriate circumstance gives me great joy. However, despite my well-honed gifting skills, for many years I struggled with what to give new parents when I visited to celebrate their fresh bundle of joy.
It always appeared as if new parents were inundated with stuff. From wipes warmers to crawling kneepads, every eventuality seemed well catered for by family and baby showers… did new parents really want another stuffed animal? Even if it was organic, fairtrade and handmade by a women’s collective in Bangladesh?
Not wanting to burden my friends with more, perhaps unneeded and unnecessary things, I often reluctantly ended up giving a gift card. For a passionate gift giver, this seemed like the lamest (and laziest) of options.
Then! I became a Mama myself and my gift-giving conundrum was, over the course of some months, completely solved! I finally knew the best gifts to give new parents and their newborns because I finally knew the things which were most cherished and helpful to me. As a new mother, it wasn’t so much about the actual physical presents but more about what they symbolised and how helpful they could be at a time of such change and transition.
Recently, a dear friend became a mother for the first time and putting together these favourite gifts – each useful in its own way – for her and her little girl fills me with happiness and love. I’ve given some version of these gifts to countless parents and, even years later, they will tell me how useful they were or how they are still cherished.
So next time you consider what to get a new baby and their parents, take it from me, it can’t get better than this.*
The Wonder Weeks – For The New Parents
This is a gift that keeps giving over that first roller-coaster of a year. An absolute life-saver and truly the only book that actually makes it easier to understand the new world of parenting a brand new person without any shaming or making you feel like you are doing it all wrong.
Based on long-term scientific studies undertaken by the authors on infant development, the Wonder Weeks pinpoint key times of development during a baby’s first year. As any sleep-deprived googling parent will know, just as everything seems to be going okay and you feel slightly confident in your skills/routine, all chaos breaks loose and overnight your gorgeous baby goes from contented to inconsolable.
I remember holding onto a wailing 4 month-old and thinking I broke the baby, but thankfully, a quick glance through this book quickly allayed my fears. Written in a accessible manner it reaffirms what your baby may be acting like (clingy, crying, anxious), how you as a parent may feel (upset, frustrated, guilty) and then explains exactly what is happening and why (this is normal, your baby is working on object permanence etc.) and the best part, it then suggests what you can do to help get through this stage and together move forward with new skills.
The Wonder Weeks is easily available from both independent booksellers and online retailers.
A Stylish Outfit – For The Baby, For Now
I know this one seems like a no-brainer of a gift but in truth, seriously stylish baby outfits bring so much pleasure to parents when they open them and then again when they dress their babies in them. I like to make sure the outfit is as close to complete as possible – including tights/socks etc so that it’s easy for a parent to pull onto their munchkin. The only thing missing from this ensemble is a pair of booties that I had decided to knit myself and then ran out of time to complete. It happens.
I try to stick with classic outfits but personally also appreciated well made clothing from different cultures – one of my favourites was an absolutely tiny wool Moroccan djellaba in which my baby looked like an adorable jedi. I still have it.
A Meaningful Children’s Book – For Baby, For Later
Also a go to gift, most parents love receiving beautiful children’s books for their babies. The key to making your choice memorable and cherished is to choose a book which is meaningful for both you, the parents and what you wish for this new soul. Thankfully, there are so many wonderful children’s book which speak to the universals of human experience and the beauty of this world, it isn’t difficult to find one that resonates.
This time we gifted To Catch A Star because this book holds a particular place in our own library as it was given to us by the very same friend with a message we then echoed in the new copy we gave for her daughter:
Many years ago, your parents gifted us this book with this reminder: That our tradition teaches us that when you have a noble aim, the entire universe conspires in your favour – whether it’s catching a star or reaching for them… may you shine with the brightest of stars and glow more everyday.
If you are feeling a bit lost about which book to go for, there are many great lists to point you in the right direction. I especially like the ones from What Do We Do All Day and We Need Diverse Books.
Panjeeri (Pajeeri) – For the New Mama
Last but not least, a post-partum superfood. I am sure some version of this exists in every culture, this specific panjeeri (sometimes called pajeeri) hails from the asian sub-continent and is a traditional preparation given to new and nursing mothers. Filled with powerhouse ingredients like ghee, nuts, gum arabic, melon seeds, lotus seeds and butea frondosa, panjeeri uses ayurvedic principles to help create a healing heat in the body, detox excess fluid and increase milk supply. A little goes a long way, and a small chunk will give a new mama the energy she needs to nurse and the nutrients she needs to recover – especially, if like me, she doesn’t fancy heavy meals or much food in the early days.
Panjeeri is a difficult thing to source/buy, so gifting this means you will most likely have to make it yourself. Many households have their own mix of ingredients and secret proportions they’ve tweaked to their tastes and truthfully, the best panjeeri I’ve ever had is that made by my mother-in-law – so tasty and delicious, I’d want to eat it even if I hadn’t just had a baby! She’s generously shared her method with me and hopefully I will be able to share her recipe on Mamanushka once I’ve perfected the making of it, but in the meantime a quick google search provides some solid looking alternatives including this one and this one.
*… or maybe it can? I am always on the lookout for new ideas so please leave your own absolutely favourite newborn/new parent gifts in the comments!