Here at Magic Beans, we usually focus on the needs of parents, but we have another important audience: the friends and families of the expectant, many of whom don’t have our own children. I’ve been in the baby biz for close to ten years, so I’ve got the vocabulary down, but if someone you love is expecting and all of this talk of onesies and swaddles and bouncers has you feeling overwhelmed, this is the guide for you!
Before you start shopping for baby gifts, make sure you find out whether your friend or family member has a baby registry. If she does, you can’t lose: she’s already pre-picked every item she wants, and you just find what fits in your budget and buy it.
If she doesn’t have a baby registry, though, don’t panic! Just get one of the items on this list, and it’ll be a hit at the shower AND will get used. Trust us.
1. Aden & Anais Swaddling Blankets
Aden & Anais swaddles aren’t just any baby blanket! First of all, they’re incredibly soft and just the right size and shape for swaddling. (For those who are unfamiliar with the practice: swaddling is the practice of wrapping newborns tightly in a baby-sized blanket, which helps them settle down and get to sleep.) The muslin weave of the fabric makes these swaddling blankets nice and breathable, preventing overheating.
Second of all, Aden & Anais swaddling blankets are all-purpose blankets, useful for everything from loveys to burp cloths to, um… tourniquets? Well, let’s hope they don’t need it for that. Anyway, your loved ones will use these adorable blankets every day for a million different purposes.
Oh, and they also come in a huge variety of gorgeous colors and adorable designs – I’m partial to the elegant gray ones here, but you can also get them with giraffes, monkeys, elephants, birds, and… oh my god, is that a dog with wings?
2. Magnificent Baby outfits
Even though babies spend most of their time lying down, that doesn’t mean they’re staying still, and that can make it a devilish challenge to get them dressed. Add in the fact that babies often aren’t in the mood to get dressed, they make their displeasure known very loudly, and the last thing you want to do at 3am is spend half an hour calming them down, and you can see where anything that makes it easier to get the baby properly dressed is a godsend.
Magnificent Baby clothing is the ultimate in convenience for late-night diaper changes (and, god forbid – but it does happen – late-night entire-outfit changes, after a diaper blowout): these adorable little baby ensembles fasten with powerful, safely-embedded magnets. You can see in this video how quick it is!
The reason why I favor Magnificent Baby for baby shower gifts is because those high-quality magnets push the price up a bit, which might make expectant parents reluctant to buy these outfits for the baby themselves. They’re not a must-have, but they’re an awesome-to-have, and your loved ones will be grateful you thought of it.
Keep in mind that the shower-ees will be getting lots of newborn clothes from the other folks at the shower, so you may want to get any clothing a size or two up, to ensure that they have more cute stuff to dress the baby in as he grows. Thinking ahead is smart!
3. Classic baby toys
Many products in our selection have been around for years and never waned in popularity, because they’re surefire hits with parents, kids, or both. Manhattan Toy makes a lot of our faves – we’re constantly recommending the Winkel, the Skwish, and the Whoozit. They’re all loaded with entertainment and educational value for babies, and they’re cute, too.
And don’t forget Sophie the Giraffe: this ultra-popular natural rubber teething toy is handmade in the Swiss Alps, and modern parents love the artisanal feel of a handmade toy (every Sophie looks a little different!). And babies can’t get enough Sophie – her knobby head and long legs make her endlessly interesting to munch on, and she even has a little squeaker in her belly.
Since Sophie is such a popular baby toy, it’s not unlikely that at least one other person at the shower will bring a Sophie, but don’t worry – it will get enough use that your loved ones will probably want to have two. (At the very least, a lot of French babies have two, if the stats on Wikipedia from 2010 are correct.)
4. Go cute!
There are plenty of baby gifts that hit this particular sweet spot, merging cuteness and usefulness. The aforementioned Magnificent Baby has some amazing outfits that fit into this category – even the cutest baby on earth could be made even cuter with the addition of bear ears! Hooded towels also have a big “awww” factor, and they’re great for getting babies warmed up fast after a bath. The 3 Sprouts ones have sweet, hilarious animal faces that will create some great photo-ops!
Wubbanubs are also both adorable and useful: those Beanie Baby-looking plush pals attached to a pacifier also help to keep the paci in baby’s mouth, and help her to learn to take it out of her mouth and put it back in. This means that the new parents are spending less time chasing rolling pacifiers around on the floor – never something anyone really enjoys doing!
Finally, while it seems like a total novelty, you’d be surprised at how useful the Blooming Bath is: this super-cute gigantic foam flower transforms pretty much any sink into a safe and comfortable baby bathtub! Bathing a baby can be a pretty onerous project for both parents and kids, since babies really don’t like being cold, and a wet, wiggly, slippery, cranky baby is a recipe for new parent anxiety. So everyone in the family appreciates how much easier baths are with this product! Also, you are absolutely guaranteed to receive photos of this product in use.
5. Can’t decide?
If you’re really stumped, leave choosing a gift up to us! Our WOW Baby Baskets come in a variety of fun and useful themes, and it takes only a few minutes to make the specifications you’ll need to order one – just choose a theme, a gender, and a price point, and we’ll heap a cute basket with baby products that we know parents love (and will definitely use). We do the work, you get the credit. Cool, eh?
And if the parents-to-be are extremely particular, you can just leave the choosing of gifts up to them: Magic Beans gift cards make terrific presents, and can be used at our stores and online! This is also a great idea if the recipients want a bunch of folks to chip in for a large purchase, like a stroller or crib.
If you’re near a Magic Beans store, you can find all of these items on our shelves – or just ask one of our store associates to make a recommendation! Our toy whizzes and gear gurus have a passion for products, and they’ll have even more great gift ideas for you. And if you aren’t near one of our stores, you can talk to us on live chat in the corner!