While I’m not a traditional gal by nature, one of the things I looked forward to the most after I found out I was pregnant with my daughter was having my friends and family surprise me with a baby shower. I used to daydream about the different ways they would try to trick me into showing up at the right place and time, and since I had a small wedding and opted out of having a bridal shower, the idea of everyone I love getting together for an afternoon to celebrate me and my unborn daughter gave me goosebumps.
I couldn’t wait!
But when I hit the 6-month mark and my BFF asked me for a list of names and email addresses so she could get the planning underway, ongoing family drama (once again) got in the way, and my dreams of a playing ‘Guess the Poop’ with my closest family and friends was ruined.
To say I was crushed is an understatement, and while my BFF and in-laws desperately wanted to throw me a shower anyway (‘we just won’t invite your extended family!’), I felt I should be the bigger person and scrap the idea altogether.
Looking back, I really regret that I did that. Not only did I rob my BFF and in-laws of the chance to do something nice for me, but I also missed out on the opportunity to have all of the fabulous women in my life come together to give me their best parenting tips and tricks before I brought my beautiful, colicky baby home from the hospital.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and while I thoroughly enjoyed stocking my daughter’s nursery with all of the things I thought I would need to get us through the first year of parenthood, the truth of the matter is that all of those frilly outfits and fancy bum creams did NOTHING to help me ease into my role as a mother.
And even though I figured it all out in the end (we always do, don’t we?), I’m all about paying it forward and wanted to offer a list of practical baby shower gifts parents actually NEED in hopes I can save another soon-to-be-mom from the ‘oh-my-goodness-what-have-we-done?!’ feelings I had for the first 3+ months of motherhood.
1. SOUND MACHINE
We live in a 1,300-square-foot condo, and while my old college roommate was all about making as much noise as possible when her kids were babies so they didn’t have to tip-toe around all night, every night, until they reached the teenage years, any mother who has experienced colic understands the importance of a white noise maker.
2. SWADDLING LESSONS
No matter how hard I tried, or how many YouTube videos I watched, I could NEVER swaddle my baby the way the nurses in the hospital did, and when I reached the point of desperation, I bought every single type of swaddle our local baby store offered before I finally found one that worked. Looking back, I should’ve just had my grandma move in with us for a week. That woman could do ANYTHING.
3. VACUUM CLEANER / HAIR DRYER
I have no idea who told me to try switching on the vacuum cleaner when my daughter was miserable with colic, but it worked so well I actually burned the motor out of my beloved hoover. Can you believe that? Thankfully, my hair dryer worked just as well.
4. EVERY SINGLE BRAND OF BOTTLE & PACIFIER KNOWN TO MANKIND
I remember doing A TON of research on which bottles and soothers would be best for my baby, and after settling on the most expensive brand of each, I proceeded to clear the store shelves to ensure I was prepared. As it turns out, all babies are different, and while most of my friends’ kids preferred the same brands, I had to experiment with several different makes and models before I figured out which worked best for my daughter.
5. STROLLER TOYS
I assumed stroller toys were for older babies, but when my daughter started to scream at the top of her lungs in the middle of a restaurant when she was about 2 months old, and I frantically started to unbutton my top so I could nurse her back to sleep, a friend of mine clipped one of her son’s stroller toys onto the handle of her car seat and she calmed down instantly.
6. DIAPERS AND WIPES
When my husband and I went to stock up on the basics a month before my due date, he balked when he saw how many boxes of diapers and wipes I threw into our cart.
Him: We’ll never get through all of these.
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Do the math, Dani. If she’s going through 2 diapers a day, and gaining weight steadily, we’ll be lucky to get through one box before she needs a bigger size.
Three days after she was born, he went out and bought 5 boxes of each…
7. FREE BABYSITTING
Leaving a newborn with a babysitter so you can have some time to shower, sleep, and/or spend time with your significant other is really stressful at the best of times (what if something goes wrong?), but having an army of people you TRUST at your fingertips can do wonders in helping you get through the first year of motherhood. Trust me.
8. FREEZER MEALS
I contemplated freezing a bunch of meals before my daughter was born, but since I’m not really a good cook to begin with, I wasn’t overly interested in spending the week before I gave birth slaving over a hot oven. Thankfully, a dear friend of ours showed up with a care package filled with freezer meals, freshly baked banana bread and muffins to offer guests, and half a dozen fruit and veggie smoothies to keep our energy levels up shortly after we got home from the hospital. It was so incredibly thoughtful!
9. GIFT CERTIFICATE FOR A HOUSE CLEANING SERVICE
A few of my friends and I pitched in to buy a gift certificate to a local cleaning company for a pregnant friend a few months ago, and she said it was hands down the best gift she’s ever gotten as she was able to actually REST while her son slept instead of scrubbing toilets and floors.
10. GIFT BASKET OF DREFT HOME PRODUCTS
One of the things that shocked me the most when my daughter was born was how much laundry she created. I felt like I spent 90% of my day moving clothes from washer to dryer to closet and back again, and the remaining 10% scrubbing poo stains out her onesies and sleepers, trying to get the smell of breastmilk out of the cushions on our couch, and washing down every single household surface she might come into contact with.
I have since learned to keep our laundry room stocked with my favorite Dreft home products at all times.
Dreft Laundry Stain Remover. While my 4-year-old is no longer pooing up her back 3 times a day, the preschool years are filled with a slew of other messes, including grass, mud, and various food stains, and once flu season hits, NO PARENT should be without this specially-formulated stain remover that works on even the toughest of stains!
Odor Eliminator and Dreft Fabric Refresher. This fabric cleaner has been a LIFESAVER in keeping our stroller, car seat, and change pad clean. I also use it as a fabric refresher for the pillows on our couch when we have company coming over. It’s the perfect odor remover for those moments when I want to fool my mother-in-law into thinking I deep clean our home AT LEAST once a week. :)
Dreft Gentle Clean Multi-Surface Cleaners. Anyone who has kids knows how dirty and sticky countertops, coffee tables, mirrors, and toys can get with little ones running around, and thanks to this fabulous surface cleaner, there’s a way to clean all of these things (and more!) safely. This multi-surface cleaner is mild to your skin, all of the ingredients are derived from natural sources, it won’t irritate your eyes, and it doesn’t have any strong fumes. I love it!
Don’t forget to download a special coupon for $0.50 off any 1 Dreft Home product (valid on Laundry Stain Remover, Stain Pen, Odor Eliminator/Fabric Refresher, Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Wipes) today by clicking THIS LINK.
What baby shower gifts would you add to my list?
This is a sponsored post. All content and opinions are my own.