Saturday, April 23, 2011

Newborn Gift Guide – Part III

Newborn Gift Guide – Part III

by Mike Shinn

In the first two parts of the Newborn Gift Guide [ and ], I covered what I consider to be my list of essential practical items to add to your baby registry. These items aren’t always essential for the baby, but key to helping the new parent get by from day to day. Obviously, parents and newborns survived for years without the assistance of injection-molded plastic. Still, we can all benefit from some modern assistance when dealing with our kids. The third and final part of the Newborn Gift Guide focuses on items that are as much fun for the purchaser as they are the user.

It has always bothered me when a friend will use a baby registry for socks and bottles – those things are boring and anyone can purchase them. Not to mention the discomfort that many dads might have buying breast pads for their friend’s wife. Similarly, I have a hard time purchasing dinnerware from a wedding registry. Useful as these items are, they aren’t all that much fun to buy. While not everyone will put Sour Patch Kids on their wedding registry (I did and they were delicious), you do have the opportunity to have a little fun on the baby registry.

Foam Letter and Number Squares: Typically these items are 1-2 feet wide and up to a half inch thick. You can find varying quality in these foam mats if you search around. I recommend at least a centimeter-thick mat, otherwise a strong child could potentially tear off a piece and swallow or choke on it when you’re not looking. These mats can be used for years and are perfect for hard floors where kids will be playing. They have a lot of educational value – spell out the child’s name or review number sequences. You can even build 3D blocks out of them to be stacked up. Washing them is simple (and necessary if you’re using as a second floor). Cost: $20-80

Excersaucer: This three-foot circle will give you hours of free time while your child entertains themselves and develops great skills. At first, you’ll need to show them the ropes of spinning around and turning the various dials or buttons that come with it. Soon, your child will have mastered spinning and will press buttons on their own. Unfortunately you won’t be able to use it right away, but it will be great after they can sit up and support their neck on their own. If you get the saucers with wheels on the bottom, consider lining the outer part of the saucer with felt or the paint on your walls will be destroyed. Cost: $20-150

High Chair: We have all had them and used them. The technological advances made in this product are astounding – they make chairs that can be used from infancy well past toddler years. Unfortunately, if you’re still using a high chair when your child goes to kindergarten, they may not be as prepared for real life as you think they are. I recommend keeping it simple. A basic high chair will have a lap belt for safety and will require your regular supervision regardless of how much you spend. If you’re resourceful, there’s no real need to pay extra for a fancy chair that will electronically adjust to the height of your table. What’s more, this is the type of product that you won’t be able to use for months after the child is born, so do not assemble then you receive one off of the registry. Leave this in the box until later when you can use it! Cost: $30-300

Baby Bouncer: This is one of my favorite toys of all time. Do not miss out on the small window of opportunity to use one of these items. They work great for babies who can support themselves sitting up but those who cannot stand on their own. They work for babies above a certain weight but below a certain weight (check your instructions as this varies). Typically this device can be used for the 3 to 6 month range. It’s not until your child becomes a teenager and wants to use the bungee bounce trampoline at the Earl Warren Fairgrounds, when the fair comes to town, that you get to do this again. Very little assembly is needed, just attach to the top of a door frame and watch your kid bounce. There is an added benefit to this toy of your child gaining leg muscle strength and learning good timing. Cost $30-100

Collapsible Play Tents: These are also a winning toy for children who are crawling or able to walk. They fold up like a car’s sun shade and expand to fill up a huge area – good inside or out. They are a great toy, though not needed immediately. They are a fun gift item, especially when multiple children (and pets) are present. Cost: $20+, depending on quantity and quality

Soft Chair: Small foam chairs are perfect for children learning to sit up. Once their necks are strong enough, these chairs are great for the bath, outside or around the house. Children with older siblings like to be like them and sit like them. They are also crushable and return to their natural form. Cost: $15-30

Play Mat: Before my daughter was born, I had never heard of “Tummy Time.” As your baby learns to turn on their side, they need to spend time getting comfortable rolling around and lying on their belly. Any blanket will do for this, but since you’re registering for fun things, a play mat is even better. They come in many forms, but they typically have a variety of sounds and textures built in to a baby-safe mat with a half-circle hoop that dangles various items. As your child develops, they can learn to bat these items and eventually grab (and pull them down). At first, your child might be afraid of the new experiences that a mat like this offers, but soon they will treasure the time and even lay there on their own while you take a moment to breathe. Cost: $20-50

I mention a lot about registering for these fun items, but typically you don’t get everything that you want after the gift-giving has ended. The items in this article are pure extras, but they are also very valuable when you have them. Unfortunately for the purchaser, baby care items are really only valuable for a relatively short period of time – then they are just taking up space in the house. One can’t just scan in these things to save real estate as you might do for your child’s art. [] As a result, many families in Santa Barbara are often giving up their baby toys and care items at low prices or even for free. If you are in need, just look to craigslist or edhat’s classified ads to get these things! Since you may be busy feeding your child, delegate to an in-law scour these sites regularly for the items you seek. You will be surprised at the high quality items that go for next-to-nothing in this town.


Unknown said...


Baby bodysuits are the foundation for every baby outfit. It provides an easy way to give your baby an extra layer of warmth, and with snaps between the legs, they stay put and keep your baby's other clothing from rubbing up against their new and delicate skin. Thanks.

Nappy Cakes

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hi everyone,

This may be a stupid question (although I know there is no such thing!) but what size of baby clothes are you buying for your baby? I keep looking at vests and sleepsuits and I never buy anything because I can't decide what to get. I just want plain things although we know we're having a boy so can be more colour specific but should I be getting newborn size or 0-3 months? I've been told it's likely I'll be having an ""average"" sized baby so that would suggest newborn, but if he's up at 9lbs or so (a lot of that in both sides of our families!) then he'll grow out of them so quick... But what if he's little and I've got only 0-3 months...?

I'm sure I'm over-thinking this and I guess the obvious solution is to buy both (he'll grow into the bigger size soon anyway) but thought I'd canvas some advice from you guys first! Just don't want to waste a bunch of money on things he won't get any use out of. Or is that just inevitable.