The white, intricately monogrammed baby gown my Italian friend gave my newborn son was gorgeous. And for one blissful hour — before his diaper exploded staining it beyond repair — he looked like a Sistine Chapel-worthy cherub. But let’s be real, it wasn’t practical. The Hanes 3-pack onesies were the real heroes in this party pooper parable. The truth is, your friend may love the $100 booties you give them, but what they need are durable, functional items. And the holidays are the perfect time to give them one of these
23 practical gifts for new parents.
Sure, we all love a 3-piece baby suit or delicate lace bobby socks. Those are great for a religious service or formal holiday family photo. But what parents will really appreciate are things like a bonus pacifier to always keep in the car or a Costco-size pack of Desitin. Heck, I would have jumped for joy to find a box of diapers under the tree on my son’s first Christmas.
In the midst of those first critical months with a newborn, when neither parent is getting enough sleep and every day feels like a small victory, it’s not the super fancy infant headbands or trending kicks — that Baby can't even walk, let alone stand up in — getting families through. It’s the breast milk leak collector a friend quietly throws in a baby shower present or the fabric baby wrap a generous aunt gifts. Take it from someone who has been there, these are the things parents really need and will be so grateful to receive.
1 The Pacifier
Confession: I was a WubbaNub addict. When my son was born, I bought him one of these pacifiers with a little stuffed animal attachment and quickly realized they were an essential item in my new mom arsenal — so I bought him three more. With one in each car, both my husband and my own diaper bags, and at the house, we always had one handy. Every parent could use a few.
2 Milk Collectors
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. These Lacti-Cups saved my breastfeeding experience. Rather than leak all over every outfit each time I nursed my son, these clever shells collected the milk so I could save every drop. Don’t judge. That stuff is liquid gold! A more personal gift for sure, this is a great item to give to a close friend.
3 Stylish Baby Bibs
People always talk about how sweet baby drool is and that’s true, it is cute, until your child has salivated so much their entire ensemble feels like a damp dishrag. Prevent massive moisture with these darling Kishu baby bibs. Made in 100% organic cotton muslin, they get softer with every wash and because of their cut, they look like mini bandanas, a hip way to prevent slobber.
4 Bath Essentials
There’s something to be said for a gift that makes any parent’s day a little easier. This Gentle Essentials Gift Set from Honest comes with multi-tasking essentials for the most sensitive skin types, including Face + Body Lotion and Shampoo + Body Wash. It also includes a 48-count of 100% sustainably sourced cotton dry wipes for a quick, gentle clean up. No need for extra wrapping paper: You’ll also get a small jute gift bag and your choice of tissue paper. Not to mention, it’s under $30!
5 Portable Clip-On Highchair
Whether the parents anticipate eating out as much as possible or being hermits for the unforeseeable future, a portable highchair is a dream. They can skip the messy high chair altogether and simply set a baby up at the home table. Easy to remove and clean, this chair makes dining a whole lot easier.
6 Carseat Canopy
Keeping baby protected from the sun is a something every new parent battles with. It’s no problem with Little Muffincakes super sweet carseat cover. Breathable in 100% cotton muslin, it will keep baby protected and comfortable.
7 Baby Nail Clippers
Clipping a baby’s nails can feel like disabling a bomb. Cut the wrong spot and you’re a goner. That’s why giving the gift of these Safety 1st Sleepy Baby Nail Clippers is so great. Not only are they designed for the tiniest nails, they have a built-in flashlight so exhausted parents can actually see what they’re doing. Trust me, baby and parents will thank you.
8 Cloth Diapers
If you know parents who have committed to using cloth diapers, then outfit them with some of the best from Crunchy Boutique, a store that focuses on sustainable products. Their comfy diapers come in a variety of patterns so you can give new parents plenty of options.
9 Shopping Cart Cover
Shopping carts are gross. Dozens of people touch them, drinks get spilled on them, random bits of food roll around in them. The last thing a parent of a sweet, clean little babe wants is to plop their child in that mess. So give them a shopping cart cover to prevent it. This one from Target is great because it includes velcro straps to help baby sit upright.
10 Boo Boo Buddy
While they might not need it until baby starts crawling, I still contend that gift new parents a boo boo cold pack early on is a great idea. Because once that first injury happens, there’s no time to race to the local Walmart to pick one up. Prepare them in advance of their child’s future hysterics by outfitting them with one of these.
11 Baby Teether
Teeth, you never know when they'll show up. But when they do, a parent better be armed with a teether, and fast. This genius teething ring comes from Pretty Please Teethers and is as attractive as it is oh so necessary.
12 Pack of Crib Sheets
One thing that’s easy to overlook as a new parent is how frequently you’ll be washing crib sheets. Accidents happen, like it or not, and in those cases, new parents need back up linens. This cute pack from Brooklinen lets you choose two patterns in a two-set pack
13 Nursing Pads
Even when you're not nursing, you can feel like your nursing, thus is the joy of lactation. Help a mama out with these nursing pads from Stina & Mae. Made of organic cotton and bamboo, they're waterproof and will protect against unwanted leakage.
14 Portable White Noise Machine
Called the miracle soother, the Baby Shusher, a portable white noise machine is small enough to throw in a diaper bag so whether a parent is on a road trip or at a friend’s house, they can quiet down a cranky baby.
15 Snoo Rental
Boy, I wish the Snoo had been around when my son was born. This amazing invention gently rocks a baby to sleep. Parents rave about it. The downside? It’s really really expensive. Thankfully you can now rent one, and what a gift that would be to tired new parents.
Believe it or not, a snotty nose can make or break a day when it’s a tiny infant suffering. That’s why the NoseFrida, a snot sucker, is an essential gift. For those unfamiliar, this Scandinavian designed tool allows a parent to basically suck the snot out of a baby’s nostrils.
17 Baby-Changing Station
Imagine the worst gas station bathroom you’ve ever visited. Now picture trying to change a baby’s diaper in there. Horrified? Same. That’s why a portable baby changing pack is a great holiday gift and this one from SkipHop has it all. Available in 9 colors, it can hold wipes, dipes, creams, etc. and then easily folds up into a little caddy that can fit within a diaper bag. Perfect for the parent on the go.
18 iRobot Roomba
Hear me out. A robot vacuum may not seem like a new parent gift, but oh dear reader it is. When in the midst of trying to keep a baby alive for the first time ever, home cleaning takes second fiddle. But with an iRobot Roomba, a new parent can simply hit the on button and watch it work while they feed, diaper, and play with their baby.
19 Travel Play Mat
Baby’s love to explore as new parents will swiftly discover. But where they do their exploration might be a cause for concern when on the go. Spare them the stress of letting them roll around a nasty floor by gifting them a sweet travel play mat. For infants, this soft forest creature themed mat is ideal.
20 Stroller Caddy
The biggest stroller mistake I made was buying one without a cup holder. For parents in a similar situation, get them a stroller caddy. This snazzy attachment latches on to the strollers handles and can easily carry toys, a drink, snacks, etc.
21 Silicone Bib
Meal time means upping the ante from just a cloth bib. To catch every last bit, a silicone bib with a trough at the bottom is the bet way to prevent mega messes. This graphic one from Ade & Ayo is "inspired by the talking drum known in the Nigerian language Yoruba as 'gángan.'" Even better, it's dishwasher safe!
And when all else fails, give new parents a couple bags of coffee, ideally from their favorite local joint. Trust me, they'll appreciate it big time.