Friday, April 5, 2013

Sophie, swaddling, and sundry stuff

Sometimes choosing a gift for new parents is so hard. With such bountiful options out there, it really is so hard to narrow things down. Even choosing gifts for yourself by registering is a daunting task. I remember spending days with suggested lists of products from Babies R Us, Target, and Walmart. I made an Excel spreadsheet with columns for items I’d chosen, different patterns for the linens, a column to categorize according to level of need, and one for what store they come from. I called family and friends to ask for suggestions as to products that they love, wish they’d gotten, or bought and never used. It was traumatizing. What if I didn’t get the right swing? Should I get a walker, a stationary activity station, an activity mat? All three? None? I think it took me half an hour to decide which pacifiers to register for.

Sometimes I wish I were more like my husband. His “hey, this one looks good” method is too quick and easy for me. Too stress-less. Every time I try to follow is quick pick lead, an endless stream of questions come to mind: “Do I really need this? Do I need more than one? Is this too expensive? Is it too cheap? Does this have the best color design? Will the baby like it?”

Will the baby care what design it on her bib? Absolutely not. Does that stop me from spending longer than I’m comfortable admitting picking them out? You know it doesn’t.

Now that I’ve been through it, buying gifts for our friends who are new parents has become a whole different experience. Now that I’m a mother, I have experienced a sampling of the plethora of products out there; I should just give them my favorite, the one I couldn’t live without, the one I never would have thought to buy had it not been gifted to me. There are still too many to choose!

Do I go with Sophie, la giraffe? Arguably the best baby teether out there. She was one of the first toys Lily could hold on to herself. She has lasted the test of baby chewing, pulling, throwing, and squeezing. To top it all off, she’s French! What more could this maman ask for? We actually have two: one that still squeaks, and one that I accidentally messed up by submerging with water and ruined her squeaker. (This is now our church Sophie.)

What about the washable liners that lay out on the changing table? On those days when we had 3 blowout diapers, and my washing machine just couldn’t keep up, these pads could easily be tossed in the laundry basket and changed out without having to replace the cover for the changing pad and without breaking the bank. You could have a pack of three of these changing pad liners for less than the price of one extra changing pad cover. A definite necessity.

Or maybe I should give the swaddler? I was always a terrible swaddler. When I was post-C-section and relying on my husband to change diapers and even after we’d come home and I was moving around a little more, I was never very good at wrapping Lily in a blanket and getting it to stay wrapped. He was a master. The nurse showed him how she did it, and he could always get it to stay wrapped nice and comfily. I, on the other hand, relied on the swaddler – the one baby product that we made fun of during the registering process. “How silly looking! It makes the baby look like she’s in a cocoon.” For a parent of an infant who won’t sleep unless tightly swaddled, the swaddler was one of the best gifts I received! Swaddling is also the safety way to keep babies warm while sleeping as it’s not recommended to leave them with loose blankets in the cribs as infants.
(This is Lily in her swaddler and her way too big hat at about 5 days old.)

Decisions decisions…

One really cool thing that we did at school for a coworker who had a baby this month is a dinner calendar. Everyone took a day (or two) and signed up a certain meal to provide for dinner for their family for the last two months of school. New parents have SO much to worry about; the last thing a mother needs to spend time thinking about is what she and her husband will eat for dinner. Cooking for me was one of the BEST ways my family and friends supported me in the weeks after Lily was born. So we all signed up, and 4 days after his baby girl was born when our colleague returned to work, he was greeted with a calendar and the following poem:

Congratulations to your family
on your beautiful baby girl!
No doubt she will be the center
of your forever-changed world.

So you can focus on sweet ________,
your adorable beginner,
and to make your lives a little easier,
we are preparing several dinners.

We send you lots of love,
and we wish you little fatigue.
We hope you’ll enjoy these meals
prepared by your friends and colleagues.

Much love,
your friends at _______

What is your favorite thing to give as a baby gift? Or what was your favorite gift someone gave you when you became a parent?

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