When it comes to gift giving, we know it’s the thought that counts. Most friends and families of expectant parents want to send more than just good thoughts though. They want to help, but how? Long Island Mamas asked new parents their thoughts and have identified the best baby gifts friends and family can give in lieu of other less useful presents. We’ve also listed where to shop locally on Long Island for these items.
Best Baby Gift: Food
Buy This Instead Of: Flowers and Balloons. Flowers are always pretty, and who doesn’t love coming home to see a bouquet of balloons in pink or blue? But bringing the family’s favorite dinner will be deeply appreciated and save the sleep-deprived parents the chore of cooking. When coordinating efforts with a group of friends, sites like Take Them A Meal are very helpful. Not a chef? Not a problem. Many local grocery stores sell prepared meals. Stop and Shop’s PeaPod will deliver to many parts of Long Island, and also sell gift cards. Other recommendations include Uncle Guisseppe’s and Whole Foods, both which have several locations on Long Island.
Best Baby Gift: Diapers and Wipes
Buy This Instead Of: Formula. It’s hard to predict what kind of formula babies will need before they arrive, and may take some experimentation to figure out what works once they’re here. Breastfeeding mothers will likely opt not to use it. However diapers are a necessity no matter what the newborn eats, and it’s amazing how many one can use in a day. When buying diapers as a gift, purchase different sizes – babies grow quickly! If purchasing gifts for a family that uses cloth diapers, these businesses were recommended by local parents for supplies: Jillian’s Drawers and Nikki’s Diapers.
Best Baby Gift – Car Seat plus Inspection
Buy This Instead Of: Car Seat Accessories (Bundle Me or any kind of car seat blanket that goes between the infant and the car seat, seat protectors, belt cushions etc). The accessories are typically not crash tested. Use can actually limit the effectiveness of a car seat in a crash. Car seat manuals will strongly advise against the use of these accessories. A car seat is a great gift because one is necessary whether or not the family owns a car; it’s the safest mode of transportation for a baby. It looks relatively easy to set up, but a great number of car seats are installed incorrectly. Local precincts, firehouses, AAA and auto body shops will inspect (and correct) installations. It’s free, but an appointment is required at many sites. Read our Car Seat Safety by Age Guide with local inspection sites information.
Best Baby Gift – Crib Sheets, Room Décor, Changing Pad Covers
Buy This Instead Of: Bedding Sets. Bedding Set pieces often wind up sitting in storage. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends an empty crib; bumper and comforter use is linked to an increased rick of SIDS. This doesn’t mean a nursery is doomed to look stark and institutional. Room décor helps make it feel like home. Extra sets of crib sheets and changing pad covers are always helpful after unexpected accidents. Find these items at your local Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us and Target.
Best Baby Gift: Baby Carrier
Buy This Instead Of: Expensive/Designer Clothes. Babies will find new and creative ways to stain clothes with their bodily fluids and will likely go through several outfits a day. Even if the clothes survive the barrage of spit up and feces, they’ll likely outgrow it before they wear out. A baby carrier will cost the same as a few designer outfits, but will be much more useful to new parents. With a baby carrier, the baby is close to the warmth of their mother or father, and the parents can cuddle their baby while keeping their hands free to do other tasks. It’s a win-win scenario for all! Find these items at your local Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us and Target.
Best Baby Gift: Books
Buy This Instead Of: Stuffed Animals. Hold off on purchasing little stuffed buddies. Though toddlers will have a better appreciation for them than newborns or infants, books can still stimulate imaginations in little ones. Reading to a child helps to build an emotional bond. It’s also a great preparation for school. Shop local at an independent book store like the Book Revue and purchase a children’s book written by a local author.
Best Baby Gift: All-Season Baby Clothes
Buy This Instead Of: Weather/Holiday-Specific Ensembles. Those St. Patrick’s Day pajamas or Passover onesies are adorable, but probably shouldn’t be purchased in August. Since babies grow at different rates, it’s challenging to predict a baby’s size months in advance. Long Island’s Craigslist and buy/sell groups on social networking sites are filled with unworn clothes that the seller’s child never got to wear. Items like jeans, leggings, and overalls are great year-round. If buying for a holiday, a hat or bib are less likely to be outgrown.
Best Baby Gift: Baby Proofing Items
Buy This Instead Of: Wipes Warmer. No one wants their baby’s tushie to be cold, but most moms we spoke with found wipes warmers to be a waste. This won’t be the case with baby-proofing products such as gates, outlet plugs, cabinet latches, corner guards and more. A baby that was barely crawling on Monday could be walking on Friday. It’s impossible to prevent every bump or bruise, but baby proofing can help families avoid injuries and accidents.
Best Baby Gift: Mommy Jewelry
Buy This Instead Of: Baby Jewelry. Unless it’s being purchased for a christening or is used for teething, there’s no need for a baby to own or wear jewelry on a regular basis. Jewelry on babies can also possibly pose as a choking hazard, too. Mom, however, will probably love anything with her baby’s name, picture, birth date and/or birthstone. Long Island is home to many local jewelers including Genero Jewelers in Bellmore and Good Old Gold in Massapequa.
Best Baby Gift: A Willingness to Listen
A new baby brings indescribable joy, but also an awesome responsibility. New parents experience an intense mix of emotions, and it’s normal to be overwhelmed by it all. An escape from all the well-meaning advice and ever-changing list of “do’s and don’ts” is necessary for a new mom’s sanity. A friend or family member that’s willing to empathetically listen, without judgment, is the best gift a new parent can receive.
Planning a shower? See our list of favorite baby shower venues on Long Island HERE.
By Rachel Minkowsky