Baby Shower gifts They'll Actually Use

Baby Showers and newborn gift-giving is loaded with so much pressure. Do you go for the wildly impractical designer baby outfit that looks oh-so-cute wrapped in layers of tissue and presented in a coffee-table-worthy box that looks like it cost as much as the gift? Or do you go for the not-much-to-look-at-but-total-lifesaver item?

As someone who has been on the receiving end of both, it's a tough call, but on balance, I'd go for the latter every time. The Dior Baby outfit is a total treat and something I would never buy myself. Indeed that's the ultimate definition of a present – a decadent purchase you wouldn't make yourself? But, popping your poo-exploding, vomit-producing newborn in an item of clothing that cost more than your wardrobe feels a little criminal.

It is, of course, a matter of personal taste, but I'm a firm believer that practical wins the day. Anything that saves time and sanity buys sleep or makes life easier as a new mum has got to trump lavish every time. There is only one situation where this does not apply, and that's gifts for mum. Gifts for the new mum are often overlooked, so don't forget she's just endured nine hard months of pregnancy and labour. She deserves a treat, too and lavish, outlandish, and heavenly are totally acceptable.

woman feeding newborn on feeding pillow

Widgey 5-in-1 Multipurpose Feeding Pillow

Baby pillow, feeding pillow, maternity pillow or nursing pillow. Call it what you will, but it's an absolute godsend, and it's one of those purchases that will last way beyond the baby feeding stage. If you buy one early enough, a pregnancy pillow will help the recipient ease those nightmare pregnancy backaches, not to mention relieving pressure points between knees and ankles.

In fact, the Widgey pregnancy and nursing pillow can be used for so many things. For example, it can be used for tummy time to strengthen the baby's developing neck muscles and as a baby nest to prop baby up once they can support their own head and sit unaided. Toddlers, growing children and adults can also use them as back and neck support for reading, chilling out and watching the TV too.

Widgey breastfeeding pillows can be used for bottle feeding, too, and they come in various colours to match different nursery and home décor. There are neutral silver star and night star prints in hues of grey and beige and grey stripes or a grey marl. The Widgey feeding pillow brights range includes star prints in fuchsia pink, blue, purple and teal, and there's even a very on-trend monochrome pineapple print. The cotton covers can be removed for washing. If you're feeling generous, you can even buy a spare cover for the Widgey classic feeding pillow – perfect for keeping the pillow protected while the other cover is in the wash.

Widgey Classic Feeding pillows start at just £24.99. The range also includes a longer pregnancy body pillow, the Widgey Plus pregnancy and sleep pillow perfect for keeping spines aligned and improving rest and relaxation.

baby in navy woombie swaddle in cot

Swaddle

You might not be able to give the gift of sleep physically, but you can gift the next best thing! A Woombie baby swaddle!

Baby swaddling has been used for years to soothe newborns and is a safe and proven way to settle baby, but unless you are well-practised, swaddling from scratch can be quite a tricky manoeuvre. That's why Woombie is such a brilliant invention. The unique Woombie swaddle means no more wrapping and re-wrapping swaddle blankets. Simply put baby into the swaddle, snap and zip! The Woombie swaddle's ergonomic, peanut-shaped design gently hugs baby recreating the feeling of the womb. Woombie zip-up swaddles allow baby to move and stretch naturally.

Woombie is one of the best-loved and most recognised baby swaddle brands globally, with over 20 awards received for design and innovation.

Developmentally designed, the Woombie Hands Over Heart™ sleep position has been recognised as the healthiest way for babies to sleep, allowing skin-on-skin contact, mimicking parental touch and fostering self-soothing while maintaining rigid, safe sleep and safe swaddle standards. Woombie swaddling promotes important back sleeping and assists with colic symptoms with its tapered waist and specialised 4-way stretch Bebeflex™ fabric. Also, it allows additional space for a hip, friendly system and approach. The Woombie range include swaddles for preemie babies, newborns and bigger babies aged 3-6 months. The packaging is compact, so it's a great choice if you need to post a gift.

basket of baby products

Compendium of baby essentials

Parents of newborns often operate under that sweet blissful state of ignorance. They romanticise the natural feeding sessions and imagine mat-leave days full of messy play, Makaton and mother's meetings. Put simply; they are sometimes just not prepared for the pitfalls and curveballs that parenting hurls at them.

Think of this gift as the 'break-glass-in-case-of-emergency type of present. You could even add a little humour and include a note with how they'll know when to use each item in the kit, especially useful if you have parenting experience and have some wisdom to impart. Include products like gripe water and Infacol for soothing feeding complaints, Ashton and Parson's powder sachets for teething and Snufflebabe vapour rub for nasal congestion. You can never have too much Calpol, and even those resolute about not using a dummy may find themselves reaching for one in the early hours of the morning. Metanium nappy rash ointment or Bepanthen nappy care ointments are also life-saving products when it comes to keeping nappy rash in check.

designer baby changing bag in black crock leather

Designer baby changing bag

Few gifts satisfy baby and mummy simultaneously, but a designer changing bag is one of those rare wonders. Thankfully in recent years, there has been a proliferation of savvy changing bag brands that recognise that being a mum does not necessarily equal selling your soul and style to the devil. This is an excellent gift if you are joining forces with other family members or colleagues at work and will make your combined gift funds go much further.

A designer baby bag will make mum feel a million dollars while ensuring that all baby's lotions, potions, various change of clothes, and everything else they need have a home.

The Beau Sophia is a fashionable carryall-changing bag in a supple soft croc leather. It's a simple yet effortlessly stylish and practical slouch tote – the perfect companion for any outfit, and the contrast leather gives a high fashion finish. It comes in the sort of dust bag reserved for designer handbags and includes a leatherette changing mat, bottle holder, detachable zip pouch, removable organiser and dust bag.

If she's more a backpack kinda gal, then maybe opt for the Kerikit Thor in nude, perfect for the modern-day parent who needs to be organised and hands-free whilst remaining totally stylish. The innovative internal layout provides a multitude of pockets for all of baby's essentials, including bottle holders that keep bottles upright – no more spills! Thor also features two internal compartments to keep parenting possessions in one place and baby's essentials separate. It's comfortable, too, with a padded back section and adjustable shoulder straps.

 baby in bodysuit with poppers

Front fastening babygrows

While the vast choice of mini-me haute couture options is tempting, you can't beat practicality when it comes to gifting baby clothing. The problem is that you don't fully appreciate the wisdom of this until you have endured a bout of wrestling with a fidgety and defiant baby that can reduce you to hormonal sobs!

Poppers are the most usual (and quickest) method for fastening, but I can't recommend enough those babygrows with openings down the front rather than the back. It makes changing so much easier, reducing the stress and preserving mummy and daddy's sanity.

Soft, natural fabrics like cotton are best for delicate newborn skin, and there are lots of organic options for extra comfort and sensitivity.

gro egg baby room thermometer

Gro egg room light and thermometer

This is definitely one of those gifts that you don't tend to know about until you are a parent, so this will get you top marks for getting the newbies ahead of the curve.

The new parents will have so much to think about that any device or gadget that saves space in their sleep-deprived brains will be worth its weight in...golden eggs!

The Gro egg 2 is a colour changing system and digital temperature display that takes the guesswork out of maintaining the baby's nursery's safe and correct temperature.  The patented Gro egg 2 glows yellow if the room temperature is within recommended guidelines (16–20°C). If the room temperature is outside this range, it will shine blue (too cold), orange (warmer) and red (too hot), take action to cool or heat the room, or adjust the baby's bedding or clothing. The Gro egg 2 also includes four adjustable brightness levels allowing it to be used as a nightlight.

EZPZ silicone weaning happy mat plate

Weaning kit

Having only just started to get to grips with boob or bottle, you could be forgiven for thinking that it might be a bit premature to be considering mini roasts and a la carte options. Though weaning isn't advised until six months in, it is not unheard of to start as early as four months. Life with a newborn flashes by pretty quickly, so be one step ahead of your gift-giving peers and put together a few essential weaning items to help the new parents along on their weaning journey.

Include the unique slanted Doidy cup, a training cup designed to get baby used to natural free-flow drinking without the need for a teat or a spout. A selection of soft spoons for delicate palates are a must, and you can't have enough weaning pots and baby food storage containers. For a real showstopper, go for the nothing's going to move this sucker silicone suction Happy Mats by EZPZ . They stick to pretty much any surface and stop baby food-flinging Olympics in their tracks. The smiley face design is not only an aesthetic joy but great for portion and food group control!

 

box of meal ingredients from Helllo Fresh 

Meal Subscription

There are quite a few things new parents don't feel like doing in the first few weeks following their new arrival. Shopping, cooking and cleaning can be among the items on this list, mainly just because of sheer tiredness. You could, of course, rustle up a homemade shepherd's pie or a batch of wholesome soup, but odds-on, you're busy too, and life since the onset of the pandemic has left people divided on bestowing others with homemade fayre. Enter the humble meal box, packed full of all the ingredients and instructions to prepare restaurant-style cuisine quicker than you can say 'Old Macdonald had a farm'!

Most brands have introductory rates, and there's no ongoing commitment, so you could just set up a trial and then cancel after the first week. Check out Gousto, Hello Fresh or The Mindful Chef.

plate of cookies

Cookies

Continuing on the foodie theme, there's nothing quite as comforting as a cookie, even if hot drink pitstops become something of a rarity in the early days.

Described as a hug in a box, Mothers Love Cookies deliver a batch of delicious lactation-boosting treats for new mums. They're divine whether breastfeeding or not. There's a wide selection of flavoured brownies, cookies and flapjacks to choose from. They can also be popped in the freezer and kept for up to 3 months which is pretty handy for keeping your supplies stocked up and the milk-machine munchies at bay.

 pregnany woman sitting cross legged with a baby journal

Baby journal

It's not until you have a baby that you genuinely understand that overused and sometimes annoying phrase, 'make the most of it, they grow up so fast'. It's true.

A journal is a wonderfully thoughtful gift for recording precious memories and developmental milestones.  Parents can return to it and reminisce once they're through the hazy days of endless feeding and then pass it down as a cherished keepsake to their children when they are grown. This is a great gift idea that can be tailored to different budgets. Blush and Gold do some lovely baby journals with foil-blocked covers starting at £22.50, and Meminio has a wide range of journals that can be personalised with baby's name too. We love their 'When you were.." age designated journals starting at £18.