Finding the best gifts for new parents — as fun as it might sound — can be quite tricky. Between picking something that says “congratulations” and shows support, and choosing something practical yet cute, the job is not easy at all.

The best gifts in fact aren’t just things but thoughtful gestures that make the journey of parenthood easier and more enjoyable. To guide you through this process, we talked to parents and parenting bloggers, asking them about the dos and don’ts of getting the best gifts for parents, plus other insights into the world of baby items. We’ve also included several tips on how to optimize your living space to accommodate your new bundle of joy.

Practical baby gifts are the safest bet

Everything fit for a baby is infinitely cute, and most of us might be tempted to get that huge teddy bear or some noisy toy as a present for relatives or friends who are in the process of expanding their families. However, most parents appreciate practical items they can use daily rather than things that may initially impress but ultimately clutter their closets.

Diapers and wet wipes might not sound glamorous as far as baby gifts go but will be appreciated by most new parents. These are items that parents must buy anyway, and they don’t come cheap. New parents pay, on average, between $80 and $100 per month just for diapers, according to the National Diaper Bank Network. “It might be alarming how many diapers and baby wipes that new parents go through in the first few months of having a new baby,” says Troy Portillo, director of operations at Studypool. “Anything that is tied into those daily needs — diapers, wipes, diaper cream — is going to be greatly appreciated, as well as used.”

Tapping into your own parenting experience can give you the inspiration to purchase practical items for those now starting their parenting journey. Alexandra Fung of Upparent most appreciated getting diapers, but she also made the most of other practical gifts such as “muslin swaddles, oversized burp cloths, and my favorite, a super-soft hooded towel large enough that my six-year-old continues to use!”

Along the same line, taking baby out requires preparedness, and anything that can ease the task will most likely be an appreciated gift. For Melissa Terry, CFA at VEM Tooling, it was a diaper bag that did the trick, with “multiple compartments and pockets, making it easier to organize and carry all the essentials while on the go.” If you opt for a diaper bag backpack, the new mom will appreciate it even more, as we all know how important it is to have both hands available when catering to a baby’s needs.

Mother with diaper bag

Getting a baby carrier that allowed her to stay mobile while keeping her baby snug was an “absolute lifesaver” for Amy Smith, a proud mother of two and cofounder or amyandrose.com. Another gift she found particularly useful was a white noise machine. “It mimics the womb’s sound, helping babies sleep better. And trust me, it worked wonders for my little ones,” said Smith.

Most parents will appreciate a big-ticket baby gift, such as a stroller. Whether you’re particularly close to the parents-to-be and willing to splurge, or your group of friends decide to contribute to one major gift, a stroller is a strong candidate for the title of ultimate baby gift. “The most invaluable gift I received was definitely the baby stroller,” Iesha Mulla, a mother of two and founder of Parental Questions, told us. “It turned out to be a lifesaver in maintaining an active lifestyle while ensuring my baby’s comfort and safety. The flexibility it offered for outdoor walks, shopping trips and even for easy maneuvering around the house was unmatched. An added plus was the storage space underneath the stroller, perfect for stashing baby essentials and shopping bags.”

However, if you are planning to get a big, expensive baby gift such as a stroller, a crib or an infant car seat, you should ensure that the parents didn’t already buy one and learn about their preferences regarding brands, features, dimensions and so on. The best way to go about it is to discuss the acquisition with the parents beforehand.

Other gifts that many parents appreciate include age-appropriate toys and books, as well as gifts that center on the parent, such as parenting books, or, why not, vouchers to a spa for a bit of pampering.

Baby shoes and fancy clothing are on the naughty baby-gifts list

Most parents we talked to about baby gifts were firm in sharing that there is absolutely no need for baby shoes, and they didn’t actually use them even if they got them as gifts. To be fair, baby shoes can be extremely cute, so even experienced parents can easily fall into the trap of buying them for friends or family. However, they do top the “least useful baby gift” list. As Amy Smith of amyandrose.com puts it, “Cute? Absolutely. Practical? Not so much. Babies don’t start walking until around 12 months.”

baby shoes

Complicated baby outfits are right next to baby shoes when it comes to impractical newborn gifts. A frilly dress, teeny-tiny denim pants, or impossibly small dress shirts and vests might be hard to resist when you’re shopping for a gift. However, the chances that the parents will actually put these pieces of clothing on their baby are very slim, and the reason narrows down to practicality. “I received several outfits that were not practical for daily wear, either due to the fabric being uncomfortable for the baby or the design being difficult to put on and take off,” explained Melissa Terry. So, if you want to buy clothing for newborns, it’s best to stick with tried-and-true items such as onesies and bodysuits. Even so, make sure you don’t get everything in the smallest size. Babies grow extremely fast, so it’s better to get items in different sizes, which will allow parents to use your gift longer.

Another category of items that show up quite frequently on parents’ “not very useful” list are gimmicky items that serve just one — albeit unessential — purpose. “The least useful baby gift I received was the diaper stacker,” explains Iesha Mulla. “While it’s a common gift and seems practical, it wasn’t very useful for us. With the constant diaper changes in a day, we reached for the diaper pack directly, as it was quicker and more accessible. The stacker ended up being more of a decorative item in the nursery, rather than a functional one.” Other parents have similar opinions about wipe warmers, saying that they don’t help in any real way — on the contrary, sometimes they might even dry out the wet wipes. Potty training sets, baby jewelry, and oversized toys are other examples of gifts that didn’t gain a lot of appreciation from parents.

Post-newborn phase: managing baby items as your child grows

Baby showers are a long-standing tradition for good reasons: Parents need a lot of stuff when their baby arrives, and it can be expensive to buy everything. Hence, family and friends get together to support the parents with gifts for the new baby. But, as necessary as these baby items are, they’re usually in use for short periods of time, from a few months to a couple of years. What should parents do with their strollers, baby carriers, cribs, toys and clothing once their baby outgrows them?

Well, many parents are choosing to keep the items that are in good shape for their future kids, or for family and friends. “We have four kids and definitely kept some specific items to use with all of them,” said Alexandra Fung. She explained that larger items like cribs and car seats were among the items she chose to pass on from one child to the other, as long as they were still within the time frame to use safely.

Other parents decide to keep just a few sentimental items. “I kept my daughter’s very first clothes when she came home from the hospital and her very first dress,” said Julie Ann Ensomo of Adaptable Mama.

Sometimes, the passed-down baby items are family heirlooms that have been used by generations of children within that family. Amy Smith particularly enjoyed a handmade cradle passed down by her great aunt. “Both my kids have used it. It’s items like these that underscore the beauty of passing things down within a family,” she explained.

But to pass down baby items, you must store them properly so they remain in good shape and safe to use. “All the clothes are washed, folded, and packed in vacuum-sealed bags to maintain their freshness and quality,” said Iesha Mullah about her approach. “Furniture and accessories are cleaned and covered with drop cloths to protect them from dust. We also label each item or box with a description and the date it was stored to keep things organized,” she added.

Maximizing living space for growing families: the role of self storage

In an ideal scenario, there is enough space at home to store your baby items and not feel cluttered by possessions. However, this is not the case for most parents. Storage space at home is a hot commodity. You can fix this inconvenience by using self storage. A self storage unit allows parents to hold on to their baby items until they’re needed again, while also being able to use the closets and the storage space at home for items they need every day.

Things like baby furniture and accessories, including highchairs, car seats and strollers, are obvious candidates for storage, as those items are quite expensive and can be used for more than one baby. Clothing is another category of essentials that parents usually keep from one child to the next, as most items are barely used a few times before being outgrown by the child. Of course, good-quality, interesting toys and books should also be saved for the future.

Self storage costs can vary depending on where you live. The national average for a 10’x10’ storage unit hovers around $122 per month. Renting the same type of storage unit in Austin, Texas, for example, is somewhat less expensive, at $113 per month. At the same time, a 10’x10’ storage unit in San Francisco, for example, hovers around $260 per month. To get a better idea about the costs involved, you can check out below self storage prices and availability in some of the country’s major cities:

As all parents know, good-quality baby accessories, furniture, toys and clothing can be quite expensive — so it makes total sense to save them for the future. A self storage unit provides the right environment for long-term storage and allows families to fully enjoy their space at home.

Author

Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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