By Heather Marr, Birth Doula
I probably don’t need to tell you that the baby-product industry is staggeringly huge. And growing. When my oldest kid was a newborn, nine years ago, there were only a few brands of baby carrier available, including the revolutionary-at-the-time Ergo … which came in only one style, one or two cloth types and two or three nondescript colours. Now there are countless excellent brands, some of which have a cult following of people who collect different sought-after patterns. Same with cloth diapers (as, ahem, Maman Loup knows very well). Not to mention all those to-die-for little baby clothes.
Some of the baby stuff is game-changing and worth every penny (e.g., I can’t overstate the importance of a comfortable, ergonomically friendly baby carrier). Lots of the baby stuff you will never use. All of it is cute and fun to give and receive. Friends WILL probably give your baby more onesies than they need, and possibly even several pairs of newborn shoes (spoiler alert: your little bundle of love, who won’t even be walking for at least nine or ten months, will probably outgrow these before you even remember you have them). And that’s fine.
But let’s face it: besides your breasts or bottles, diapers and wipes, some easy-to-change onesies and sleepers, and maybe the aforementioned baby carrier, your new baby doesn’t need much else.
On the other hand, here are a few things new parents could use: nourishment, warmth, rest, healing, fond memories. Basically, some solid parenting-of-the-parents.
How does this translate to a baby shower registry? In no particular order, here are some ideas.
1- Meal delivery. Ask that someone coordinate a meal train with friends and family, using a website such as mealtrain.com. Or request a subscription to a local meal prep and delivery service, such as Mamaluv. Some even specialize in food for new parents, such as Kitchen Doula.
2- Housecleaning. Now to be clear, there’s no shame at all in letting the housework go to h#%$ in a handbasket. (I do it all the time, and the last time I had a newborn was five years ago.) But a clean bathroom or kitchen, or folded laundry—even if everything else is a disaster—can do wonders for your postpartum sanity. Ask for a couple of professional housecleaning visits … or maybe a few friends and family will volunteer to do this for you!
3- Babysitting (of your other kids). Everyone will be falling all over themselves offering to hold your new baby, which can be awesome, if it doesn’t overwhelm you. (You can use that opportunity to go take a bath, or even better, SLEEP.) But if you have other kiddos, what a glorious gift it could be for everyone if someone were to hang out with them for a few hours, play with them or take them out of the house to the park or to do something else fun—basically, give them the undivided attention it can be so hard for you to provide, now that their new sibling is home.
4- Birth or postpartum doula services (or both!). I know—quelle surprise that this is on the list. (Yep, I’m a doula.) We’re actually becoming a common shower registry item. Consider researching local doulas yourself, and then ask for a gift certificate for your favourite.
5- A prenatal or postpartum massage. Preferably a gift certificate for someone who does home visits!
6- A pregnancy, birth, or postpartum photo session. My husband, a decent amateur photo-taker, snapped dozens of pictures of me when I was pregnant with our first baby, as well as probably thousands of the baby herself. For this I was thankful. Alas, there are very few photos of my husband, and the ones that I took when it did occur to me kind of suck. I believe there are literally two photos of me pregnant with our second kid. We have a decent sampling of second-newborn JPEGs, but nowhere near the number of pics of our first. I so wish we’d sprung for a professional session or two … or better yet, asked for it as a gift!
7- Netflix. Seriously. Or if you already have a subscription, ask for someone whose taste you trust to make a Netflix playlist with good (preferably upbeat, positive, on-the-light-side) shows. Trust me, you’ll be spending many, many hours—often in the middle of the night—all snuggled up with your baby in bed or on the sofa.
8- A pendant made out of your breastmilk. Like the ones North Faun makes by hand. You’ve got to see these. I can hardly imagine a more beautiful and unique keepsake.
9- A long, luxe, soft bathrobe. In a colour or pattern that fills you with joy and makes you feel as lovely as you are. This seems like the most basic of items anyone would already have, but can you believe it was only a year ago that I finally got one that I actually love? I so wish I’d had it in the hospital and at home with my babies.
10- Clothing and other baby stuff. Wait, what? Well, let me clarify: hand-me-down clothing and other baby stuff. As I mentioned before, most expecting parents are given more clothing than their baby can ever use. And even clothing that IS actually used is only ever worn by a single baby for a few months max, so it generally remains in nice condition for a long time. Even cloth diapers can be passed on. Bonus: all these hand-me-downs will carry the positive energy of your beloved friends’ children.
Heather Marr is the certified birth doula behind Rio Doula in Montreal. She’s also a mom of two, native Californian, world traveller and lover of long runs and coffee (though not usually at the same time). She strongly believes that when it comes to pregnancy, birth, parenthood and, well, life in general, it’s about the journey AND the destination.