What’s the Best Baby-Shower Gift?

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Everything the little one — and mom — will need for that first year.

So your best friend had a baby. And you’re completely clueless about the whole enterprise. What do you bring to the shower? Do you go with something cute or useful? (Probably useful.) But what’s the most useful? We decided to find out, asking an array of the world’s foremost baby experts (mostly new moms themselves, but also shop owners, medical professionals, and doulas): What’s the best baby-shower gift? Below, the very helpful responses. (And if you want to start a registry on Amazon, where most of our items are available, it’s a cinch.)

Books and DVDs

“Our very kind neighbors lent us this DVD that taught us how to get her to stop screaming bloody murder in the first few weeks. I can’t tell you the difference it made.” —Emily Ross, assistant provost at School of Visual Arts, mother of a 15-month-old

“I always gift the book Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old. We have twins, and the best gift my husband and I could get is two babies that sleep through the night by the time I went back to work. It was a very easy, practical, and gentle way of sleep training a baby (or two).” —Julia Sloan, senior vice-president, Nars Cosmetics, mother of 4-year-old twins and a 20-month old

Clothing

“Baby socks are notorious for not staying on. These booties will stay on, come in a variety of colors, and for older, more mobile children they have ones with grips on the soles so kids don’t slip on slippery floors.” —Dr. Frances Benedict, pediatric emergency medical doctor, Hasbro Children’s Hospital

This sounds so silly but onesies that zip as opposed to snap are so helpful. Trying to button up on a squirmy babe is tough, especially after a middle-of-the-night diaper change, so we have a lot of these Hanna Andersson jammies. They are the best.” —Madeleine Fawcett, publicist, mother of 7-month-old

“Baby moccasins that will not fall off your kid’s feet and be lost to the sidewalk forever — these are durable, well-designed, and adorable.” —Melissa Tortorella, owner, Pink Olive

“A pair of bloomers are sweet, practical, and not something you would necessarily buy for yourself. For the L.A. crowd, they’re ideal for hot summer days, and in winter some of our customers put tights underneath them.” —Bronagh Staley, owner, Sweet William

Pacifiers and Teethers

“My shout-out goes to the Wubbanub. It saved us. When our girl was still on the younger side, she’d drop the regular pacifier from her mouth and need us to come put it back in — or even hold it in place, and my sister introduced us to the Wubbanub. In those early days, we could wedge the animal part between things to keep the pacifier accessible for her even if it fell out of her mouth, and when she was a little older, she could grab it more easily herself to put it back in. Life-changing.”—Katie Krieger, engineer, mother of an 18-month-old

“My daughter loves this teether. It’s the perfect size for her to hold, soothes her gums when she’s teething, plus the nubs clean milk and food residue from gums and teeth.” —Chelsa Crowley, founder, Stowaway Cosmetics, mother of a 9-month-old

“These teethers are awesome, and very pretty, I might add. Baby loves the bright colors and the ring makes it easy for younger babies to manipulate.”—Gretchen Radzik, art teacher at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School, mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old

“These pacifier strings are fantastic because pacifiers are hideous but pacifier clips are even worse — but very necessary. These make them attractive.” —Cara Sullivan, floral designer, mother of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old

“These LexyPexy organic New York City eco-chic teethers are sustainable maple wood, naturally anti-bacterial, nontoxic, non-allergenic, non-splintering — and handmade with love.” —Melissa Tortorella, owner, Pink Olive

Feeding

“I feel like my life completely revolves around food. It’s really unbelievable how many hours of my current life are spent planning, purchasing, prepping, feeding, and cleaning up food. So anything that helps in that department is vital to me. My daughter has a rare food allergy that limited the snacks that I could take on the go. These little mesh feeders enabled me to give her fresh fruit and veggies without worrying about her choking. They’re also great to put ice in for teething.” —Amanda Olsen, real estate agent, mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old

“I take this little green mat everywhere: Restaurants, friends’ houses, and I even use it at home. It helps me avoid the kids’ food being on dirty germ-filled tables, plus cleanup is easy: You just move the mess from table to sink. Once kids are a little older, it’s great for playing with play-doh, too.” —Amanda Olsen

“These are so great. They’re a green product, and older babies can learn to hold these bottles more easily than others.” —Gretchen Radzik, art teacher at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School, mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old

“For storing milk, this frozen contraption helps keep the freezer organized and makes sure your use your oldest milk first.”—Alicia Birr, naturopathic doctor, mother of a 4-month-old

“These bibs are the best. My husband thought they were weird because they are kind of stiff. But that’s a good thing! When you see how much food collects in the bottom of those bibs, you will understand the logic of choosing that particular material type. Also, you can just clean them with soap and a sponge. Anything that you don’t have to launder is great, bibs especially. They get very soiled and stained. And, honestly, the last thing you want to do is stain-treat a baby bib. I guess you don’t really have to but I always hated putting my daughter in a clean bib with stains on it.” —Elizabeth Verrelli, event planner, mother of a 2-year-old

Chairs

“This chair thing looks so weird but it’s truly a godsend. It sets babies up to eventually sit on their own and it’s the perfect thing to throw them in while cooking or sending emails.” —Madeleine Fawcett, publicist, mother of a 7-month-old

“This high chair is perfect for small-space living, or visiting somewhere without a seat for your kid. It easily connects to a table or counter and you can toss the cloth part in the washing machine.” —Amanda Olsen, real estate agent, mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old

“I took this grocery-cart cover with me everywhere we went. It was great to prevent germs in the grocery store or on high chairs in restaurants, and even better, my daughter loved playing with it.” —Andrea Roberts, teacher, mother of a 5-year-old

“The convertible Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair provides modern seating for an infant but also can turn into a chair that suits a teenager (it can hold up to 300 pounds). ” —Dave Jacobs, owner, Mini Jake

Cribs and Bassinets

“I received a secondhand Arm’s Reach co-sleeper as a gift. The co-sleeper is great since I had a C-section. Using the co-sleeper with the drop-down side means I don’t have to lift the baby up so much in the night. It also looks, and I’m assuming feels, more like a crib so I hope our crib transition is easier.” —Rebecca Schultz, product designer, mother of a 23-month-old and a 6-week-old

“Eco-friendly and adaptable, this crib and bassinet set will take you from newborn through baby years and, with the addition of a toddler conversion kit, can take you all the way through to your child’s first big kid bed.” —Dave Jacobs, owner, Mini Jake

Grooming

“I still love these, even for a 3-year-old. Makes nail cutting much less scary and difficult along the soft keratin of baby nails.”—Amanda Olsen, real estate agent, mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old

“These nose-cleaning tweezers are THE BEST. They sneak right into those tiny nose holes and pull out the hardest-to-reach boogers so your little one can breathe.” —Phoebe Newman, foreign service officer, mother of a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old

“The baby loves this toothbrush during the teething years, and it gets them ready for the toddler adventure of learning to brush.” —Gretchen Radzik, art teacher at Lower Manhattan Community Middle School, mother of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old

“This is a super-gross concept but so helpful. It’s essentially a straw for sucking snot from your baby’s nose. Someone gave this to me; I didn’t pay much attention until I was up half the night with a newborn who was so congested it kept her awake. Did you know that when babies are born they swallow a bunch of amniotic fluid and it gets stuck in their sinuses? I didn’t either. This thing was essentially for those first few weeks and continues to be a lifesaver (until this kid can blow her own nose.)” —Cynthia Domingo-Foraste, attorney, mother of a 9-month-old

Blankets and Swaddlers

“Aden + Anais products are pretty ubiquitous, but this blanket in particular is a tactile paradise. It’s heavier, it washes well, it holds up. My daughter barfed all over this blanket once, like an adult-size power-puke. I thought it was a goner. And it came out of the wash looking like new.” —Elizabeth Verrelli, event planner, mother of a 2-year-old

“This swaddling blanket was the hardest for my daughters to break out of. It helped them sleep like a dream!” — Carrie Naas, historic preservation consultant, mother of a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old

“Hands down, the gift we recommend to most expecting families are swaddles, but not just any swaddle. These by Coveted Things are extra special and truly set themselves apart from the other brands because they’re so versatile—as a swaddle, of course, as a photo backdrop, as a burp cloth, as a nursing cover, as a blankie, as a carriage cover. Plus we love the artwork with beautiful messages in soft organic cotton. My personal favorite is the one that says, “Shit just got real.” — Alex Ng, owner Piccolini NYC

Slings and Carriers

“A baby carrier is a must for city families. The Ergo provides hands-free snuggles for fussy babies, which allows parents to wrangle older siblings and navigate subway excursions. The Ergo 360 4 Position Carrier provides four options for how to carry baby and, with the Infant Insert, can be used from newborn age.” — Dave Jacobs, owner, Mini Jake

“My baby did not want to be put down — she would’ve crawled back in the womb if she could. Both my husband and I used this carrier 24/7 during the ‘fourth trimester.’ Easy to put on, breathable, and the best part is, it’s waterproof.” — Maggie Caron, operating room nurse, mother of a 1-year-old

This is currently unavailable but a similar waterproof carrier is available for nearly half the price

“For a structured baby carrier, I like the Beco Gemini, which you can put your newborn right in, thanks to the buckles and the structure. Babies fit in structured carriers earlier than the wraps, and men tend to love these because they’re sleek and easier to use — it’s just one less thing to master right out of the gate. It gives you hands-free time, and it’s a little less fuss.” — Lindsey Bliss, certified birth doula and educator, Carriage House Birth

Strollers

“I have three boys, and I basically only used this stroller all the way through. The car-seat attachment allowed me to use it from day one, and I still use it today with my 4-year-old. It has gotten so much use and is so tough. Because it’s not huge and has a swivel wheel, you can use it indoors, too.” — Rachael Martelle, home stylist, mother of an 8-year-old, 4-year-old, and 2-year-old
[Ed. click here for our round-up of the best baby strollers.]

“We love the brand-new Bugaboo Bee5. It was just released March 1 and offers amazing mobility, along with an incredible variety of design choices.” — Dave Jacobs, owner Mini Jake

Loungers and Swings

“Hands down, the most useful thing we have is the Dock-a-Tot, it looks like a baby life raft and has magical sleep-inducing powers over our son. I bought it based purely on Amazon reviews and celebrity endorsements, and I reckon I’d be a zombie without it.” — Erin Crawford, financial services, mother of a 6-month-old

“This little bumper jumper is key to your sanity because it allows your baby to sit up, exercise, watch the room, and gives you hands-free moments.” — Phoebe Newman, foreign-service officer, mother of a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old

“On the expensive end of the gift spectrum, the most useful gift we received was this swing. We used it CONSTANTLY for about four months. My daughter insisted on being held at all times, unless I put her in this swing. Without it, I never would have been able to eat or pee.” — Emily Ross, assistant provost at School of Visual Arts, New York City, mother of a 15-month-old

“I received the Leachco Sling–style Infant Lounger as a gift with my second baby, and I love it [editors’ note: we’ve written about this before], especially since I have a 23-month-old as well. I can prop this up on the kitchen table or somewhere out of reach of her ‘gentle’ touches, and know that everyone is safe. It’s also great when it’s time to shower, go to the bathroom, or make a quick breakfast.” — Rebecca Schultz, product designer, mother of a 23-month-old and a 6-week-old

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“The bouncer leans all the way back, which is essential for newborns, plus older babies can bounce themselves to self-soothe. Maybe most importantly, it fits easily through doorways, so new parents can bring it into the bathroom when they need a shower.” — Domino Kirke, certified birth doula and educator, Carriage House Birth

Nursing

“A friend from high school gave me a supersoft, and not ugly, nursing cover that can also be wrapped over a stroller as a shade on a sunny or windy day. We also used it as a blanket for our daughter in the car. It came in super handy for all sorts of purposes, and lives in her diaper bag.” — Maryse Brand, mother of a 14-month-old

“This is a bit much, but totally important: For collecting milk, you place this collector into the bra-cup on your non-nursing side. It’s unreal how much milk I save.” — Alicia Birr, naturopathic doctor, mother of a 4-month-old

“For breastfeeding moms, this lanolin ointment is a MUST. It lends itself to easy and painless application. Other brands are too thick to apply. Nursing pads are essential for every nursing mother. The Lansinoh brand is the most comfortable and least abrasive. Get these as a set.” — Dr. Frances Benedict, pediatric emergency medical doctor, Hasbro Children’s Hospital

“New moms need many nursing bras, but you don’t need to spend a fortune. I really love these, plus they’re cheap, so you can get lots.” — Jo Zasloff, certified nurse midwife, Central Park Midwifery, New York City

Sound Soothers

“This was my little sleep miracle when my babe was a newborn. It creates a rhythmic shush sound that’s soothing to babies. She loved it, and it lulled her to sleep every time. It only has two settings — 15 minutes or 30 minutes. It’s no frills, but amazing, and so small it’s easy to take on trips.” — Chelsa Crowley, founder, Stowaway Cosmetics, mother of a 9-month-old

“A must-have noise machine to help babies fall asleep. As they get older, they will love having the noise that helps them fall asleep.”—Dr. Frances Benedict, emergency pediatric medical doctor, Hasbro Children’s Hospital

Bathtubs and Bath Accessories

“I totally registered for a fancy high-tech baby bath, and a friend had the nerve to show up to our baby shower with this one. Obviously, she knew something I didn’t. It’s amazing and works just as well for an infant as it does for a toddler. Our 2-year-old loves bath time in this tub. In the first couple months, we added a sponge-bath cushion for extra support, since she was born on the small side.” — Lauren Hart, engineer, mother of a 23-month-old

“Flower petals that surround your baby and literally turn anything — a sink, your lap — into a tub.” — Cara Sullivan, floral designer, mother of a 5-year-old and 2-year-old

Diaper Changing

“This seems ridiculous (can’t you just use your fingers?), but trust me, this thing was a lifesaver when solid foods came into the mix — I found that I was applying more butt cream than was humanly possible to this tiny human. Made that process not only easier but also less gross. (i.e., no more butt cream under your nails ladies!). I buy this for all my new mom friends.” — Chelsa Crowley, founder, Stowaway Cosmetics, mother of a 9-month-old

“If I have this changing pad, I don’t have to carry a bulky diaper bag. It can easily go from my purse to the stroller to the car.”— Sofia Sayer, designer, Sofia Invitations and Prints, mother of a 2-year-old and 11-month-old

“Everybody swears by the Diaper Genie, but we found this simple diaper pail was just as good and more attractive. We also liked that there’s an option to use washable cloth liners.”— Alicia Birr, naturopathic doctor, mother of a 4-month-old

“Mustela baby products are the best-smelling baby products in the world. They’re also European, so obviously superior in every way. I was given this exact gift bag, and I loved, loved, loved it. I thought the thing that was like ‘no rinse cleansing fluid’ was dumb, and that I’d be unlikely to ever use it — since I planned on bathing my baby like a human being. But — this stuff is amazing for cleaning under a baby’s neck. They get very gnarly neck cheese from little dribbles of milk. It’s also good after a big poop. Regardless of how well you wipe a butt with baby wipes, it will still have a faint poop smell that you might notice if you’ve literally ever kissed your baby’s ass.” — Elizabeth Verrelli, event planner, mother of a 2-year-old

“The modern Keekaroo Peanut Changer offers comfort for baby and easy cleaning for parents. No cover required, which just means one less thing you need to handle.” — Dave Jacobs, owner, Mini Jake

Toys and Games

“This Atlanta-based team has collaborated with Peruvian artisans for the past 15 years to bring these delightful, hand-knitted dolls to children worldwide. So soft and cuddly.” — Melissa Tortorella, owner, Pink Olive

“These stacking baby cups. Holy shit. I cannot believe how much mileage we’ve gotten out of them. They can be incorporated into almost any level of developmental play. At first, she used to just gum on them. Then we stacked them as intended. Then we brought them into the bath for water play. Now she will put a spoon in one and bring me a ‘cup of coffee.’” — Elizabeth Verrelli, event planner, mother of a 2-year-old

“Even though many families are trying to stay away from these sorts of fluorescent plastic nightmares, this freestanding tripod swing can be a lifesaver. And while we try to be holistic, we also are realistic. There’s a mirror and some sound effects, and it can swing very gently to quite aggressively. It really kind of takes care of itself. Of all the things to have, this might be one to concede to. You have to cook, or you have to write an email, and sometimes you don’t want a baby on your hip when you’re doing that.” — Samantha Huggins, certified birth doula and educator, Carriage House Birth

For Mom

“The last thing a new mom has time to do is cook. They’re tired and will want food, but ordering out gets old. An Instant Pot makes the easiest dinners.” — Jo Zasloff, certified nurse midwife, Central Park Midwifery, New York City

“For any woman who’s just had her first child, her third, or just had surgery. It helps new moms feel that sense of stability in their bodies after they give birth. Some women complain about that phantom belly and their equilibrium being off. This is great for pelvic-floor health. Women who wear them, especially after surgery, tend to just feel better and have more energy.” — Domino Kirke, certified birth doula and educator, Carriage House Birth

“When you get home from the hospital, things can be messy. It’s great to have a few sets of dark sheets, so you don’t stain all your nice, pretty white ones.” — Jo Zasloff, certified nurse midwife, Central Park Midwifery

“In our practice we give all of our new mamas a postpartum, herbal sitz bath, but most providers don’t. They’re soothing to the personal area, and will help speed up recovery.”—Jo Zasloff, certified nurse midwife, Central Park Midwifery

Miscellaneous

“Warning: This is kind of gross, but they are other things that I received as a gift and have been grateful for: FridaBaby Windi, which is similar to the nasal aspirator (something else I love), but this single-use catheter is for relieving a baby’s gas. I know, I know, not the most pleasant subject, but all moms should have one.” — Chelsa Crowley, founder, Stowaway Cosmetics, mother of a 9-month-old

“So no one tells you that the car seat is really a pain to lug around. This little cushion really saved my arm whenever I was toting it to and fro.” — Carrie Naas, historic preservation consultant, mother of a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old

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What’s the Best Baby-Shower Gift?