It seems that a lot of women I know are pregnant right now, so I’ve been on the search for great gifts that will be gentle for the new baby and helpful to the new (or new-again) moms. Baby shower or not, it’s always fun to buy gifts for expectant mothers, but it’s also important to be conscious of the types of products we choose for the smallest and most delicate people.
If you know a mom who is planning to breastfeed her new baby, as seems to be the norm these days, there are some amazing products out there to make things simpler. My best friend would often refer to breast milk as “liquid gold.” The idea of a drop of breast milk going to waste seemed absolutely painful, largely since it was so difficult to pump between feedings (especially with a newborn who has frequent feedings). A couple of great products for these mothers are Milkies Milk Savers and Milk Trays by Sensible Lines. Milkies Milk Savers are a great alternative to using nursing pads, since instead of just absorbing milk that leaks from you breast, they will actually “catch it” so you can then store it for use later. Once you’ve pumped your breast milk (or “caught” it), it needs to be stored. The Milk Trays are great for this! They look similar to ice cube trays, only each compartment is cylindrical and stores one ounce of breast milk. Each “milk cylinder” can easily slide into a bottle, making it much easier to measure out how much breast milk you’re giving your baby, as well as minimize wasted breast milk. This is something any expectant mother will certainly appreciate!
If you like to give gift baskets why not try a non-traditional alternative. Under the Nile has a “Treasure Box” that is handcrafted with 100% recycled chip board and wild grass paper. The box is intended to double as a keepsake box for saving baby’s first memories. The box has three Egyptian organic cotton gifts inside: a sleep gown that converts to a romper, a skull hat and an elephant ring toy. I like the idea of giving organic clothing as a gift, especially for the youngest babies since their skin can be so sensitive. Organic cotton is a great choice because it’s hypoallergenic and chemical-free. In addition, according to an article on eHow, “A regular cotton T-shirt lasts for approximately 10 to 20 machine wash cycles, before the fibers within the material begin to break apart. Clothes made from materials such as bamboo or organic cotton last for more than 100 machine washes, before the fibers begin to break apart.” So, even though organic clothing may be a little pricier than non-organic, I think it’s well worth the money—since you won’t have to deal with skin irritations AND the clothing will last so much longer.
Another idea if you like gift baskets is to have something hand-painted. This of course doesn’t have to be done with just pails and other items that hold things. I like the idea of taking something sentimental and bringing it to someone who does hand-painting. It’s a great way to reuse something you already have and revive it into something someone else can use for their baby—or maybe even take a family heirloom and give it a face lift for the new baby joining the family. The other thing I really like about this is that it can be done locally–thereby cutting down on gasoline emissions and other negatives brought about by the shipping of mass-produced items. I found someone through my Facebook friends who does this in New Jersey, “Dreams & Wishes Hand Painted Gifts.” If you ask around, I’m sure you can easily find people nearby who do this, as well.
Bath products and diapering products are always a hit at baby showers. I was recently introduced to the Live Clean product line for babies, which use only gentle, plant-based ingredients. I’ve tried the baby wash, shampoo, diaper cream and non-petroleum jelly. It has a pleasant smell, and the wash and shampoo work well. I absolutely love the diaper cream. My daughter often will get tough-to-treat diaper rashes and I’ve used just about everything. After one application of the Live Clean Diaper Cream, her rash completely cleared up. I was shocked when I opened her diaper and saw a smooth bottom. There’s also a new product line just introduced by Jessica Alba and The Honest Company. I ordered the product samples available through the company’s website to give it a try. I found the shampoo to be drying for my daughter’s curly hair, but just fine for my son’s short hair—except he didn’t like the smell and specifically asked me not to use it again. Their diapers, on the other hand are very cute and work well. I like that they’re free of chemicals (like chlorine, perfume, phthalates, lotions, optical brighteners, PVC, heavy metals and organotins), and still disposable. While these diapers are super cute, they simply did not work for my daughter. Shortly after putting one on her, I found she was completely soaked through her onesie and overalls. Of course, this can happen with any diaper since each diaper fits every baby differently, but I’m thinking these may not be the best diaper for a baby who is thin like mine. I think these diapers still might make a nice addition to a gift basket for someone expecting a new baby. They come in adorable designs for boys or girls. If you really want to be generous, you could set up the new mom with a “subscription” to these all-natural diapers and wipes, and they’ll get a delivery each month. I would recommend letting the new mom try these diapers for a week or so before committing to a subscription though.
If you know a mom who might be considering cloth diapering, why not give her a gift along those lines? There are so many cloth diapers available, but I think I nice gift idea is to get a starter pack of cloth diapers—either several diapers from one brand or a couple from different brands so they can decide what they like best. Some of the popular brands include gDiapers, FuzziBunz, BumGenius and Bumkins diapers. Another recommendation, to make cloth diapering more pleasant, is to also purchase a sprayer (like the BumGenius Odor Remover).
If you take the time to find chemical-free products for moms to use, you will show them how much you care about the wellbeing of their new bundle. Keeping baby safe from harsh chemicals in both the products used on their skin, as well as the clothing you put on them is so important. I’ve heard about so many children who suffer with conditions like eczema unnecessarily, when something as simple as switching to organic clothing and all-natural cleansers could make a big difference. By giving organic gifts, you can help these new babies avoid such things—not to mention, who knows what is actually being absorbed into their small developing bodies. Enjoy shopping for new babies, but be conscious of the lasting positive effects your gifts can have when you choose responsibly.