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Baby Registry Part 4

Since doing my series of entries on the whole baby registry thing (if you missed it, see part 1, part 2, and part 3) I’ve been having a few conversation with friends and family, and realized I left out one aspect – the people on the other side of the (changing) table.  I started thinking about some of the favorite gifts I received that weren’t on my registry, and wanted to pass them on.

Let me say first off that I’m not a big fan in general of shopping outside of a gift registry; items on that list aren’t picked whimsically (or easily, in my family’s argumentative case), and the car seat and bottle scrubber are on there because they’re really needed.  Sexy and fun it ain’t, but trust me, new parents will wax ecstatic over a Diaper Genie.

Having said that, though, some of my favorite gifts were from people who didn’t shop from my registry.  The gifts were thoughtful and personal and were from folks who really knew me and knew what babies need.  I received a few crocheted blankets and I use them all: we’ve got them scattered throughout the house and baby girl’s little body will never be cold because of them.  I cherish those covers much more than any blanket I could have registered for.  She was also given a beautiful crocheted cap and jacket by her godmother, which I still occasionally try to stuff her into just because I love to see her in it.  Honestly, what’s the point of having a little girl if you can’t periodically dress her up like a doll?

If you really want to help the couple out and see the big-ticket items are all gone, put together a theme gift for the new parents from little items on their registry.  A changing table pad and cover paired with a diaper genie, for example, is great, or you can put together a “medical kit” – head to the Container Store or some such and pick up a plastic tackle-box.  Fill it with the baby thermometer, nasal aspirator, baby clippers, diaper rash ointment, infant Tylenol and Mylecon, and you’ll have the parents’ eternal gratitude.  If you see pretty much everything on the registry gone but want to stay on the practical side of things, buy refills for gear they’re getting such as the Diaper Genie liners, wipes, giant refills of hand disinfectant, and so on.  Think practical things that they’ll always need and run out of sooner than they expect!

Buying someone an item you particularly love yourself as a parent can be tricky, but may be worthwhile if you know the person well and are confident in the product you want to give.  We didn’t register for any baby shoes or clothes, but my girlfriend Sandra gave us a pair of Robeez shoes, for which I am very grateful.  Robeez are awesome soft-soled baby shoes that are ideal for infants and toddlers and recommended by pediatricians.  At around $25 a pop, though, they may seem too pricey when compared to how many diapers that’ll get you.  Sandra knew and loved these shoes and wanted to pass them on to us, and we’re very happy she did.  My girlfriend Abby gave us a “greatest hits” collection of toys her son had road-tested and loved.  We didn’t register for toys and several items she gave us couldn’t be used until Maddie was maybe four months old, but it’s a great luxury now to be able to pull out a brand-new toy for her to discover and play with.  Another friend who loves to read gave us a series of books for Madeleine to grow into: one is a cloth book she could chew on almost right away, a second is a puzzle book for toddlers, and the third is a beautiful version of “The Velveteen Rabbit”.

So it is possible to go “off list” and still help the parents out.  Be careful if you do, though, that you are not forcing your own values or parenting decisions on the new family.  Steer clear of favorite videos (even Baby Einstein!) unless you’re absolutely sure that the parents will be putting their baby in front of a television.  Please don’t buy a complete cloth diaper set for your friend in an effort to force her to save the environment unless she’s told you that’s what she wants.  And giving a friend who’s said she’s going to try to breastfeed a complete set of bottles and formula mixers and so forth because you’re certain she won’t stick it out is not helpful.

And finally, please don’t feel hurt if you visit the new parents and don’t see your blanket/baby outfit/new toy in prominent use.  I can say from personal experience that we’ve used or plan to use everything we’ve been given (partly because all the gifts we’ve received have been awesome!), but we do try to space them out.  We select a few toys to keep in heavy rotation for a while and store the rest for when the boredom factor sets in.

Have a great time shopping!  On behalf of all first-time parents, I thank you for your desire to help out a new family.  We would not have been able to outfit our nursery without the assistance of our family and friends, so know that parents everywhere appreciate you.  We just may be too sleep-deprived to mention it.


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