With the arrival of a baby, you can expect to receive mountain loads of teeny, tiny onesies and seemingly nifty gadgets that too often end up collecting dust. When I was expecting our son almost two years ago now, my heart melted over the many cute little things kindly given to us from friends and family, but as time moved on, I realized how unnecessary many of these baby goodies proved to be. Some of them were hardly used, others remained unused. Babies don’t need as much as we think they do — and sometimes, surprisingly, the best gifts are actually the ones that don’t make you gush and say, ‘awww!’
Save your cash with this list of what not to buy, along with a few ideas for great gifts, too:
Something about rosy-cheeked babies make us go goo-goo ga-ga over giving gifts that pack that extra pop of cuteness, yet many of those adorable footed sleepers and fancy baby gear selections prove to be cash wasters.
I know of what I speak, for when our boy was born two years ago, he outgrew most of his zero-to-three-month sleepers before we could get the tags clipped. The reality is only a handful of baby garments are actually needed, and whatever their current size happens to be, children stay that way for about a millisecond.
We also received plenty of shoes, the flexible ones designed to easily slide onto a baby’s feet, except babies don’t need shoes until they are walking (OK, maybe crawling, but even that is a bit of a stretch in favour of infant footwear).
Our son’s vast collection of snazzy, pint-sized shoes inspired generous amounts of ‘oohing and ahh-ing,’ for they were tiny and sweet looking, but sadly, he never wore a single pair. Stick with cozy slippers for the first little while.
Then there was the wipe warmer. We kept this unnecessary luxury — which gets those bum wipes all toasty — plugged in for a wee while. Looking back I think it’s accurate to say that out of all of the harsh, out-of-womb realities facing our youngsters, having warmed fanny wipes probably isn’t high on the list.
We were given a Pee-Pee Teepee, a cleverly named product that is kind of like a tea cosy for baby boys. The idea is that it will prevent your baby boy from peeing all over you during a diaper change, but while this novelty gift may be funny, truthfully it remained dry inside the mini sack it arrived in.
Again, clever marketing packed a powerful punch with the Baby Bullet food processor. Here’s the reality of this baby-sized goody — if you’re steaming and roasting away to make baby food from scratch, why not use a regular-sized processor so you can whip up and freeze large batches at once?
I started off pureeing foods in the Baby Bullet — it’s a darling thing, after all — but I quickly switched to our full-grown Cuisinart blender, which frankly is the Ferrari of food processors. It enabled me to make a variety of mealtime concoctions in less time — and time, along with sleep, is something most parents need more of.
So, after reading about my top cash-sapping baby goods, you may be wondering what is left.
Well, here's the thing, some onesies are helpful, as are a few blankets and huggable stuffed animals, but what is really needed — and often overlooked — are the more pragmatic items.
For my baby shower, I registered for a number of must-have necessities, though few people actually purchased them.
Here are some other gift ideas that your new-to-be-parent friends will actually use:
I get it, watching a mom-to-be open up a box of diapers and wipes or selection of baby bottles doesn’t exactly carry the electric "wow" factor gift-givers crave, yet these are the essentials parents actually use. I received a big box of diapers and wipes as a baby shower gift and man did they ever come in handy. For parents wading through the baby jungle, a stockpile of diapers and wipes means one less essential for them to worry about.
From our in-laws, our son received his first Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), which will retain its value long after he grows out of every stage of children’s clothing possible. For those who want to give something thoughtful and smart, I highly recommend it.
New to the RESP scene is a no-fee, worry-free and 100% guaranteed RESP from giraffe & friends. It is easy to understand and simple to buy online (without the hassle of banks or sales people!). To gift an RESP, you will need the primary caregiver’s SIN and address (you have up to two years to provide the child’s SIN).
Timeless children’s books are always appreciated. We continue to build our son’s library and still revisit many of his first story books, including Goodnight Moon, I Love You Through and Through and On the Night You Were Born. Some of my favourite moments involve snuggling up with my son to read a big stack of books. Simply put, if you’re looking for a wonderful present, the gift of words will not disappoint.
Teething toys are useful almost from birth and throughout the various stages of teething when a child’s gums are aching and they need relief. There are many classic teething toys on the market, as well as organic and locally-made ones, so shop around. If you’re on a tight, gift-giving budget, teething toys are the way to go.
A healthcare kit that covers basic essentials, such as a thermometer, medicine dispenser, nail clippers, file, nose cleaner, toothbrush and hair brush is a fantastic gift idea. It will get tremendous mileage and keeps these must-have items together in one organized spot. If you’re struggling trying to find something for the baby who has everything, this could be the ticket!
Remember that while cute kid finds can be absolutely wonderful, parents tend to get lots of them. When in need of an idea, think outside the gift-giving box. Before pulling out your wallet, take pause and ask yourself whether a three-button blazer and shoes with laces and thick rubber soles are really what a baby needs. If the answer is no, regardless of how charming it is, gently put it down and walk far, far away.
Time flies by in the blink of an eye. One day you’re worrying about sending your little one to preschool, the next you’re sending them off to college. That’s why it’s important to invest in an RESP now.
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Visit the ‘How To Plan For Your Kid's Future’ page and learn the best ways for parents to save money, when you should start saving, and more.