Before every parent-to-be enters the store (or let’s be real, logs onto their laptop) to register for their first child, the excitement is paramount. Expecting couples ooh and ahh over the adorable nursery themes and stylish baby carriers. No one can blame them—after all, this moment makes it all the more real, and some of that stuff is deeply cute.
However, it can be easy to go from feeling “excited” to “overwhelmed” pretty quickly when you find yourself staring into a vast abyss of baby… stuff. So much stuff. So, like any unwitting parent, you may end up with nonsense like “wipe warmers” and “pacifier wipes.” Somewhere between the truly meaningless items and genuine essentials like car seats and strollers, there are a few unexpected, clutch gifts that truly come in handy for the baby-filled days ahead.
Here are a few items real parents received that they say made (and for some, still make) all the difference in caring for their little one.
1. A Folding Highchair
Fancy highchairs? Fuggetaboutit. The truth is, all a kid needs for the high chair days is something sturdy, safe, and simple—a chair that makes meal times as painless as possible—which is why one Philadelphia area mom, Jess P., swears her foldable chair is a life saver.
“We literally used it daily. We folded it up and stuck it under our bed and would stick her in it with some Cheerios in a pouch and Sesame Street on the TV in the mornings while we were getting ready for work/daycare everyday. Takes up zero room when folded. We also threw it in the car when going to anyone’s house.”
2. The Owlet Smart Sock
The first few months of parenthood, while lovely in many ways, are also fraught with worry. And with everything being so new, that’s only fair! Anything that can take some of the guesswork out of those first few uncertain times is invaluable, which brings us to our next parent recommendation.
“Owlet Smart Sock,” says new dad Robert N. when asked what his family’s favorite baby gift was. “My girlfriend was a nervous wreck about making sure he was still breathing when he was sleeping, and it really helped her peace of mind.”
This gadget is actually the first baby monitor that can track a baby’s oxygen level and heart rate while they sleep. The minute the baby’s preset “safe” zones are left, parents are alerted to let them know if the baby really needs you versus jumping at every grunt and sound.
3. The Perfect Bassinet
It’s no surprise when asked what items helped our parents out most, they replied with items that helped both their baby and them get some extra shut-eye. One way for parents to feel better about putting the baby down for the night? Knowing they have a sturdy, safe place to sleep.
“Halo BassiNest,” advised mom of one (and one on the way) Megan J. “I’ve loaned it out to two other moms and will use it again for baby #2. It’s safe for baby, and an easy fit in our room. It’s very stable, so I wasn’t even worried our two dogs would knock it over.”
The Halo BassiNest gives parents the ease of sleeping close to the baby without compromising safety. With a 360 degree swivel and a patented lowering bedside wall, it makes it easy for moms to tend to their little ones in the middle of the night without much fuss.
4. Baby Towels
In case anyone wasn’t aware: babies are gross. Don’t be fooled by those sweet faces and ovary-melting coos—fluids drip from their every orifice, and it’s the parent’s duty to tend to them. That’s why not one, but two dads from separate households said towels and washcloths were the best gifts they could’ve gotten.
“Two family members each bought us really nice apron-towels—the kind you can affix around your neck and use to pick up the baby from the bath and keep them wrapped up while you hold them, with a little hood on the end to put over the baby’s head,” shared dad of one, Peter M. “Seven years later, and these are still the towels the kid uses coming out of the bath every single day. Now she just wears them like a cape!”
5. Sick Day Essentials
The first cold is one of the more unfortunate “milestones” every parent struggles with. There is a general sense of aimlessness that comes with those first sad sniffles, but the good news is you can be prepared… at least physically, if not emotionally.
“This is not an exciting gift at all, but by far the best gifts were the humidifier and NoseFrida,” says mom of two Tori H. “When they get those first little colds you feel so helpless!”
While most people are familiar with humidifiers, the NoseFrida that Tori suggests is an inexpensive tool any seasoned parent wants in their arsenal (even though it’s honestly a little gross). Literally called “The Snotsucker,” the nasal aspirator is simply placed against the child’s nostrils (not inside) to create a seal as the lucky parent uses the red mouthpiece to literally suck the snot out. Don’t worry, no, snot doesn’t go anywhere it’s not supposed to, and baby will sleep so much better after their little nose has been cleared out.
6. A Helping Hand
Sometimes the best baby gifts have nothing to directly do with the baby and still end up making a huge difference. That’s why mom of one, Brianna S., suggested adding a robot vacuum onto a registry list.
“I can put it on in other rooms while I play with the baby. I clean rooms without actually being in that room! It’s a major time saver and totally makes me feel less overwhelmed with house chores.”
There are tons of options when it comes to robot vacuums, but the most well known and basic model by iRobot comes highly recommended.