What to Buy for a Baby Shower

I bet you thought you’d never see that on this blog. Well, I have an opinion on the subject. You see, I have been a guest at baby showers. I have had baby showers organized on my behalf. I have spent quite a bit of time with a young child in the past few years. And I just happened to go to a baby shower this weekend, so the topic is floating near the top of my brain.

The purpose of a shower…wedding, baby, etc…is to give people new to the game a head start. So, if you have been invited to a shower, or maybe just know a pregnant woman and you’d like to get her a gift, please do the following:

  1. Check the websites of major big box retailers in your area. Walmart, Target, Babys’R’Us all have gift registries, and if she’s registered, they will tell you exactly what she needs, and what other people have already given her.
  2. Ignore the clothes and blankets.

And now…(cracks knuckles)…I will happily explain why.

There is this phenomenon that affects the female consumer called “Cute Factor.” Marketers are well aware of it. You combine Brand New Baby with Cute Factor, and most women will throw their shopping savvy, their deductive reasoning, and a good portion of their awareness of time and space right on the floor. Newborn clothing is adorable, even more so when it’s girl clothes, and there’s all that lace, and satin, and cute little stitching on smocked bodices, and…STOP IT RIGHT THERE!

Please gather your misplaced faculties, and for the love of all that is holy, walk away from the clothes.

$10 at Kohl’s ($20 MSRP)

But babies need clothes, you say. Of course they do. And every other baby-drunk woman that knows the expectant mother is thinking the exact same thing. “OMG! That is SO CUTE! And it’s only $10!” This invariably results in said expectant mother going home from her baby shower with a dozen cute newborn outfits  just like this one that her child may wear once, if at all.


Babies grow very fast. In fact, if the child has a birth weight over eight pounds, he’s already outgrown his newborn clothes.  Add in the fact that he needs to eat every two hours, may be colicky at night, and in between feedings, changings, snuggling, and pacing floors, Mom has to find sometime to eat, sleep, and bathe herself. How many excursions warranting super cute outfits do you think mom’s going to feel like making in the first month? Church…there’s four at most. Studio portraits…one or two outfits, and many babies are now posing for those naked. The family may wish to skip much more than these outings, simply to avoid unnecessarily exposing their newborn to germs.

Aside from that, think for a moment about the baby. She’s the one who has to wear the clothes after all. She’s just spent nine months nestled in warm, soft mommy. And you want to put lace on her because it’s cute? Many mothers find it more convenient to keep them in onesies. (Buy those…in 3-6 or 6-8 month sizes. Mom will thank you!)

If you really want to buy cute clothes and help mom, buy 12-month or larger sizes. There are two reasons for this. Again, the child is going to grow very fast, which requires mom to purchase clothes to replace the baby shower gifts the child has grown out of.  Secondly, during the first year, baby is going to be teething, which may result is a WHOLE LOT OF DROOLING. Bibs are worn by many infants all day long to keep the moisture off of their clothes and skin. Anything cute on a top or onsie is going to be covered.  (If you want to personalize something…do the bib, not the onesie/top.)

D’s has 7. They’re his blankie-friends.

Blankets…same thing. There’re a lot of cute blankets out there. I have an entire box of blankets that I never used with my son because I was given so many of them. The ones that he is now clinging to as “friends” are waffle-textured receiving blankets. Mom will pick a few favorites. The rest may never see use.

So, what are great baby shower gifts?

Diapers. Babies go through diapers like mad, and they’re expensive. Find out what mom’s diapering preference is (which you may be able to figure out from the registry) and help get her stocked up.

All it’s missing is a bow!

Formula. Mom may have registered for a breast pump and all of the accessories. She may be planning to breastfeed. If it falls through, she will likely be an emotional wreck. Give her a bottle of liquid Similac with a card that says, “Just in case.” If she gets home from the hospital, and the baby won’t latch, she’ll have formula pre-mixed and ready to go. Enfamil has cases of glass bottles and disposable nipples which are great for newborns.

Crib Bedding. Sheets and mattress covers. Having a few sets will keep laundry from being an emergency activity.

Feeding/Playing/Other Gear. Bottles, sippy cups, snack cups, utensils. High chairs. Bumbo seats. Boppy pillow. Saucer toy. Jumper toy. Floor mats. Balls. Blocks. These are all things that Mom and baby will have a use for sooner or later.

Books.  Like baby clothes, board books are very inexpensive if you are buying one. And like clothes, mom may be buying more than one, which adds up.  Use a board book instead of a card with your baby shower gift. Write a message for the baby inside for him to read when he’s older.

Bath/Skin Care/Medicine. Babies will have gas, fevers, diaper rash, and runny noses. Mom will want to take them outside walks. They will need baths. Get Mom gas drops, Baby Motrin AND Tylenol (for fever maintenance, it’s sometimes necessary to alternate), Benadryl, saline drops (for noses), sunscreen, baby wash. For diaper rash, I recommend whatever generic version of Aquaphor the store carries.

If you do a little thinking out of the box,  you can come up with a great baby shower gift that Mom will appreciate for months, even years. And you can give her something cute…just do it with the wrapping.

Lots of everyday stuff put together + basket & tulle = very cute.

Okay…opinion vented. I can now go back to writing…if my darling child will go the f#&% to sleep. 🙂


11 thoughts on “What to Buy for a Baby Shower

  1. Awesome Wendy!!!!!!! I have always filled a diaper bag with stuff, Tylenol,gas drops, teething tabets, a bottle, a pacifier, diapers (size 1), baby wips, a toy, bibs, socks, a hat, band-aides, alcohal wips (for on the go cord care), diaper rash cream, and other stuff. After having my 3 kids, I was overrun by stuff I never used. So I just never gave things like I got, sad to say but very true.

  2. I also recommend a modern-looking diaper bag in a dark color, so stylin' moms & dads won't mind toting it around.There's also a special stank-inhibiting receptacle for used stinky diapers (the baby store have it) that the recipient greatly appreciated – when the baby outgrew it she used it for the cat's litterbox waste.For moms who get more blankets than they need, please consider donating them to a shelter for homeless or abused mothers.

  3. This is a great post! I agree with -almost- all of it. I disagree with the formula, as I think that might actually offend some of those "breast is best" moms. (I supplemented with my first, since I wasn't producing enough milk… but my pediatritian helped me with that one, and am planning to breastfeed #2 [due in March]–I'll supplement if I need to, but as a baby shower gift that's not wanted?)I absolutely agree with blocks and balls, diapers and high chairs, and all you said about clothes. Absolutely!I highly recommend Aveno body wash and "Butt Paste"–it's saved my you-know-what lots of times. Though, not literally! ;)Great post!

  4. Thanks! I debated including formula in the list for fear a nursing advocate would jump on me, but I do stand by the suggestion.When nursing failed for me, the only thing that prevented my husband from having to drive to the store to buy formula was a case of samples the hospital sent home with us. When my milk came in, I didn't produce enough to supplement the formula.I would give the formula as part of a larger collection of stuff, along with a letter sharing my experience. I would wish her luck and express my hope that she won't need to use it.Thanks so much for commenting!

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