People hate it when you don’t find out or don’t share your baby’s sex before it’s born.
Why? Because they want to buy you things that are pink or blue.
For the first time in four pregnancies, I’m waiting to find out what I’m having. I’m using this to teach myself a valuable lesson in patience and I refuse to open the envelope with the answer, even though I carry it around in my purse every single day.
If you’ve never done this, let me prepare you by telling you that the rest of the world will hate you for not sharing your child’s privates with them as soon as you see two lines on the test. Maybe three people won’t, but the other 7.125 billion on Earth will.
Apparently, it’s impossible to buy things that aren’t gender-specific, and it frustrates people that most things are, but I’m here to make it a little easier for well-meaning gift-givers with nine ideas you can pass along for your gender neutral baby shower (or, as my younger counterparts often say, #teamgreen; picture them saying it while doing spirit fingers, because that’s how we roll).
1. The obvious choice: Diapers and/or giftcards.
You really can’t go wrong with diapers. At all. Keep in mind that most people will buy things the new family can use immediately, and in this case means newborn and size 1 diapers, so you might buy bigger sizes too. Gift cards, while certainly not as fun to open, are great because babies are expensive and sometimes you’ll really rely on having that extra $50 that’s not in your account.
2. Booster seats, like the Bumbo or Ingenuity, or a high chair.
When I was making my original plans for baby gear, a Bumbo was not on my radar. I’m not sure they were even around when I had Jenna nine years ago (tomorrow!), but I’ve never used one and I know I can get by without one. (Some moms loooove them, though; it’s personal preference.) However, when this similar seat by Ingenuity started showing up, I started reconsidering. It has a sturdier base and can be used at the table or on the floor, which meant double-duty (and being in a small house with five people means the more uses something has, the better). Bumbo has since come out with something similar, but it’s more expensive and, well, I just like the way this one looks.
3. Bottles and breastfeeding accessories, storage and care.
With my first baby, I used whatever was on the shelves. Cheap was great. I’m not sure if the baby industry changed or if I did, but in the years and with the babies that followed, I became more particular about what I used. I breastfed Jaylen mostly, and he rarely took bottles, but I used a lot of hand-me-down Avent bottles with Jenna. One of the first questions I received from a friend was about the types of bottles I’d use. I’m still on the fence between Tommy Tippee and Avent, and the person for whom you’re shopping might want something else (like Dr. Brown’s) if they have a preference. Ask. Bottles are great gifts because if the parents have a preference, the bottles aren’t going to be cheap.
If you don’t want to buy bottles, why not make a goody bag for the mama who plans on breastfeeding? Include nice-to-have items like lanolin, cloth or disposable nursing pads, and even the Lansinoh Breast Therapy pads (those, let me tell you, will end up being a good purchase; you can use them cold to relieve engorgement and pain and hot to help release milk from clogged ducts). Mama will also spend a considerable amount of time sitting around with a baby hanging from her, so she might enjoy a giftcard to purchase movies, books and apps from iTunes/Amazon so she has something to keep her entertained while the baby eats.
Another really cool gift would be one of the various ways and means to store breastmilk in the fridge or freezer. You can go with a tray, a milk storage system that allows the bags to lay flat (and flatter = easier to store after frozen), or even DIY a system from gift bags or small boxes that will ensure the oldest milk is used first. Some moms – like this one! – have pretty small freezers, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping.
4. Gift certificate for baby photos.
Who is Mom’s favorite baby photographer? Find out and get her a gift certificate that will cover a session plus prints. If you’re feeling pretty generous, or have a group that’d like to go in together on something, a great gift is a first-year baby plan plus money for prints. Even if Mom is a pro photographer, this is a great gift because (1) those first few weeks are hard enough without trying to get some great professional photos of your baby yourself and (2) it’s difficult to shoot your own family sessions (especially if you’re looking for a lifestyle-type session).
Also, I’m not talking about sessions with J.C. Penney or Sears or Picture People, I’m talking about professionals who aren’t cookie cutter corporations. I’m especially not talking about fly-by-night photographers who’ll shoot photos for $50 and put them on a disc (which is a clear sign that they’re new in the business, but that’s another rant for another day). Ask Mom, she’ll tell you who she likes (in the Tipton County and Greater Memphis Area, check out Emily Peyton Cook, Cristi Oswalt, Allison Rodgers or Jen Howell).
If you happen to have the pro photog mama who prefers to shoot her own sessions 48 hours after giving birth, you might ask if she’s interested in someone to shoot photos during baby’s birth or give her money to help pay for that huge, gallery wrap canvas she’ll certainly order (she likely won’t give you the name of her lab and I’ve never seen gift card options from professional labs, anyway).
5. A sling or carrier.
Many first-time moms don’t realize it, but slings are MUST-HAVES. Why? Because they’re AWESOME. Finding one that fits mama’s needs will be the biggest hurdle – does she want it adjustable or not, for instance – but, trust me, you can’t go wrong with something that allows you to carry your baby hands-free. Keeping baby close usually means less crying and a more productive mama. I liked carrying my babies in public because it also meant fewer well-meaning-but-germy strangers touching my kid (beware, the sling will get a lot of attention, or it does in Tennessee where fewer people use them). My mom and I DIYed a few adjustable pouch slings when Jenna was born and I was able to breastfeed her wherever I was without issue because I didn’t have to stop to sit anywhere and she was completely covered (we live in the Bible Belt where boobs are wrong unless they’re on a strip club or adult store billboard).
This time around I’ll be using a couple of pouch slings and I plan to
sew have my mom sew a few adjustable pouch slings for us as well (one that Jaiden and I can share, maybe one for Jenna and Jaylen to share), including one we can use in the pool since we live in it all summer (and our city just put a dome over our community pool, so hopefully we’ll be able to afford to use that when my parents’ pool is closed).
In addition to everything else I need to think about, feeding my other kids during the time period that I won’t feel like cooking because I’ll be too busy or sleep-deprived or whatever (as opposed to being lazy, which is usually the case) is on top of the list. Thankfully, this baby is due in the summer when we usually eat lighter fare that doesn’t necessarily require a lot of cooking, but having snacks and meals on-hand that don’t require a lot of work (or the use of the gas stove) would be a plus for anyone.
7. Swings and saucers and strollers, oh my!
You know what’s not gender-specific? Baby gear. There are activity mats, Exersaucers, strollers, swings, bouncers, rockers, car seats, baby monitors … you name it. Check the registry, Mom has likely included a lot of these items already. My friend Shanée said these rock n’ play sleepers are great, but I’ve never used one. That MamaRoo, though … whew … I saw one in action at Babies ‘R’ Us a few weeks back and it’s pretty slick, but maybe not for its $240-$270 price tag. I’m trying to win one over at Small Things Blog. You can enter only if you promise to win it for my baby. Ha. (I’m really not kidding. I thought about asking my lucky SIL Katie to enter the giveaway because girlfriend wins EVERYTHING.)
8. Memory keepers.
Moms these days … they can’t get enough of these milestone cards and stickers. What do you do with them? Put them on baby’s shirt and take a picture, upload said picture to Instagram and Facebook, then carry on about your month until the next babyiversary rolls around. I’m digging the Norman & Jules cards (which you don’t actually affix to baby’s clothing, which means you can resell or regift them once you’ve passed the milestones). I see the stickers everywhere, and they’re cute too.
The baby stage is so fleeting, that we always try our best to remember certain things, so baby books, handprint/footprint casting kits, a Project Life kit, etc. would all be great options. We’re lazy these days, though, so snapping a photo of your baby wearing a sticker or sitting next to a card is about all we can muster.
Toys are another obvious gift, am I right? I’m loving everything on the Norman & Jules site, like the Les Jolis Pas Beaux Mouse, as well as the plush animals my high school friend, Gail, makes at Bright Life Toys (the plush elephant is ADORBS, you guys).
Of course, there are plenty more gift-giving ideas out there, like savings bonds and contributions toward childcare, but these will get you started if you’re at a loss because you don’t know baby’s sex. If you’re set on getting something gender-specific, you might wait until after the precious little one has arrived and special order that monogrammed quilt, because there’s nothing at all wrong with waiting (I think etiquette used to encourage waiting until the baby was delivered healthy, actually).
Heads up, people who are buying for babies: Retailers have seemed to move away from offering a lot of yellow and green these days, because most people find out their baby’s sex immediately, but they redeem themselves by offering gray and teal (a win in my book).
What other gift ideas would you suggest?
(Note: I haven’t been paid or perked in any way, and none of these links is an affiliate link.)