Baby gifts I wish you wouldn’t give me

 
Since I’ve been on a bit of a parenting theme, I thought I would share something else I was passionate about in that vein – gifts that I  would rather not have that nevertheless seem to be very commonly given.  Followed by some useful suggestions if you are considering gifting to a family with a new addition.  Here is my list of “no-no’s”:

1). Newborn sized clothes (and other clothing mishaps):

It might seem to be the most intuitive gift you can give a new baby, but it really is not that helpful.  Many of us know someone that has had a baby and given us some hand me downs.  Chances are we already have a good stash of clothes to fit the baby by the time he or she arrives.  If you really must buy us clothes, consider buying in the 6-12 month range, and purchasing from a second hand store.  Some of us who have big babies don’t even end up using our 0-3 month clothes for very long.  Furthermore, there really is no need to buy “new” clothing items for babies at this age, as many items in the thrift shop will be new or like new anyway.  Some people’s babies completely bypass certain wardrobe items based on seasonal inappropriateness of sheer size of the baby when they were born.  It is just super wasteful to buy new items when you can re-use.

And if you do buy us clothes, please consider buying us functional items.  We don’t need fancy dresses and awkward coveralls that will just sit in the drawer because they are difficult / impractical to use. Get us some onesies, soft pants, or zippered sleepers.  Do not even consider buying me something with buttons.  Snaps I will tolerate.  Buttons?  Seriously, it’s 2015 here.  Take a look at the item and see if it will be difficult to get on and off of baby, or if it will impair their movement at all.  If the answer to one of these questions is yes, it will likely just sit in the drawer and go to the thrift shop.  

Finally, please avoid buying things that say “little princess” or “Daddy’s MVP” – just no.  It may sound cute to you, but many of us don’t like to genderize our kids this way.  Best to buy items that don’t have text at all, just fun colours and patterns please!

2).  Thick polyester blankets, those “blanket & buddy” sets, and stuffed animals in general:

You know what I’m talking about.  Those god awful thick, sweaty sets that come with a blanket and a matching stuffed animal, or any other such mishap.  Babies don’t do well in polyester blankets.  They don’t allow baby’s skin to breathe.  Cotton / natural fibres only, please.  And we don’t need a matching stuffed animal to go with it.  In fact, just no stuffed animals in general.  Especially if I have an older child as well, because then it just ends up in their already massive collection that began when they were a newborn getting matching stuffed animals and blanket sets.  And everyone thinks we need a blanket, so we end up with 10 blankets that take up half the closet.  If you are going to buy us blankets, go for the Aden & Anais swaddlers or other such muslin lovelies.  Especially because they are too expensive for me to justify purchasing myself!

3).  Baby related knick knacks:

It’s sweet and all, but it’s just another thing that I have to dust, and that eventually may get thrown on the ground and broken by my children.  There is going to be enough baby related stuff around that serves a functional purpose, that I don’t need to add to the clutter with a decorative item.  Please just leave that stuff in Pier 1 and walk away.  Walk.  Away.

“So what can I get you, then?”

Well, I am so glad you asked.  If you know someone with a new baby and you want to help out by gifting, here are some ideas for you, in addition to the suggestions already mentioned above.

1). Money.  Seriously, write us a check.  So many things come up last minute that you weren’t expecting.  You may have bought something that didn’t work out and need to purchase a different item.  There are so many large items that you need as a new parent that you can’t expect any single person to fund in their entirety, so it’s nice to pool money towards these things.  Not to mention just the ongoing costs of things like diapers or a diaper service, formula for moms who are unable to breastfeed, food for that super hungry new breastfeeding mama, childcare costs……the list goes on.

2). Food.  Come by with some yummy take-out.  Prep us some freezer meals.  Give us some restaurant or grocery store gift cards.  We always need to eat, and it is so lovely to not have to worry about cooking a meal when welcoming a new addition.

3). A quality toy or activity for my older kid.  Read: an educational and preferably quiet toy or activity, hopefully not composed of cheap plastic.  Or better yet, come take him out to the park to play.  He is likely feeling neglected with all the extra attention going to baby.  Showing him some love is showing some love for the new baby, as the emotional balance hangs by a thread in the early days.  The more balanced everyone is feeling, the more quality time can be invested into the new life.

4). A one of a kind, handmade item for baby.  If you really feel the need to give us a token for the new arrival, consider purchasing something that is special, ethically sourced, and uniquely crafted – or handmake yourself.  Again, make it something that baby can use later on and not just for a few days in the early weeks (ie. don’t knit me a sweater that only fits up to ten pounds – if you put that much effort into something, I want to be able to use it)!  One beautiful idea of something to purchase is a Bamboletta doll or something similar (there are many beautiful creations for babies on Etsy).  Something unique and made with love, that this child would use for years to come.  And something we definitely could not afford to purchase for ourselves!

I hope this list helps you in your search for that “perfect gift” for the new arrival in your life.  Your loved ones will thank you for your thoughtful consideration, and you will feel satisfied that your gift is being used to it’s full potential!  Happy gifting 🙂

What the heck is ‘no-poo’, anyway?

So I have replaced my shampoo with a very simple alternative, and have been going strong for months now. It’s called ‘no-poo’, and it’s trending, even among some celebs. How many ingredients do you need? Three! Baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and….wait for it…..water. You will also need two shampoo bottle sized squirt-able bottles. I used my old dishsoap bottles. A bit of the essential oil of your choice if you so desire. The howto? Up next!

Start with mixing, in the first bottle, about 3 – 4 tbsp of baking soda to about 3 cups of water. Experiment to get the dilution that feels right in your hair. I like a bit heavier concentration. Shake it up before use – depending on how much hair you have (I have very little), your bottle may last a few uses or many.

In the second bottle, mix about one part apple cider vinegar to one part water. Reduce ACV if you find this too strong. Add about 5-10 drops of the essential oil of your choice if you want to mask the vinegar smell during use (it doesn’t linger on your hair afterwards, so the scent is mainly for your own benefit).

Wet hair. Apply the baking soda mixture to your hair so it is saturated with the stuff and massage in. Next, saturate your hair with the apple cider vinegar mixture and massage again. The reaction between the baking soda (a base) and the vinegar (an acid) creates a wonderfully pH neutral environment in your hair, leaving it silky smooth and healthy with no residue. Rinse thoroughly!

You can also experiment with adding some vegetable glycerin (about 1 tbsp) to your baking soda mix for extra moisture. Furthermore, some folks choose to rinse each step separately instead of combining the two. And others skip the ACV entirely. You do what feels right for you hair – after experimenting a bit, you will get used to what works for you!

According to some, there may be an ‘adjustment period’ (anywhere from a few days to a few weeks) where your hair’s natural oils (which have been stripped with traditional shampoo) come in a little strong, and you may get a slight oiliness to your hair. Once your hair adjusts to not having the oils stripped from it so frequently, the oil will tone itself down. I myself didn’t notice this happen with my hair, but the warning is due as I have heard that this happens!

No parabens or other harsh chemicals for your hair, just good, clean, natural ingredients that pH balance your hair and scalp! Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

UPDATE 01/06/2014: I have had some questions re: using No-poo on colour treated hair. From researching folks’ anecdotes on many a forum, it seems to be either a non-issue, or to protect your colour BETTER than shampoo. If in doubt, use a lower concentration of baking soda.