Over the last year or so, a few of our friends have been experiencing the joy of parenthood (or know someone who is) and we’ve had to figure out what to get them as a baby shower gift.  Most of the time, the parents-to-be have a gift registry of what they want, but I’ve found out (granted after I had Ian), that what was on my registry wasn’t always what I needed. For instance, I didn’t have a single toy for Ian when we brought him home.  It didn’t dawn on me to include any on the registry or to pick any up (trying to play with a newborn is frustrating enough without having a toy around to get their attention).  So I started deviating off of registries and getting items that I knew would come in handy. Usually this meant items that were family cheap and it allowed me to get more.

Now I have a few friends who are asking about gift ideas and I thought I would write down my suggestions.  These are random items that I either couldn’t live without or found to be truly excellent (and Ian loved as well).  Most of my suggestions are all under $20, so they are completely reasonable as gift ideas.

The first suggestion I have is a Sassy Earth Brights Wooden Trio Toy. It doesn’t have to be this exact toy (this is the one we had for Ian), but something from this line. The wooden toys with the color fabric is a great sensory toy and they come in so many different shapes and sizes.  They not only make noise when they are clinked together, but each fabric generally has a different feel to it, so it’s expanding baby’s knowledge too.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about (s)he teething on it since it’s wood.

Both Ian and I loved the Bright Starts 3-Piece Chill and Teethe Teethers. These are a must have!  Before, I had only seen the bigger teethers and we had them for Ian, but he had such a hard time getting them into his mouth, that he wouldn’t use them.  When I found these, instant success.  They come in different shapes, but each one fits in an infants mouth.  Plus they weren’t so big around that Ian couldn’t glasped them with his tiny hands.  Even now, at 22.5 months, Ian still loves chewing on them.  He’ll still reach for these instead of the bigger ones.

You may not think the Sassy 24-Piece Lively Links are all that great, but you’ve probably never had to bend over multiple times trying to pick up a toy either. These things are great; I wish I had found them sooner.  You can attach them to the car seat, through other toys, the stroller and nothing will get lost.  Plus, you link a few of these together and they can act as a rattle and they are perfect for tiny hands.  Ian always had a blast swinging these around.  Another benefit to these is that they come in different colors and textures.

I highly recommend the Hyland’s Teething Tablets. These work wonders for Ian while he was teething. They instantly desolve on his tongue and I was able to give him between 1-3 tablets depending on his pain.  They are homeopathic, so I wasn’t giving Ian any kind of drugs for the minor annoyances that teething usually has (before bed, he did get either Tylenol or Motrin).  They don’t last all that long (I want to say 4 hours), but you can give them to any baby up to 3 times a day…a lot more than Tylenol and Motrin and they’re not harmful.  You can find them individually at Meijer, Wal-mart, Walgreens, etc and they are pretty reasonably priced.  Ian loved them and got to the point where, if he was teething and his gums hurt, he would point these out because he knew exactly what they were for.

A great starter book for any baby is
That’s Not My Puppy (Usborne Touchy Feely) (or any of the other books from this line). They have bright pictures and different textures to feel on each page, plus the content is simple to read and repetitive for any child to pick up on. Ian still loves them and we’ve added quite a few from this line to his collection.

Another great book is Goodnight, Baby by Ikids and Ana Larranaga. You basically put all the babies back in their beds and tell them good night.  Initially, Ian couldn’t do it so I did, but it didn’t take him long before he knew what to do and wanted to do it.  It helped with his coordination and his fine motor skills; and the words were simple enough that he enjoyed listening to them time and time again.

Here are a few other books that Ian recommends. And a few more.

This was the most brillant thing I had for Ian (aside from my Boppy). The Boppy Prop Up Play Pad was awesome. This is probably the one gift I have given again and again when I go for just one item (it’s the most expensive on this list at $25). We bought this for Ian because it was recommended to us to put Ian on his tummy as soon as we brought him home (which we did), but he couldn’t keep his head up. This allowed him to be on his tummy and kept his head propped up so it wasn’t buried in the flour. It’s a smaller version of the Boppy, so it was great while he was little and couldn’t hold his head up. Once he started getting bigger and tried to sit up, we were able to use this again as back support. We had him sitting up on his own way before he could actually do it simple because of this. It also comes with a few toys, so while Ian was sprawled over it, he could reach out and grab at the toys. It also comes in a more girly pink version, but even though this is the boys version, I still prefer it to the other since it seems more neutral than strictly boys.

Shirts w/Mittens is a must. They can be a bit hard to find, but I have seen them at Meijers.  Basically, any kind of shirt and PJs with mittens for the first three months are essential.  Ian would grab ahold of his hair and start pulling, then he would start screaming which would make him pull his hair even more.  He would also claw at his face with his nails.  Having the mittens on his shirt were great because he couldn’t fling them off and it prevented him from pulling his hair or using his nails on anything.  This helped him get to sleep so much better that I went out and tried to find more.  These are very much worth the effort of tracking them down and I always include them in any gift I’m giving.  Baby R Us has PJs with mittens, and they may have the shirts, but I know Meijer gets them in the neutral tones of yellow.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, but if I come up with anything more, I’ll add to it here.  Does anyone have any items that they found they couldn’t live without?