I haven’t talked much about this here, but I don’t have children. I don’t want children and never have. The thought of being responsible for the survival of a tiny, helpless tyrant on a full-time basis is basically my worst nightmare. As such, the Halloween season seems to be the ideal time to talk about babies.
This is not to say that I don’t like kids; kids are great and hilarious, and because there seems to be at least one pregnant woman in my life at any given time, I end up going to a lot of showers and sending a lot of baby gifts. I do my best not to be lame, so here are a few of my favorite gifts. Some sense of humor may be required.
I like to read and most of the people in my life share my love of books, so they’ve become some of my go-to gifts.
- What to Expect When You’re Expected: A Fetus’s Guide to the First Three Trimesters by David Javerbaum – I love this book for a lot of reasons, not least among them is that if you’re not paying close attention, it’s easily mistaken for yet another chapter in the What to Expect… series. Obviously, a fetus can’t give its perspective about pregnancy, and the whole thing is utterly ridiculous, but I’ve sent this to all of my friends with healthy senses of humor. I also sent this to my sister before she had her first kid. She wasn’t amused.
- The Baby Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance (Owner’s and Instruction Manual) by Shaun Gallagher – People are always saying that babies should come with owners manuals, and now there is one. I’ve sent this to a lot of dads in my life, and the feedback has been positive.
- Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid by Shaun Gallagher (again) – I hear that hanging out with a baby all the time can get a little boring, especially when they’re itty bitty and don’t do much. Now you can fuck with your baby, for science!
- The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne with original illustrations by E.H. Shepherd – I love Winnie the Pooh, and at the risk of sounding like one of those cheesy posters, I really learned all I need to know about life from Pooh and his friends. I’ve been reading these stories since I was tiny, and like the other 19th and early 20th-century British children’s literature that I love, I feel like these stories helped shape the adult I’ve become and I want to share them with all of the kiddos in my life.
I actually don’t really like buying kids toys, but I’m a sucker for cute fuzzy animals and lovey blankets.
- Winne the Pooh – in keeping with the cute Pooh theme, I generally gift this fluffy friend when I’m giving someone the aforementioned Pooh book. I’m partial to the original Pooh since it matches the book, and this one is super soft and durable. I hear that’s important for longevity.
- Loveys – these are those small blankets with stuffed animal heads. I find the term ridiculous but the actual loveys are super cute and I love gifting them. None of the kids in my life have received any basic bitch loveys like lambs and bunnies; no, Aunt Teresa likes weird animals, like sloths, llamas, unicorns, koalas and sock monkeys.
Clothing and jammies
I have this thing about giving my nieces and nephews super cute pjs. I’ve been doing it for my nephew since his first Christmas, and it’s carried over to all of the other kids. The cutest things have come from the most unexpected places.
- Disney – for years I gave my nephew monogrammed pj sets for Christmas. I’m pretty sure my sister liked this more than my nephew, but he always looked super cute in them. He’s also gotten superheroes, Toy Story, and Darth Vader. Sure this stuff is a little more expensive than the licensed stuff from Target or Walmart, but it’s good quality and made to stand up to kids.
- Old Navy – have you checked out the baby stuff from this store lately? I’ve gotten a ton of insanely cute stuff for kids here. My nephew was the lucky recipient of multiple Halloween outfits, including a glow in the dark skull bodysuit and a fleece dinosaur outfit. When we found out my sister was having a little girl, Aunt Teresa went HAM: tutu dresses, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and The Beatles t-shirts (that they sadly no longer carry), teddy bear hoodies, literally all of the things.
- Superheroes – I have a thing about superheroes, especially for my nieces. At some point, they’ve all been given girly versions of male superhero outfits, like Batman and Superman. I don’t know man, they’re just fucking cute.
Don’t forget the mamas
It’s extremely rare that someone at a baby shower gets something for the mom; you know, the person growing the new person. I don’t know why this is a revolutionary idea. Hey moms, you’re people too and you deserve nice things.
Beauty products – this is my jam and I know it’s what y’all usually come here for. We all know that some of our favorite products can have gross chemicals, parabens, sulfates, whatever. While not great for adults, they may be especially harmful to developing fetuses. Studies haven’t definitively proven causation over just correlation, but why not take some precautions just in case?
- Belly/body butter – I mention this first because stretch marks seem to be a thing pregnant women worry about a lot. A general loss of skin elasticity affects us all eventually, and something like Glow Organics or Burt’s Bees belly butter can help keep skin soft and help with the stretching.
- Body washes – it didn’t occur to me at first because body wash stays on our skin for so little time, but there are ingredients in a lot of them that can strip the skin of natural moisture and greatly increase the need for lotions and body butter. One of my favorite natural soaps is Dr. Bronner’s. I like the lavender version, but it contains essential oils that can cause irritation for some people, so if you have sensitive skin or you’re not sure how pregnancy might affect your skin, go with the unscented version. A big bottle lasts me a few months.
- Moisturizers and eye creams – pregnant women are supposed to avoid retinol, which sucks because it’s in some of the best and most widely available skin and eye creams. Natural, organic skincare can cost an assload, especially if you’re looking for it in a place like Whole Foods or other specialty stores. Sure, you can go with the old standby of Burt’s Bees, but their skincare has increased in price and, in my opinion, decreased in quality over the last few years. We now have the brand LilyAna Naturals, a family owned business that selling natural, vegan, cruelty-free skincare exclusively on Amazon. Right now the line only has four products, but the face and eye creams are both safe for pregnant ladies. Also how cute is this packaging?
- Deodorant – I hate to be a bummer, but deodorant is one of the grossest and most toxic things we put on our bodies. We literally coat our armpits in aluminum and Cthulhu knows what the hell else, just to prevent sweat and natural body odor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sweaty so I totally understand why this is a thing, but it’s not ideal if you’re trying to grow a person. I’ve recently switched to natural deodorant, and while it’s a bit of a process (armpit detox man, it’s an actual thing), I really think that it’s worth it. I’ve tried two different formulas from Lavanila, Vanilla Passionfruit and Sport Luxe, and while neither is spectacular, I don’t smell *that* bad. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know. Check out this list for some thoughts on other brands. I think I’ll be trying the Schmidt’s next.
- Shampoo and conditioner – while this is an extremely personal and subjective category, I’ve heard from plenty of women that their hair turned to straw while they were pregnant. One of my favorite brands, SheaMoisture, has a bomb raw shea moisturizing shampoo and conditioner that also smells awesome and looks fancy enough for a gift basket, but it’s relatively inexpensive so if they hate it, it’s not the end of the world.
Shit for the hospital – hospitals suck. They smell weird, they’re noisy, everything is uncomfortable, and the food is awful. There isn’t a single good thing about being in the hospital and some women end up there for days when they have a baby, but you may be able to make it a tiny bit less shitty.
- Slippers – doctors and nurses are obsessed with walking. They encourage you to get up and move as much as possible, even when you’ve just had brain surgery (yup, speaking from experience). Since hospitals are constantly worried about falls and lawsuits, they make you wear these slipper sock things, like the ones we had in the 80s with puffy paint on them. The thing that makes them terrible is that they’re one size fits all with no shape, barely any elastic, and grippy things on both sides. They’re also really thin, and hospital floors are cold AF. So, I gift slippers. My favorites are called Snoozies, which is a stupid name but they’re super warm and grippy. I have a few pairs and LOVE them, especially my Michigan slippers, thus named because that’s where I bought them and the only thing to do there was drink. So many styles, so comfy. 12/10 highly recommend.
- Sleep mask – it is literally never dark in hospitals. Either you have a shitty roommate who wants to sleep with all of the lights on, or the nurse forgets to shut the door when she leaves after taking vitals for the 3,629th time and the hall light is catching you directly in the eye. It makes it practically impossible to sleep, and sleep is kind of a necessary thing after an entire human being has exited your body. So, silk sleep mask. Yes, it’s bougie. Who cares? It’s fucking nice and facilitates rest.
- Travel size personal care products – there may not be time for things like showers in the hospital and there will inevitably be a ton of visitors, so things like face/makeup wipes, dry shampoo, even mouthwash could help make the new parents feel a little more human during what is an extremely chaotic and exhausting time.
Do you have kids? If so, what are some of the things you wish you’d been given at your shower instead of that bottle warmer you used once? Should I add anything to my list for future baby gifts?