“…I’m pregnant,” she says, with a baby on her hip. She is hesitant to tell you, because she is waiting for judgment, or maybe some good natured joke about how full your hands will be, or whether or not you know what causes this. (The internet is full of blog posts from young mothers sharing their frustration and fear about announcing pregnancies less than a year after a previous birth. Before you feel too bad about it, I’ve said those things, too.) She shouldn’t worry, because you are undoubtedly the type of friend who will just cry tears of joy with her and give her a heartfelt hug.
But when it’s time to buy a gift for her, it can be a little complicated. Sometimes it may not be. For instance, if your friend is expecting a baby of the opposite gender from her first, it may simplify things. (A tutu or adorable little flower engulfed sun hat is exciting after all of those overalls you’ve been looking at, or a cute pair of jeans for your new handsome amid the sea of pink in your dirty laundry basket may be a welcome sight.) But what about when it’s ANOTHER girl? Or even more complicated, what if this is a third baby? She has a house full of baby paraphernalia, and you have no idea what would be useful or welcome to her in this instance. This is the situation I find myself in. As of August, we will have three kids 3 and under. Since my husband is on staff at a church, caring congregation members will inevitably ask us what we need, or want to show their love for us by giving us gifts. And thank goodness they do.
It is easy to think that moms like me don’t need anything. Some people even think it is selfish, or in bad taste for a mom of 3-4 kids to have a baby shower at all. We have most (if not all) of the baby years staples. Pacifiers, nail clippers, furniture, bedding, enough receiving blankets to keep an army warm… But make no mistake, there are things we still need. Sometimes now more than ever!
Financial situations vary greatly, so you’ll have to be sensitive to that. Some families are barely getting by, and while they are still overjoyed at the thought of another sweet baby to care for, they may have had to swallow hard when they got that positive result on a pregnancy test, because the thought of squeezing more dimes out of nickels and making room in the budget is a daunting prospect. Others are able to amply provide financially for the new life they are welcoming in, but have other needs that may need attention, which I will address. Bottom line: ask before buying. If your friend tears up when you ask, “Would it be helpful if I gave you ____?” you know you hit a home run.
Sometimes the things that mamas like me need don’t fit so well on a Wal-mart baby registry. So here are some ideas I’ve had that may give you a good place to start when you’re trying to figure out what to get your pregnant friend with a happy house full of tinies.
1. A family, maternity, or newborn photography session
A photographer friend did this when I was pregnant with my first, and someone else paid for a shoot when I was expecting our second baby. It was was one of the sweetest, most thoughtful and unexpected gifts we received. Not all of us are really good about documenting the growth of our families, especially by the time the second or third (or fifth or sixth) kid rolls around. Giving your friend an opportunity to preserve sweet memories is priceless.
2. A pampering session
Moms of babies spend a lot of time caring for other people in their homes, and often neglect to care for themselves. A gift certificate for a pedicure, prenatal massage, or a hair appointment may be just what her tired soul (and body) need.
3. Date night
You can never have too many. Don’t just give her a gift certificate to a restaurant. Make her write it on her calendar in your presence, and find her a sitter for her kids. (Or watch those sweet babies yourself.)
4. Things for older siblings
Sometimes we don’t need things for the babies, but we do need a toddler bed, or a new pair of shoes for the (sometimes overlooked) oldest kid.
5. Car seats
Again, this may not always be for the newborn, but sometimes we need seats for the older kids to transition into so that the newborn can have the carrier seat. Car seats also expire, and so it’s an expensive item that may need to be bought multiple times throughout the baby and toddler years in a family. ALWAYS ask what type she is looking for, because different families have different needs, (such as tight seating arrangements in the car, which may require specific seats).
6. Season specific clothing for new babies
Sometimes our children don’t consult the family calendar to see which season will be most convenient to be born in, and they show up in the opposite season of previous children. This is especially common when babies are close together. She may not have a 6 month winter coat in any of those storage boxes!
They never end. Be sure to ask your friend if she wants disposables or cloth. Especially in lower income families, stretching the budget may mean cloth, or in other cases, families like to make different life choices and are environmentally conscious. You may think she’s nuts, but she knows what she’s doing, and we know you love her! So respect her decision and have fun looking at adorable diapers. (Because seriously, they are so cute!!!)
Always more batteries. A big pack of AAs, or if you are a REALLY good friend, Ds!
9. Gift Cards
Not every need can be anticipated. It is nice to have something to fall back on for the last minute holes that need filling.
No one wants to ask for it, but it is ALWAYS helpful. Not every item that moms want are available at Wal-mart or Target, which is what can sometimes make this preferable to gift cards. A personal example: I have been nursing or pregnant for over 3 years solid. And while my body is tired, my undergarments are even more so. It is almost impossible to find nursing clothes in a tiny town like mine. So $100 to spend on replacing the threadbare, elastic shot nursing bras that I’ve had in rotation for 3 years with no breaks would be great. But there isn’t a good way for me to tell that to the general public. (Unless it is in a blog post for the entire internet to read. So there ya go. But at least we don’t have to look each other in the eye right now…) Cash allows families to get the things they need that are hard to ask for. We are not spending it on alcohol to get a good night’s sleep. As tempting as that sounds…
My title said 10 gifts, but here’s a bonus, just for reading along:
11. A maid service
It’s a joke. …Mostly. I have heard of some lucky moms being given this unicorn of a gift. So if you feel like it, I doubt any of us would turn it down!!
Were you ‘that mom’? What did you need that was hard to ask for, or you didn’t anticipate?
If you’re a first time mom wondering where to begin with your registry, see my post about that here.