After the Great Depression and WWII ended Americans had more economic and political stability and the world seemed a safer place. The American birthrate boomed. Wait - don’t quit reading yet! I’m also having flashbacks to high school American History class and beginning to doze off - stay with me! That history snippet was all just to say that there are definite trends in birth numbers influenced by what is going on in the world. For a smaller scale example, did you know that September is the most common birthday month? Count back nine months and you’ll find that a baby born in September was most likely conceived in December, around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays when people are generally in better spirits and have a little more time off work to snuggle up with the ones they love.
Around here, we’re wondering what the effects of the pandemic may have on birth numbers. Will the stay at home orders from the spring result in a baby boom this winter? (I mean, early on, some people were pretty much shut in their homes for weeks on end and only their sweeties to physically interact with. You do the math on that one…) Or, will people be so stressed and worried about the state of the world that they’ll postpone trying to have a child? Regardless of how the coronavirus will affect the birth rate, back in December 2019, the world felt more “normal” and we had no idea what was around the corner in 2020. With that in mind, we should probably expect September births to be on track with where they have been historically - high. And with how different things look for the foreseeable future and how some of our priorities have shifted, we thought we’d put together a round-up of some gift ideas for those babies born this autumn and their families.
Gifts of Convenience
No matter how much people warned me, the shock of how little time you have once baby comes along is mind-blowing. Mind-blowing, I tell you. Anything to help along the daily life tasks and the necessary stuff that has to take place every day can be a huge help to new parents trying to find their footing on next to no sleep and a hormonal roller coaster. Cut out some of their frustration with a gift like the ones below.
- A subscription bundle of ABBY&FINN diapers and wipes, obviously! No one wants to be running to the store late at night for more diapers and wipes. Help new parents skip that trip to the store and get baby essentials delivered straight to their door!
- A couple months of a housecleaning service - This would be a huge help to any family as a baby brings tons of joy, but also lots of disruption to the typical systems already in place in a home. Peace of mind with a clean home is a huge de-stressor for a new parent.
- Gift cards to their favorite, nearby restaurants that offer carry-out or delivery - Pre-made frozen meals can be helpful as well, but a too-full freezer that can’t hold another casserole dish as well as some food sensitivities with family members make gift cards a safer bet.
- A few months of a night nurse service - You’d want to make sure the new parents are comfortable with this, but the people I know who’ve used this service rave about being able to get an occasional full night’s sleep.
- A few months of a meal or grocery delivery service - I would happily accept this gift any day of the year. It’s a useful timesaver to any family.
Gifts of Thoughtfulness and Connection
Physical distance along with difficulties and restrictions for traveling right now make it hard to connect in-person with the new baby of a friend or loved one. Try and overcome that obstacle with a truly meaningful, heartfelt gift that lets family and baby know how much they mean to you and how excited you are to see them in-person someday soon.
- A gift card to a custom photo book website - This will help new parents with the means to put that precious first year of photos together as a keepsake they can share with family.
- A personalized book - Lots of options with this one! There are several companies that create books custom to a kiddo’s name, you could create a book on a photo website that has pictures of far-away family members and their names (babies love to see photos of faces), or even a collection of some of your favorite picture and board books with messages from you written inside - anything showing thoughtfulness and personalization goes a long way.
- A few hours of babysitting - Help from friends and family is always welcome!
- A set of 12 picture frames for those monthly baby photos (bonus points if you pre-hang them!) - The best laid plans for those month-by-month photos can fall by the wayside easily. With the frames all ready to go, parents are much more likely to follow through.
- A gift card for a family photo session with a good photographer - No one ever regrets having professional photos of their baby!
Gifts for Safety and Health
Typically not the gifts that draw the most oohs and ahhs at a baby shower or the ones that are even all that exciting to open, but these gifts can certainly pull their weight in a time of need.
- A curated-by-you baby first aid kit - You can buy these prepackaged, but I find they have some unneeded items (yes, I’m looking at you, baby electric nail filer). Put together your own little kit of necessities. Think a good diaper rash balm like Motherlove’s Diaper Balm (add it to your next ABBY&FINN box), little syringes, ABBY&FINN antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, infants’ acetaminophen and ibuprofen, some ABBY&FINN travel wipes, a thermometer, saline nasal spray, a nasal aspirator, baby sunscreen, and the like.
- A UV Sanitizer - Feels sci-fi right? But these little numbers can kill germs on those super dirty keys, cell phones, and there are even ones designed strictly for pacifiers! A perfect gift for an especially germ-concerned parent.
- A postpartum recovery kit - Not all that exciting to unwrap (maybe even a little intimidating), but man oh man, when you’re trying to explain to your partner just exactly what size pad you need him to pick up at the drugstore, you’ll thank whomever had the foresight to wrap up some big undies (so sexy), large pads, stool softeners, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, a sitz bath, breast-feeding cooling pads, hemorrhoid cream, a donut to sit on (sexier still) and all the stuff you’ll be so thankful for after delivery.
Gifts of Practicality
These are the most boring gifts. The ones that I watched every cousin before me at the family baby showers open from Aunt Judy and politely say thanks and then proceed to shovel away while the adorable corduroy dress with matching tights and boots and bonnet in size 0-3 months got passed around the group. Well guess what - my daughter outgrew that fancy dress with accessories before I could wrangle her chunky thighs into the Spanx-like tights, but Aunt Judy’s pack of C-batteries was an absolute life-saver one afternoon when the singing refrigerator that entertained my teething baby and kept her from crying for hours ran out of power. They might not be the most fun gifts to open, but they often end up being the most useful.
- A large canvas tote bag embroidered with the baby’s name - While diaper bags can be pretty specific to the needs and style of a parent, a tote is a classic and sturdy gift that will last for years. This doesn’t replace a diaper bag, but rather it’s the spot that hauls the extra toys you’re nervous about traveling without, the massive snowsuit that would have taken up 3/4 of the suitcase, or the blanket you’ll use to throw over the carseat when you go in and out of the car. And when they get older, this is where you chuck their 27 extra books or the menagerie of stuffed animals they may want to have during an overnight with grandparents.
- Batteries of various sizes and a few small screwdrivers - Loads of baby and toddler toys are battery powered and for safety reasons, the batteries are enclosed behind screws. 100% behind the safety on this, but holy moly, it is stressful when the singing mobile begins to sound demented as battery power dies and your little one starts crying all while you rampage through every junk drawer in the house for a screwdriver and batteries.
- Single-use dinner and flatware - Dirty dishes can stack up easily for sleep-deprived new parents. A stockpile of biodegradable or compostable options that will save having to load dishwasher is a major help.
- Cute and stylish storage containers along with a label maker - I know, my Type-A is showing right now. But hear me out: those little munchkins outgrow clothes and toys so quickly your head spins. A system to organize what you want to save - maternity clothes, 0-3 month outfits for a possible baby #2, etc. - can come in super handy to a new parent trying to stay on top of clutter.
- An emergency stash of household items - Think basics like toilet paper, hand soap, paper towels, antibacterial wipes, small packs of dishwashing and laundry detergent - anything that could help stave off a necessary but last minute run to the store by an overly exhausted new parent.
- A set of nice stationary and stamps - There will be thank you cards to write for baby gifts and stamps can be helpful with birth announcements as well.
Gifts for Entertainment and Indulgence
Our entertainment these days looks a little different than it did in pre-pandemic times, but to help maintain some semblance of mental health and self-care, we do need to do some activities to escape from parenting for an hour every so often or do something fun and enriching with our littles. Think about a gift like the ones below to help out.
- A nice coffee or espresso machine if they are java drinkers - many parents of newborns discover a whole new appreciation for caffeine!
- A subscription to a streaming platform - Think Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max or the like so parents can binge while nursing, catch an hour of relaxation, or be able to pull up a show for toddler entertainment while feeding a baby.
- A membership to a local zoo, children’s museum, art museum, you-pick farm, science museum, botanical garden, or baby-and-me art or music class - Activities that can safely get a new parent and baby out and about for enrichment and bonding are always a great idea. (As a double bonus, many of these institutions have been impacted by the pandemic and a membership is a great way to contribute to their ability to stay open!)
- A curated box of treats and snacks - A collection of the new parents’ faves along with some healthy grab-and-go snacks would be a delicious and much-appreciated gift for the baby’s family. If there are other kids in the house, include some easily openable granola bars or pouches that the older kiddos can self serve without having to disrupt mom each time.
So with lots of gift ideas to ponder, bring on the September baby boom!