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6 Baby Shower Gifts That Mom Will Actually Use

10/14/2015 02:14 EDT | Updated 10/14/2016 05:12 EDT
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Four women opening gifts at a baby shower

I started off calling this post, "Baby Shower Gifts For People Who Hate Buying Baby Shower Gifts," but I had a feeling you might all squint your eyes and close your browsers. Here's the thing -- I'm not the hugest baby shower fan and I get really grumpy about gifts that aren't useful.

It's not that I don't love celebrating the imminent arrival of babies -- you guys know I'm a trained labour doula, right? Babies rock my world and I want to party it up for my baby belly friends. But cutesy stuff irks me and I get a little woozy at the site of all that plastic, and colours, and toys that make noise, and 400 newborn onesies that'll fit for about three minutes.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my (well-meaning) mother threw The World's Biggest Baby Shower Ever. She invited 60+ people, and most of them I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW. Her thoughts? My daughter needs stuff for baby! My thoughts? Oh my lord, everyone is looking at me and how will I fit this stuff in my house?

I promise I'm not being ungrateful, but my introvert self met my minimalist self and somewhere in the middle of having to open all of those gifts in front of a crowded backyard filled with strangers, I was desperately wishing I could click my heels three times and get the heck out of there. This may have been the traumatic event that made me vow only to buy baby gifts that are 100 per cent useful, or it may just be the fact that six years of parenting taught me that there are things you need and things you'll never even open.

Forget about the uber-cute size 0-3 month onesies with ruffles and madness all over them, folks. Go for the bulk pack of onesies with the snaps at the bottom, or zippered jammies because they take .09 seconds to take off when baby blesses mom and dad with their first blow-out. And if onesies ain't your thang -- check out my fave ideas below!

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Muslin Swaddle Blankets: Swaddling blankets are a must-have. While the lightweight muslin is perfect for swaddling, it's also an incredibly versatile fabric with an open weave for awesome breathability.'These beautiful muslin blankets from One I Love make the perfect blanket for adding an extra layer when you're wearing your baby, or to the top of a stroller or car seat when baby is asleep. These come in a pack of four so mama can keep one on hand at all times -- in the car, the diaper bag, and probably a couple in the wash. One I Love also has wonderful gift ideas for baby, like these beautiful organic wooden toys.

Stretchy Wrap: This is often my go-to gift for new mamas. A wrap (like the CuddlyWrap, Moby Wrap or Monkeywrap) is such a fantastic way to carry, soothe and bond with baby. In my experience, babies are super chill and blissed-out when snuggled up close to mom or dad in the wrap. It might seem daunting to start, but once you've wrapped it a couple times, you'll be a pro. I like to give this with a demonstration, or at least a few links to YouTube videos that will help the new mom use it. Babywearing was life-changing for me, and I love seeing the looks on my friend's faces when they see how much their babies love it too. Wraps also retain their value and can be used for more than one baby -- I still have all of mine in a bag somewhere!

Kobo Aura eReader: When my daughter was a newborn, I spent a lot of time either watching Friends and Gilmore Girls, or reading while getting the whole breastfeeding thing to work for us. It was a lot of solo time, just me and baby. And escaping into those shows and books, what a way for me to keep my sanity during those long days on our own. Whether mama wants to catch up on an autobiography, her favourite parenting books or a new fiction novel, an eReader like the Kobo Aura helps her to keep her library close at hand. As an added gift, you could download a few books for mama before wrapping it up!

The Ollie Swaddle: Swaddling is an age old technique for calming babies, and it can improve their quality and duration of sleep as well. Newborns, of course, do not sleep through the night, but many require swaddling to feel comfortable enough to sleep for any length of time. I love this swaddle, because it's made from a special material that reduces the risk of overheating, it's easy to use, and there's an opening at the bottom for covert diaper-changing!

White Noise Machine: When I was pregnant, I heard over and over that you shouldn't try to be too quiet while baby sleeps or they'll wake up at every single tiny pin-drop of a noise. However, it seemed like no matter what the noise level was like outside the room, when my daughter was sleeping, if it was quiet IN the room, she'd never stay asleep. My solution: a white noise machine. Simple, portable and we actually still use ours to this day.

Travel Mug: A really nice one in a style she'll love. Why? Because mom's never get to drink their tea or coffee or hot cocoa while it's still warm, and a pretty travel mug (I love the ones from KeepCup!) will give them a fighting chance. Seriously.

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