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Gift giving is my love language. There is something deeply satisfying about picking out the perfect gift for someone and seeing their face light up when they receive it …or knowing their face will light up when they realize they needed it!
Back right before I had my daughter, I published my very first gift guide: 10 Gift Ideas for Moms-To-Be. I was pretty proud of it at the time, and while I still stand by my recommendations (they were pretty heavily researched after all), I have to revisit my suggestions now that I have a little more mommy experience under my belt.
Here are some of my favorite, must-have baby items that make the perfect gift:
We called this “the butt spatula.” Super weird item to lead off with, I know, but hear me out! I LOVE this thing because I can’t stand the feel of diaper cream on my hands–not even the natural stuff. This spatula makes it so you don’t have to touch the cream at all! It has a suction base, too, so it can be set down without residual cream getting everywhere. You can sterilize it easily, and when baby outgrows the need for it, suction it to your forehead and your toddler will find it hilarious.
To be honest, my daughter hated being swaddled arms in. It just wasn’t her thing. These blankets are still worth it though because they’re nice and big, perfect for swaddling if your baby is down with that, and very breathable–perfect for hotter climates and for covering the car seat or stroller on a bright day.
I’m pretty sure this is the third time I’ve recommended this on my blog and it certainly won’t be the last. I adore our sleep sacks, especially the Halo brand, which I found easier to put on than the SwaddleMe version. Their newborn sacks allow you to swaddle baby arms out, have a zipper that zips from the bottom up to make diaper changing a breeze, and don’t require any special origami skills to get the perfect swaddle! This wearable blanket eliminates the need for other blankets on baby’s sleep surface, which are a suffocation risk.
4) THIS MANUAL BREAST PUMP
I wish I had one of these when Little Bo was smaller! We got one when she was about a year old, and while it was still awesome, it would have been great to use this before she was wiggly enough to kick it off.
This parts-free breast “pump” is really more of a collection device. If you’re nursing, you can put it on the unused breast to collect additional milk during letdown. It does draw out some extra milk in addition to collecting it, which can make you develop oversupply over time if you’re not careful. For future babies, I plan to use this with a pumping bra, using the bra to hold the pump in place (rather than suction) to avoid drawing out additional milk, since I am already prone to oversupply.
This device is also awesome to help with hand expressing milk and to relieve engorgement without the more intense stimulation of an electric breast pump.
A FREE RESOURCE FROM MOM MAKES JOY:
If you will be a pumping mom, you’ll be glad you have some extra pump parts when the silly little plastic valves break and you suddenly find yourself with a pump that doesn’t have suction! Extra valves and a spare set of breast shields are an awesome addition to any mom’s pumping arsenal.
I researched bottle sterilizers until I was blue in the face before finally settling on the Avent Microwave Steam Sterilizer. Turns out once you initially sterilize bottles, you don’t technically need to sterilize them after every use. I wanted something lightweight, portable (for traveling, if need be), and easy to store someplace that wasn’t my counter top. This fit the bill perfectly, and it just the right size for sterilizing milk collection bottles and breast pump parts (the latter do need to be sterilized much more frequently). Medela makes some disposable steam sterilizer bags too, by the way, but I preferred this and it has held up very nicely.
What goes in, must come out! A mom can literally never have enough diapers. That is, unless she’s using cloth! We used a combination of disposables and cloth with Little Bo, but I’m hoping with any future babies to rely on disposables for only the first few weeks. There is so much to say about cloth diapering that it will have to get its own post. For now, suffice it to say my favorite brands have been Blueberry, Cotton Babies (makers of BumGenious pockets and Flip covers), and cotton prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers.
There are only a handful of widely-accepted “recommendations” that I don’t follow. Co-sleeping and bed-sharing is one of them. There are some who would call me reckless and question my fitness as a parent, but honestly, I’m too busy getting a good night’s sleep to care what they have to say!
First of all, co-sleeping only refers to having the baby in the same room as you, and the American Academy of Pediatrics actually revised their sleep recommendations in 2016 to advise that babies sleep in the same room as mom and dad for at least the first six months and ideally the entire first year of life to reduce the risk of SIDS.
When I first had Little Bo, I was all over that. I had read the research on co-sleeping and knew it made sense for our family. I wanted her to be close. But bed-sharing was where I drew the line. Until I read this article by Dr. James McKenna, who is recognized as the world’s leading authority on mother-infant cosleeping in relationship to breastfeeding and SIDS. I learned that there were safe ways to bedshare and certain rules to follow if you want to do it.
I was hesitant to try it, but when we did and got the best night sleep we had in weeks, I was a convert. In the beginning though, Little Bo was so little that even though we followed the safe co-sleeping guidelines, it was scary! So this in-bed cosleeper was a game changer. It has mesh sides, a metal frame that makes it hard to roll over, and gives baby her own little sleep surface. It’s also a cheaper alternative to the Arm’s Reach cosleeper, which is also great.
I have a Boba stretchy wrap, a Tula and a Lillebaby Airflow already, but what I want most for the next baby is a Baby K’tan. I loved my Boba, but it was honestly a pain to wrap. Not because wrapping is hard (it looks complicated at first, but is actually pretty easy once you figure it out) but because I’m short, and the fabric is so long! The Baby K’tan is like a fitted stretchy wrap–no wrapping required. Plus, babywearing is awesome for baby! You want to make sure you purchase an ergonomic and supportive baby carrier–i.e. NOT something like the Baby Bjorn carrier, which is notorious for being uncomfortable for mom and not ergonomic for baby. Check out my Babywearing 101 post for more details.
10) COCONUT OIL
Is there anything the coconut can’t do? The answer is no. Coconut oil is great for baby skin. No added irritating fragrances, no preservatives, no ingredients you can’t pronounce, and it’s all natural. Coconut oil is moisturizing and even works as an everyday diaper cream (although you might need something a little stronger to fight a bad rash). It’s also cloth diaper safe!
You won’t leak for very long, they said. Don’t even bother buying a ton of nursing pads, they said, you won’t need them.
19 months later, I still leak like a busted faucet whenever I have a letdown. A few months into breastfeeding I thought it made sense to buy washable nursing pads but ultimately decided against it figuring I would probably stop leaking soon, and who knew if I would even make it to my goal of breastfeeding for one year?
I revisited the idea again 8 months into breastfeeding but thought surely the leaking would end when baby really started to get into solid foods and my supply backed off. And besides, I was already 8 months in–why buy pads I was only going to use for a few more months at best?
One small fortune spent on disposable nursing pads later, and let’s just say next time I’m getting the washable pads.
Their nipple butter is to die for, and I so look forward to trying their teas! Do yourself a favor and gift your mama-to-be with basically anything by this company.
I don’t know where I would be without this wedge. I used it for everything. Perfect for under the belly when you’re sleeping on your side or wedged behind your back when you’re lying on the couch. I used it daily for months and couldn’t lie down without it! Only thing is this: Buy it early. The foam has a smell that’s not great that needs time to air out. Alternatively, the Snoogle was my second choice pillow, but beware: it’s big!
14) NURSING TANKS
You cannot have enough nursing tanks as a new breastfeeding mom. End of story.
15) THE NOSEFRIDA
Mommies either love this or hate this, and I’d guess 99% of the moms who hate this have never used it. What is it, you ask? It’s a snot sucker. You use the force of your diaphragm to suck out the snot.
I know, I know, that’s disgusting, right? Wrong! First of all, baby’s nose goes at one end of a long tube, and at the other end there is a filter. And then there’s another thinner tube that’s more than several inches long that mom puts in her mouth. There’s easily like a solid foot of tubing and a snot-catching filter between you and any goo, so no need to worry. What matters is: This thing works. And when you have screaming, congested baby, you’ll be glad you have this instead of the stupid little bulb that is your alternative.
16) AMAZON PRIME
I was too exhausted to shop with a new baby. I Amazon Primed that sh*t. Plus, there’s a ton of stuff to watch at 2am while you’re feeding the baby! I personally ended up watching all 10 seasons of Friends between the hours of 11pm and 4am.
17) BELLY BUTTER
So although technically stretch marks are genetic and not really preventable, I still can’t help but slather on some belly butter in the hopes that my skin stays a little more supple and resistant to stretching than it otherwise would have. Last time I was pregnant I mainly used Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter, and although I liked it, this next time around I’m excited to try Shea Mousiture’s stretch mark belly cream. Their other products are amazing too–especially their baby wash! Little Bo loves it.
18) A FEEDING BASKET
Fill a basket with feeding essentials! If mom plans to breastfeed, you can fill it with a water bottle (this one is a little pricey but my absolute favorite), snacks, nursing pads, nipple butter, extra pump parts, breast milk storage bags (these are my favorite), etc. If mom plans to formula feed, include extra bottles, a bottle brush, containers for pre-measuring formula, burp cloths–anything to make feeding easier! Mom can carry the basket with her around the house and it has everything she needs for feeding in one place!
What are some of your best gift ideas for mom-to-be? Anything I missed?
P.S. DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small commission on products purchased through these links at no extra cost to you. Rest assured I only promote products I use, love, and would recommend to a friend! Please see my FAQs and disclosure policy for more information. Thank you for your support!