Gifts for New Moms.

I usually send a gift for baby and a gift for mom — and, now that I have two children myself — often a little gift for the older sibling(s). Below, a few of my favorite items to give to baby:

LOVE TO DREAM SWADDLE

TUBBY TODD GIFT SET

A MONOGRAMMED PIECE FROM TBBC LIKE THIS FOR BOYS OR THIS FOR GIRLS

KISSY KISSY JAMMIES (LOVE THIS PRINT FOR LITTLE GIRLS AND A CLASSIC BLUE FOR BOYS)

A PERSONALIZED WHIPSTITCH GOWN FROM LITTLE ENGLISH

KNITWEAR FROM LA COQUETA

I usually pair one of the above pieces with a little something else, like a pacifier clip, an Oli & Carol teether, a Wubbanub, one of these adorable elephants from my girlfriend Christina’s amazing company, or one of our favorite baby books.

For older siblings — especially toddlers between 2-3 years of age — I like to send along an activity that will preoccupy them during at least one or two dicey moments (ha!). Mini loves these puffy sticker sets, colorforms, puzzles (<<these are a bit advanced for a 2-3 year old but mini loves doing these alongside a willing aunt/sitter/parent; for something more self-directed, I love these), magnetic dress-up doll set, or a coloring roll. They are all great (quiet!) activities that can be reused many times over.

For the mom, my two favorite gifts are either a gift card to DryBar (if you have one local to you) or a gift bag of sandwich fixings. On the former: I treated myself to a blowout once every other week during the first few months after Hill was born and it was pure BLISS. Not only did it mean someone was taking care of my hair on my behalf (i.e., one less task to handle at home), but it made me feel more put-together and attractive when I was feeling absolutely gross. It also felt deliciously indulgent to sit and glaze over at a rom-com or read a book or just scroll through Instagram. I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve given a gift card to DryBar to a few of my other mom friends and one of them cried she was so excited by its prospect!

The latter gift is always a crowd-pleaser, and I usually try to drop it off within a day or two of their arrival back from the hospital. I go to a place like Citarella or an upscale butcher to have some high-end deli meats sliced, and then pair it with “fancy” mayonnaise (i.e., Sir Kensington’s — incidentally, one of the new dads was most excited about this mayo out of the whole bag! “LOOK! FANCY MAYO!”), grey poupon mustard, sliced bread from a good bakery, and a couple of different snacks that I wrap in cellophane bags and tie off with a huge satin bow (I also usually tie a bow around the mayo and mustard). I like to give dried apricots, truffle potato chips, yogurt or chocolate covered pretzels, and yogurt or chocolate covered nuts. I put it all in a big gift bag filled with crinkle paper and hand-deliver to the doorman/leave on the doorstep and then immediately text my friend once I’ve left the premises. (Never want to intrude that soon after baby is born!) A friend of mine did this for me just after Emory was born and it was absolute heaven to have the fixings for a quick lunch or midnight snack on hand.

If those are not options because you either don’t have a Drybar close by or don’t live close enough for a hand delivery, we received a few deliveries of Levain cookies from dear friends and MAN those were a joy to have around. Other great gifts if she’s nursing: Lake Pajamas Maternity Set, a Hydroflask or Klean Kanteen and some of her favorite snacks (I’m thinking Haribo candy…), a Storq nursing caftan (the best! wore this while pregnant and also nursing — chic enough to be worn out of the house), or a nursing nightgown.

But truly the greatest gifts I received with both mini and micro were routine check-ins from friends. In particular, I want to call out my friends Allison and Steph, who would drop me a line every few days: “Just checking in…how’s it going? What’s new with breastfeeding? How’s he sleeping?” They’d occasionally offer advice or encouragement or perspective or insight from their own experiences as mothers themselves, but mainly, they just listened. They gave me the generous prompt to share what I was thinking and feeling. And those first few weeks after a new baby arrives — wow. I mean, wow! There is a lot to contend with and, despite feeling largely surrounded by people (so many loving visitors!), it can occasionally feel lonely. Because even though motherhood is an experience shared by millions and millions of women, when you are entering into it for the first time and even the second time and maybe the third time (?), you are entirely overwhelmed by the enormity of its novelty to you. Emotions, hormones, and sleeplessness transform the mundane into the mammoth (and, occasionally, the monstrous). It is a wild ride. I can see this clearly now, safely ensconced on the other side of six months postpartum, but those early weeks are a blissful and challenging and exhausting blur that often left me aching for companionship. So that, too — let that be your gift. A quick check-in every three or four days, if well-received by the mother the first or second time.

P.S. 9 things that surprised me about having a c-section, great gifts for men, and my favorite baby gear.

P.P.S. I’ve had a number of requests for a post on weaning — will share that soon — but in the meantime, if you’re nursing and encountering challenges and in need of some companionship, here’s my candid experience nursing micro, part i and part ii. (Also, what to wear while nursing.)

P.P.P.S. My favorite pregnancy and postpartum stuff.

P.P.P.P.S. If you are a husband reading this post and hoping to find inspiration for a gift for your wife: I love these engravable charm necklaces from Aurelia Demark as a splurge. For something more affordable, I had one of these rings engraved with mini’s birth date and initials, and something like this or this would be beautiful personalized with the baby’s name.

16 Comments

  1. Some of these are also really good ideas for those who might be going through other things. I had an injury and it would have been lovely and so thoughtful to have had someone come sit with me or send one of these gifts.

    1. How awful, Angelyn! I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m hoping you’re on the mend. Thinking of you!

      xx

  2. Such good suggestions — and I LOVE the comment thread on how to check in on loved ones during emotional/stressful/rough times. (As an aside, Stephanie, I will include you and Claire in my prayers! I can’t imagine going through that with a child…)

    P.S. Jen, did I ever tell you that I gave my sister-in-law a Drybar gift certificate (at your suggestion) after my niece was born and we bawled together when she opened it? We’ve become very close over the years and I think she felt seen and nurtured in that moment, and that felt SO good to do. Thank you again, so much, for the rec! xx

    1. So so glad to hear that, MK! It is a really lovely way to remind a new mom to take time to care for herself. xxx

  3. Love this so much! Another idea if you don’t live close by is a Prime Now order from Whole Foods. You can get as fancy or practical as you want (or a mix! A few pints of expensive gelato, and also eggs, bread, fresh squeezed orange juice!) and just send a text to the mama that groceries are on their way.

    I also recently got a new mom-to-be a Yeti mug. Keeping your coffee hot in those early months is a strugggle!

  4. Great ideas. I recently brought a friend who is a new mom a bag of frozen lumps of homemade chocolate chip cookie dough so they could have hot cookies on demand whenever they pleased. She reported back that they were a huge hit!

  5. These are great ideas! I have a friend who’s being induced next week, and I have the big sister present covered but still need something for the baby and some freezer meal ideas. Planning to make some muffins she can defrost individually for a quick breakfast/snack, and maybe a frittata or something. I feel like breakfast is kind of neglected in these situations…everyone is bringing dinners but you still have to eat breakfast! And I was always STARVING first thing in the morning when I was postpartum and breastfeeding/pumping.

    Also, re: checking in…along similar lines, I really noticed and appreciated the friends and family who regularly checked in with me when we were in the throes of chemo and surgery for little Claire’s cancer. It was really meaningful to have people checking on me when so much of my focus had to be on her wellbeing instead of my own. On the flip side (and this may sound petty but it’s true) I also noticed that certain people never checked in. I know it’s hard to know what to say but usually something is better than nothing!

    1. That is SO true about breakfasts — maybe those frozen Williams-Sonoma croissants and a sampler of Bonne Maman jams would be another welcome treat for new moms in my life. Great idea!!

      Ahh, Stephanie, am thinking of you and praying for Claire, and am so sorry you have to go through this. You are a tough and loving mom.

      And — I know exactly what you mean, too. Though I’ve not gone through the strenuously trying experience you are enduring, I have noticed with more minor health issues and the births of both children who seems to be thoughtful enough to check in and who does not. I try to push it out of my mind (people are busy!) but then again — in the words of the post earlier this week — “sometimes it’s not enough that you didn’t mean to do something. You have to mean NOT to.” In this case, you have to mean not to forget to check in on your friends!

      xx

    2. This is something I struggle with. I assume (but probably shouldn’t) that the mom/family knows how deeply I care about their situation. When I get the chance to talk to the mom in those situations, I generally try not to mention the sad/hard things that they’re going through, and rather provide a tiny respite from those thoughts. Preferring to talk about something light, or even cheery, instead. I generally try to wrap the conversation with “I’m thinking of you all” or something similar to acknowledge their situation but not dwell on it. Maybe my approach is wrong, who knows!

    3. Hi JC – I completely relate to this. I am also always concerned about emotionally ambushing someone or pushing them to talk about something that is uncomfortable. I think I got this from my friend Hitha, but she mentioned that always makes a point to ask people going through a tough time: “How are you doing TODAY?” with an empathetic look. If the friend wants to share, she has the space to do so. Or she can brush it off with a “I’m fine!” And you can go from there? Going to try this moving forward.

      xx

    4. I also think about this a lot. I now have two very close friends who are going through cancer treatment in their early 30s and I try to strike a balance between checking in and providing support but also understanding that it can be difficult to maintain a whole communications campaign around your illness while also enduring it. Like, I want updates, of course, but I acknowledge that providing those updates can be a pretty big burden. So I try to not ask WHAT’S THE UPDATE all the time, just ask how they’re doing today, and share a little anecdote about something non-cancer related if I sense they are sick of talking about it.

    5. Hi JC and Anna! I think you are doing the right thing. I only have my own experience to draw from (and I personally wasn’t the sick one so maybe that’s different) but a simple “how are you?” text was just right. It doesn’t request details or an update per se, and a text allows me to respond at my convenience vs a phone call which is more intrusive.

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