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December 06, 2016

Katie's gift guide: Essential picks for babies and parents

Parenting Gift Guides
1katie_Gagnon_GiftGuide Ryan Gagnon/for PhillyVoice

Katie's baby is the best present she has ever received but many of the gifts given to her son have made her life as a new mother easier.

My husband and I joke that every day has seemed like Christmas since our son was born because he has received so many packages and presents from our generous family and friends. All of the gifts have been thoughtful and sweet and many have proven highly helpful to us as new parents. With the holiday season upon us, here are my recommendations for great gifts for baby and new or expecting parents.

Swaddling Blankets

We swaddle Killian for sleep every night. Any lightweight blanket can be used for this but the Miracle Blanket® is specifically designed for it. A baby needs to be wrapped just right: not too tight but snug enough that he won’t wiggle himself out of his burrito. The Miracle Blanket® makes achieving that perfect swaddle easier. I also really like aden + anais muslin blankets for swaddling. A bonus of aden + anais blankets is that they can be used in many other ways, like as a bottom sheet in a Pack n’ Play - which also makes a great gift!

Good Night Books

Reading is important for a baby’s development and provides special bonding for parent and child. I love reading books to Killian from my childhood like Pat The Bunny, Goodnight, Moon and Where The Wild Things Are but we have some new favorites in our son’s collection: the Good Night Books. We were given Good Night Montana (my husband’s home state) and Good Night Philadelphia. These books are available for every state and many U.S. cities. We are planning to add many more to our son’s library!

Travel Bag

The L.L. Bean Boat & Tote bags are longtime favorites of mine. I have used them for everything from beach bags to bridesmaids’ gifts to airplane carry-ons. I love these bags! So I was thrilled to receive an extra-large version with Killian’s name embroidered on it. We have taken a couple of weekend trips since our son’s birth and have learned that this bag is perfect for hauling everything we need for baby boy. There is a ton of room, interior compartments and a zipper top. Great for a family who loves to travel!

Snuggly Soft Baby Blankets

Blankets are some of my favorite baby presents to give and receive because they are used in so many ways: in the stroller or car, for tummy time or snuggling. You will have to wash them constantly so it is nice to have a good supply to rotate through. One of the best blankets we received is the Emerson Baby Blanket from Pottery Barn Kids. Another favorite is a personalized blanket by The Blanket Lady. If you know how to knit, like my Mom, create a handmade blanket that is as unique and special as the baby who will receive it. It will be a keepsake for years to come!

Pee Pee TeePee

If you have ever changed a baby boy’s diaper you know that a water fountain may occur at any moment. Our son has peed on us and himself enough times that we needed to find a solution for blocking the unexpected accidents. Luckily, we received some homemade Pee Pee TeePees from Ryan’s mother and aunt. If you can sew, here is an easy pattern to make this gift. If you can’t, I recommend purchasing through Etsy. Anyone with a boy in diapers will appreciate this!

For Mommy: Back Roller

My cousin Kristen, mother of two, really knows what a new Mama needs. After I mentioned that my back was hurting, she sent me her favorite remedy: the Body Back Company’s Wooden Back Roller . This roller is the best I have ever tried. Rolling on it for a few minutes before bed really reduces my pain. Being a mother is back breaking work and this is a great, therapeutic gift!

For Daddy: Bourbon and Beer

If you are buying a gift for a new father who enjoys a cocktail, like my husband, make it a nice bottle of bourbon from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. If the Dad you are shopping for is a beer drinker, consider enrolling him in a Craft Beer Club, the gift that keeps on giving. Being a father can be stressful. For many men, enjoying an adult beverage is a small reward for all their hard work.

For Parents: Time Together

Babysitting is one of the nicest things you can do for new parents. Whether it means watching the baby so they can have a date night or taking the baby early on a weekend morning so they can sleep in, anytime when parents can spend some time together is a real gift. This does not need to be accompanied by anything else, but if you want to enhance this offering for the holidays, pair it with tickets to a concert or a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant.

I’m still shopping! What present should my newborn receive under the tree? What is your favorite gift to buy for baby’s first holiday season? Share in the comments below or Tweet me at @ThePhillyVoice and @KathleenEGagnon.

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