Our favorite things: Advice on gifts for parents-to-be

Do you have parents-to-be on your gift list? What can you give them that they haven’t already received? What will help them prepare for their soon-to-arrive bundle of joy?

I asked our team of Ob/Gyn experts for their favorite gift ideas – things they found invaluable as a new parent or recommend to their own patients because they know they work.

Baby’s first library

Our experts divulge the best gifts they received as expecting parents.
Dr. Horsager read to her daughters when they were young.

My gift advice: I started reading bedtime stories to my twin daughters when they turned 1. We loved the soothing repetition of “Good Night Moon” – I can still recite passages from memory – and the beautiful illustrations in “The Mitten.” We read together into grade school, progressing through classics like the “Little House on the Prairie” series and devouring the first three “Harry Potter” books.

Today, my daughters are avid readers and I truly believe it is a result of this activity. Because of this, I like to give friends and family who are expecting a collection of my favorite children’s books.

Personalized baby gifts

Dr. Patel's daughter with Pottery Barn embroidered blanket
Dr. Patel's daughter with Pottery Barn embroidered blanket

Shivani Patel, M.D.: When we had our first daughter, my husband’s boss gave us a chamois stroller blanket from Pottery Barn embroidered with our daughter’s name and birthdate. She is now 5 and still sleeps with this blanket.

The blanket is small enough to fit in a diaper bag, school bag, and cubby, but big enough to cover her. And it has withstood weekly washes perfectly! In fact, we got our second daughter the same blanket and give this blanket as a baby gift to our friends and family quite often.

‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’

Julie Lo, M.D.: I thought I was prepared for my daughter’s birth – I had the nursery ready and the clothes washed, and I had even researched how to help my daughter get into a good sleep pattern. Despite all my preparation, I was miserable a week after my daughter arrived. She wouldn’t sleep and we were exhausted. I found myself actually trying to bargain with her to get her to sleep!

My younger sister recommended the book “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” written by pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D. I read it in a couple hours and it saved my sanity. Three days later, we had a calm infant and were significantly more rested. Since then, I’ve had dozens of patients ask for a resource to help their newborns sleep, and I enthusiastically tell them about my experience and pass on this title.

The gift of ‘help’

Patricia Santiago-Munoz: Parents-to-be get a lot of stuff for their newborns. Parents who have multiple baby showers will certainly end up with more gadgets than they could ever use. I like the idea of less “stuff” and more help.

Well-intentioned family and friends will offer to help, but without guidance from you, they might end up being less than helpful. Be clear with your needs. You will want to spend more time with your newborn and less time cooking, cleaning, and running errands, so offer suggestions to those who ask.

Our friend’s mom paid for a home-cleaning service to come to her home for the first six weeks after her baby was born, which was an incredible help to her. If one of your co-workers is pregnant, you could create a sign-up form for volunteers to bring prepared meals to her home when the baby arrives.

We don’t have any immediate family in Dallas, so our good friends volunteered to take our oldest daughter for playdates after her baby sister arrived. It kept her entertained and made her feel important. Since then, when I select a gift for a pregnant friend, I always think of what I can do to make the new parents’ lives easier and less stressful during those early weeks after delivery.

Swaddling made easy

Dr. Nelson's daught swaddled in the Miracle Blanket.
Dr. Nelson's daughter swaddled in the Miracle Blanket.

David Nelson, M.D.: As a newborn, our daughter responded really well to swaddling. Whenever she was fussy and we couldn’t calm her down, swaddling made her happy and comfortable.  But my wife and I learned that mastering the perfect swaddle is hard with regular baby blankets – so we found a shortcut. The Miracle Blanket was an easy way to quickly wrap her up and keep her bundled up. We recommend it to all our friends and family who are expecting babies.

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There you have it: expert advice about what parents-to-be may really appreciate this holiday season! We’d like to hear your suggestions for those still searching for the perfect gift. Share your ideas with us at yourpregnancymatters@utsouthwestern.edu or on Facebook or Twitter.

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