Brownie Points

Baby Gifts To Win The Baby Shower

Eyes on the prize: bragging rights.

The 2023 New Parents Issue
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I’m just going to say it: No one wants to bring an average gift to a baby shower. When it comes time for the parent-to-be to open their presents, you want your gift to elicit a chorus of oohs and aahs and perhaps a few audible gasps. Sure, that pack of burp cloths is bound to come in handy, but no one is holding that up above their head and saying, “Can you believe how cute this is?!?”

This might be completely self-serving (and a touch performative), but who cares? The guest of honor comes out the biggest winner in this scenario.

Since we also want you to choose gifts that are genuinely useful, we’ve curated this list of stylish, indispensable, and long-lasting baby essentials, including a photogenic teether, a fashion-forward baby carrier, the latest high-tech car seat, a top-of-the-line stroller wagon, and much more. This is also an excellent resource for anyone assembling a registry. If you include plenty of cute things in the first place, maybe your guests won’t be so tempted to go off-list.

Now, may the best gift win.

The Cutest Little Outfits

The guest of honor likely has a few bulk packs of pants and bodysuits listed in their registry, but you want to get them something really cute and not get in trouble for it. This six-piece bundle from Young Days is just the thing. The pieces are practical, and mom-to-be will proudly hold up each piece Rafiki-style to the most high-pitched, gleeful sounds.

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This 100% cotton “Book Lover” onesie from Kido Chicago and super-soft, non-itchy cashmere hooded cardigan from Quince are sure to be wardrobe staples.

The High Chair That Will Last Them Till College (Really)

Most high chairs are made for babies who can sit up independently, which means it might be six months before parents can actually put it to use. The iconic Tripp Trapp from Stokke can be used at the newborn stage (with the newborn insert as shown above), then during the baby/toddler months (the $90 baby set kit transforms it into a traditional high chair), and beyond. The adjustable seat and footstep make it easy and safe for children to get up and down from their seat independently, and it’s comfortable for people of all sizes — even adults.

The Gift New Parents Always Need Stocked

Designed with a curved shape to help eliminate gaps at the legs and waist so your little mover will feel snug and secure during every adventure.

The Stroller Blanket They’ll Treasure

Even though babies can’t sleep with them until they’re at least a year old, parents will love having something soft and special (and photogenic) to keep baby warm when they’re out for a stroll, to lay on a questionably clean surface, and to block the sun’s glare. These personalized blankets from BaubleBar come in a ton of colors and patterns and are not so precious that you can’t throw them in the washing machine. And as the child gets older, they’ll love having their own blankie for bedtime, family movie night, and the like. At 38 by 31 inches, it’s the perfect, manageable size to feel like a substantial coverlet but still small enough to tote around everywhere.

Pajamas That Make Midnight Diaper Changes Easy

I’ve tried a lot of kids pajama brands, and Mori makes by far the softest ones in the most serene tones and patterns. Other important factors to look for in baby pajamas, especially for newborns, are attached footies (to help keep their toes warm) and a double zipper that opens from both ends — which is very convenient for diaper changes.

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Spearmint Love’s bamboo windowpane-pattered footie and Old Navy’s cotton cloud print one-piece both have fold-over mittens to help keep baby’s hands warm and to prevent scratching.

The Gift For Mom She Didn’t Even Know She Needed

For the mom-to-be who’s adamant about buying as few maternity clothes as possible and did not add anything for herself to the registry, this style of cardigan (long, loose-fitting, with a lot of excess fabric at the front opening) will become a wardrobe staple during later pregnancy and postpartum. The generous lapels do double duty as a nursing cover and baby blanket (great for baby-wearing on chilly days) and a barrier against the sun on bright days. An expecting mom will love that you bought something for her (instead of the baby) and from the maternity brand for stylish moms, no less.

The Swaddle Blanket They’ll Use For Everything

Lightweight muslin blankets are essential because of their versatility. They can be swaddle blankets, towels, makeshift play mats, burp cloths, stroller covers, etc., and I’m not sure one family can actually have too many of them. The 100% organic cotton Love Swaddle is available in more than a dozen different color combinations, and the company, Lovevolve, has donated 28,000 blankets (and counting) to hospitals in the Richmond, Virginia, area.

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The Etta Loves Muslin Squares set is a lovely gift for art-loving fans of Keith Haring (and Haring’s black and white contrasting baby print is especially great for newborns). This Feels Nice’s swaddle blanket has the sweetest hand-painted astrology motif by illustrator Bridgette Zou.

The Pacifiers To Bring To The Hospital

New parents have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to pacifiers (There are just too many options and opinions.), and they probably didn’t even consider their baby might be particular about the nipple shape. This set of assorted pacifiers from BIBS is a genius gift because pacifiers themselves are a go-to for immediate comfort (They’ll feel like lifesavers when babies are fussy and parents are distressed.), and with four different nipple options, baby is bound to agree with at least one of them. Plus, these are really cute and decorative without being gaudy.

The Sleep Sack They’ll Want To Post On Instagram

Once parents are past the tight swaddling stage, they’ll need a way to safely keep their baby warm, and sleeping with a blanket is a no-go until baby turns 1. Enter the sleep sack. It’s literally a safe sleeping bag for babies (and sometimes toddlers). They come in all kinds of patterns and colors, but there is something really sweet — and photogenic — about this Gabrielle Paris option.

The Glider That Everyone Will Fight To Sit In

Two words: power recline. This actually attractive, reclining dream of a glider has a power panel on the outside of the armrest that allows you to adjust the recline, lumbar support, and head rest angle with the press of a button. A high back, which it has, is a key factor when selecting a comfy chair for late-night nursing, and a USB port on the power panel makes it possible to charge your phone at your fingertips. It has a generous 200-degree swivel range (another key point for comfort and convenience) and is covered in a buttery soft, stain-resistant, and moisture-repellant fabric (for obvious reasons). If ivory is too daunting a color, it also comes in gray, and a matching ottoman is available for $399.

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A couple more things to help them spruce up the nursery: A framed Mollygrams monogram print if you know the baby’s name (pictured here in Woodland font, but you can choose from ski- or coastal-themed options as well). And Chasing Paper’s adorable confetti sticker decals to jazz up a wall or piece of furniture.

The Teether That Makes Everyone Happy

Yes, there are millions of cute teethers out there, but what makes this silicone set from January Moon great is that it’s easy to clean, in a shape that tiny hands can actually grip, and comes with a clip to prevent the teether from landing on the floor time and time again. (The clip can be detached.) The bright, cheery colors make it easy to spot from a mile away.

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Both this cute butterfly-shaped silicone teether from Yinibini Baby and Epi Shrimp Teether and Clip set from LouLou Lollipop are made from silicone, which is super easy to clean.

The Storage Basket That Makes Clutter Adorable

It’s the pom-pom storage basket that started it all! Pehr’s canvas containers are amazing for their versatility: They’re lightweight, collapsible, and come in a variety of sizes. Parents use them for toys, Legos, books, as a laundry hamper, you name it. It’s available in a slew of eye-pleasing shades. (The canvas is a constant, but the poms come in a rainbow of different colors.) Even if this isn’t on the registry, bring this to a baby shower filled with baby essentials (from favorite board books to packets of diapers), and they’ll love you for it.

The Rolls-Royce Of Sound Machines (& Night Lights)

When it comes to nightlights and sound machines, the wifi-enabled Hatch Rest 2nd Gen is arguably the most in-demand one out there. The design is minimal and intuitive, and the settings are extremely flexible and customizable. For convenience, it has analog buttons on the device to control volume, light, and brightness, but controlling it through the app allows more specific settings. Choose from a library of sounds and a spectrum of light colors, set either on a countdown timer or to a wake-up alarm. For an additional fee of $5 a month (or $50 a year), customers can become a Hatch Baby Member, which grants access to a wider library of meditations, music, and even stories. That feature is probably not necessary for the parent of a newborn but surprisingly useful for the fussy toddler years.

The Humidifier That’s Easy To Clean (Really!)

Cool mist humidifiers might be one of the most annoying things a parent will need because they can be so high maintenance. This new humidifier from Vitruvi looks swanky and is actually easy to clean — parts of it can run through the dishwasher, which is a literal dream. It’s available in white, oat (an off-white, pictured above), and dove (gray).

The Ultimate All-In-One Bath Kit

It is quite possible this bath kit from Lalo actually has everything parents are looking for when it comes to bath time for babies (minus the toys): an easy-to-drain tub that can accommodate newborns and older infants (the infant insert is removable), a rinsing cup (with a handle!), a faucet cover, a toy bin, and a knee pad and an elbow pad (IYKYK). Anything that could be soft and cushioned is, from the lip of the rinse cup to the neoprene knee and elbow pads, plus it is all Instagrammy and chic. If you know the parents don’t need every single item, they can be bought a la carte or in smaller bundles, and all the items are available in coconut, Lalo’s version of white.

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No one can resist an adorable hooded bath towel, like this sunshine-themed cutie from Pottery Barn Kids. (Yes, it can be monogrammed.) And this whale-themed Baby Bath Bundle kit, a collaboration between Skip Hop and Oceanworks, is made using 70% recycled plastic that otherwise would’ve made its way into the ocean.

The Baby Carrier That Celebrities Covet

It seems like every celebrity who has given birth in the last few years has opted for the super chic Artipoppe carrier. It comes in some really cool, bold patterns, like oversized houndstooth, leopard print in various colors, plus an array of neutrals. And the materials are a level up from your typical mesh and canvas: velvet, cashmere, and silk. Don’t worry — it offers practical options like linen and hemp, too. It’s just a really nice, good-looking piece of baby gear that will make the guest of honor feel like a million bucks (quite possibly because that’s almost how much it costs), but hey — whatever makes Mom happy, right?

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Ergobaby’s Embrace Newborn carrier is a super soft and supportive option for the tiniest babies. Baby Bjorn’s Harmony carrier is a comfortable, ergonomic wear that parents can use through the toddler years (until their child is 3 years old, 40 pounds, or 39 inches in length).

The Car Seat That Will Last Till Kindergarten

This new car seat that never expires is quite the innovation. Babyark first took inspiration from nature, adopting the structure of eggshells and a woodpecker’s bone structure to develop this easy-to-install, futuristic-looking car seat. Military-grade technology and materials like high-tech, impact-absorbing polymer ramp up the shock-absorbing qualities, making it extremely safe and protective. It suits newborns as light as 4 pounds and kids up to 6 years of age or 65 pounds. That’s a truly great range in the world of car seats.

Editor’s note: If your guest of honor has a specific car seat on their registry, that should be your first priority because they’ve likely already done the research and added something that will work with the entire travel system they’re hoping for. But if there is a car seat vacancy on their registry, and you have the means to get them the Babyark, then this one has our vote.

The Sweetest Keepsake Box

This lovely, bookcloth-covered keepsake box from Pottery Barn Kids (which can, of course, be personalized), allows new parents to collect some of the most important totems and documents of their pregnancy and child’s firsts, such as ultrasound photos, birth announcement, first lost tooth, and more. It’s not the biggest box, so you know only the most important and meaningful papers, photos, and objects will make the cut. It’s also available in a rich navy blue.

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Even if the parents-to-be are not the type to post every achievement on social media, these cute baby milestone blocks from Petit Collage will come in handy for documenting in their personal photo album. Speaking of albums, a subscription to Chatbooks’ monthly photo albums ($15 a month or $180 a year) is a great way for parents to catalog their favorite memories in print form.

The Chic And Incognito Diaper Backpack

Single-strap diaper bags are, let’s be honest, not for everyone. They’re the opposite of ergonomic, often awkwardly shaped, and not always appealing to multiple caretakers in the mix. I’m a fan of the diaper backpack, and this discreet, minimalist option from State can be used as a commuter or overnight backpack after the diapering years. It has tons of pockets, can be personalized, comes in a variety of colors, and can literally do everything a diaper bag can do — just more comfortably and stylishly.

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New parents rave about this neoprene Dagne Dover diaper backpack (shown here in small but it also comes in large), and its boxy, rectangular shape actually lends itself well to toting around breast pumps. Itzy Ritzy is another coveted diaper backpack brand. This one isn’t too big, and the front flap zips fully open (like a suitcase), which makes rummaging through it quite convenient.

An Activity Center That’s Not An Eyesore

This new activity center from Tiny Love (and Target) is a toned-down version of some of the more garish and frenetic options on the market. The toys are detachable and can be used as tummy time distractions even before baby is strong enough to support themselves and sit in the center harness. A couple years down the line, this setup can be restructured to transform into a table and stool set, which means it can be used well into the little kid years.

The Play Mat They’ll Swear Was A Decor Choice

Baby play mats have come a long way since the primary-colored ABC mats of my childhood. Now, you can find options that are better-looking than the rugs currently in your house. House of Noa offers a range of non-garish choices — graphic patterns like the Little Nomad, shown above, in a few different colors, plus ones that look like expensive hand-knotted rugs. You can order them in different sizes ranging from 4 by 6 feet to 10 by 12 feet.

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Crate and Kids’ Woodland Animals Baby Tummy Time Toy is a quadruple whammy: It’s got contrasting colors that newborns can actually see, a mirror (babies are fascinated by them), texture (a sensory win), and it squeaks (to grab their attention). The Done by Deer Croc Cushion (it wiggles, reflects, and has chewable teething rings) is like a sensory party dressed as an adorable, totable reptile.

The Stroller Wagon That’s Sweeping The Nation

If you don’t have young children, you may not have noticed how popular stroller wagons have become — and I’m not talking about the red metal wagons of our youth. At beaches, amusement parks, even grocery stores, parents are opting for wagons over strollers because of their convenience, and the Veer All Terrain Cruiser is like the Mercedes of stroller wagons. It may not look like much, but it is super sturdy, foldable, and can easily fit two tots. It can be pushed or pulled and is compatible with most infant car seat brands. (A full list is here.) It takes like five minutes to set up when unboxing, takes less than that to fold down, and comes in an XL size, which can accommodate up to four littles. Additional accessories include a canopy (for shade protection) and storage basket. It’s a brilliant gift, especially for families with multiple kids.

The Stuffy That’ll Become A Beloved First Toy

You have no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a toy or stuffy, but this sweet unicorn from Gund is a great first toy. It sings a couple of songs (123 and ABC), says a few phrases (“Hooray, give yourself a hand” and “Hooray, that was fun”), claps, giggles, and its horn lights up. Just enough to keep a baby entranced but not too much for parents who will tire of more rambunctious options.

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Some toys double as great decorative objects, too, like this sweet knit French Bulldog rattle from Kido Chicago (a no-brainer if the expecting family has a Frenchie in their family). And Mudpuppy’s crinkle book is designed to clip to the stroller and rocks eight pages filled with simple, colorful illustrations for baby to study and squeeze.

The Crib Mattress That Will Please Even The Super-Researcher

A crib mattress doesn’t feel glamorous, but it’s one item a lot of parents stress about. It’s where their baby is going to spend a lot of time. Should it be organic? Is it non-toxic? Is it flame-retardant? (Do I even want it to be?) Is it firm enough? Soft enough? The questions and options can feel overwhelming. What makes the Newton Baby Crib Mattress so unique is that the core of the mattress itself is essentially 10% food-grade polymer and 90% air. Remove the machine-washable cover, and you’ll find a surface made of strings of the polymer that resembles a magnified sponge. Thanks to this unique design, parents can wash the mattress core in the shower, which is a real perk considering how many bodily fluids this thing will probably see in its lifetime.

The Diaper Pail They’ll Want To Pass On To A Good Family

Of all the diaper pails out there, I think I might despise the Dekor hands-free diaper pail the least — and I’ve gone through several “easy-to-clean” and “odor-proof” bins. This one is not painfully expensive and has the least offensive diaper pail burp. (If you don’t know what that is, I’ll leave it to your imagination.) And even though it offers special liner refills, parents can use standard trash bags with it, which is extremely convenient.

Obviously you don’t have to (and no one expects you to) show up to a baby shower with a fancy or out-of-this world present to make expecting parents feel celebrated. But there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to get them something really awesome that you know they’ll actually use and love.