Until I became a parent, I was often baffled by what to give a mom or family when they had a second (or third or fourth!) child. First babies are so easy to shop for; there are showers and registries and parents are often starting from scratch, increasing the chances of giving a gift that actually fills a need. But the second time around, gift-giving becomes a bit more challenging. What can I give that will really be appreciated?
With my own second baby on the way, I’ve been giving this question a lot of thought. I also reached out to tons of other moms to see what was helpful after they brought home baby number two. Between my own wish list and their ideas, here are some gifts that are likely to delight (and, perhaps more importantly, really help) parents bringing home a second baby!
A Clean Car
This one is at the top of my wishlist this time around. My car – mostly thanks to my toddler – is trashed and my big belly isn’t doing me any favors in terms of picking up the assortment of long lost goldfish crackers and empty sippy cups that haunt its floor mats. It’s so icky that it pains me to think of putting a sweet new baby in it.
And chances are, I’m not alone. Most any mom–especially a pregnant one with a kid or two in tow–has a car that could use a deep clean.
So please, someone, get me a gift certificate to a carwash, and be sure it’s the kind of place that will deep clean the inside of the car.
Don’t assume second or third-time parents are all set with baby supplies. Our crib mattress is now in a toddler bed and some things (my diaper bag, for instance) simply didn’t survive the first child. Other things were borrowed and have now been returned.
Most families adding a kiddo still have some major baby shopping to do. Gift certificates to catch-all places like Target or Amazon can be lifesavers. Even $5 or $10 will really be appreciated and can go toward anything from diapers to double strollers.
Babysitting the Big Kids
Whether it’s before baby comes or after the new one’s arrival, set a date to watch the other kiddos. Pre-baby, a “babymoon” date night would be amazing. After baby’s here, sweeping in to take the big kid out on a Saturday morning will give the new parents some down time to focus on the new babe. Even just an hour or two can be a huge help.
Food, Food, and More Food
With a new baby in the house, it’s easy to let dinner slide until it’s 6 p.m. and the toddler is having a hanger-related meltdown and mom is trapped under a nursing baby, dreaming of a hamburger.
Food is almost always appreciated.
Meal trains are awesome, but you don’t even have to bring a meal. Easy-to-grab snacks, frozen cookie dough, or a bag of nice coffee are all likely to be appreciated.
If you do want to bring a meal outside of an organized meal train, make it low pressure–something that can go right into the freezer for later or a gift card for a place that delivers!
The weeks and months after a new baby’s arrival are a whirlwind and moms (and dads) often have a hard time stopping and taking care of themselves. So, consider something nice for the parents. Maybe a prenatal or postnatal massage for mom, or some yummy treats (alcohol, coffee, ice cream, chocolates), or anything that feels special. One mom suggested: “something beautiful or cozy for mom to wear like a scarf, slippers, or robe.”
And it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to feel luxurious. From another mom,
One of my good friends showed up with a six-pack and a box of diapers and I felt SO SEEN.
Things like Amazon Prime, a Costco membership, a month at a yoga spot for prenatal or postnatal yoga, a subscription to Netflix or Hulu, or a membership to a local botanical garden or children’s museum can make life a little easier (and maybe even more fun) for the family.
Shopping clubs often have low prices on staples like diapers, snacks, and formula. Netflix or Hulu can help parents survive long nights up with baby or even help entertain little ones with a bit of screen time. And memberships to local attractions help make easy outings for the newly-expanded family.
Don’t be afraid to check in with the family before actually buying a membership (to be sure it will be helpful), but if someone offers me a Costco membership or a month of yoga, I won’t be saying no.
Something to Keep The Other Kids Busy
I’m not a huge believer in “sibling gifts” (as in the idea that if you’re visiting a new baby, you should bring a gift for the sibling so they don’t feel left out), but if there’s something simple and inexpensive that might help keep an older child busy (a new coloring book, stickers, puzzle, art supplies, small lego set, a couple Dollar Tree toys, books, etc.), most parents would welcome it. One mom I know said,
One of my favorite gifts was the tub of homemade Play-Doh and random little toys to play with it that held my other kids’ attention for sooooo long every day of the first few days my husband went back to work!
A Gift Off the Registry
What?! First, people are wearing white after Labor Day and now this? Registries for a second baby?
Okay, the truth is many second-time parents create baby registries, even if they don’t share them with friends and family. It’s a convenient way to keep track of a shopping list and there are some nice perks for signing up like thank you gifts, coupons, and discounts. So, if you’re shopping for a parent with a new baby, it’s worth asking if they have a registry or even just peeking at Amazon or Target (or where ever they like to shop) to see if they have created one.
SO many moms I talked to were thrilled with the gift of a housecleaning service, even if it was just a one-time visit. This was one of the favorite gifts that came up over and over again. A few comments from my mom friends on this topic:
House cleaning service, OMG.
Best gift ever: house cleaners.
I want this so bad.
Since this gift can be pricey and personal (strangers coming in to clean my house freaks me out a bit, I must say), it’s worth reaching out to a family beforehand to see if this would be helpful.
An easy and low-budget variation of this, of course, is to help out with a chore or two yourself, especially easily delegated things like dog walking, lawn mowing, or snow shoveling.
Even small tasks can feel daunting with a new baby in the house. After my son was born, my husband and I realized we needed help stacking firewood outdoors and a couple friends came and stacked it for us. I will never forget what an immense help that was. It not only took care of a to-do, it made us feel less stressed and supported.
First babies get a lot of special, memento-kind-of-stuff: hand-knit blankets, puzzles in the shape of their name, or special “Baby’s first” holiday ornaments. Second babies, well, they sometimes get shafted a bit in this area. So, if you’re the sentimental type, consider getting a “first baby” type gift for a second or third baby.
I hope this list is helpful for those who want to give a gift to a family with a new baby, but it’s important to note that gifts certainly aren’t required or expected for every new addition to a family.
One of my mom friends said that for her, the most meaningful thing people did was simply to check in or visit after her second baby was born.
I felt like I got a lot more of that with the first but not so much with the second,
Another mom agreed,
Yeah I got way less acknowledgement in general. Even mailed cards would have been nice since we didn’t need many gifts.
So whether or not you come with a present in hand, be sure to check in on your friends with new babies. That’s likely the very best gift of all.