When there is a new baby, everyone loves to buy adorable clothes. But what often happens is that the mother ends up with 50 summer dresses in a 3-6 month size for a baby born in January who will have outgrown them by the time summer hits. After three girls, I still have presents I received for our oldest daughter that were so beautiful, yet so impractical, they never made it out of the closet! So, if you really want to be helpful and buy a gift that is useful and will be used, here are some tips:

  • Buy a huge pack of size 1 diapers and jumbo wipes. These will definitely get used, cost as much as an outfit, and are needed! (Avoid newborn diapers as they are quickly outgrown and almost all newborns can start in size 1 for 5-9 lbs. unless it is a preemie.)

  • In addition to diapers, mothers always need burping cloths or onesies. One piece stretchies are also great, since this is mainly what a baby wears for the first few months. Buy both thinner and heavier ones so that the baby can be layered. And if you really want to be practical, buy neutral colors such as yellow and green so they can be used for a future baby as well.

  • If you can’t resist cute baby clothes, buy a larger size so that the baby will have something to wear in 6 months or a year. Always buy a size larger than the age of the baby, and think about the seasons to make sure the clothing will be weather appropriate.

  • Gift certificates at a baby store are always a great gift since then you know the mother will buy what she needs or wants.

  • Sometimes, better even than a gift for the baby is a gift for the older brother or sister. The baby couldn’t care less about a present, the older child or children are quite aware though, and often jealous. A great game not only helps the child, but keeps him or her busy which helps the mother.

  • And speaking of the mother, the best gifts are the ones that really help her! Buy her some bath salts or a foot massage or something for her to relax and enjoy!

  • Cook a meal for the family or order them a pizza so that dinner doesn’t need to be a major worry. In many communities meals are arranged for the family for a week after birth. If this is the case, wait until the second or third week. By then she won’t have as much help and will definitely appreciate it!

  • Hire a babysitter for the older kids or even someone to help a few hours with the newborn so that mommy can sleep. Make sure the sitter is infant qualified if helping with the baby and someone reliable that the kids feel comfortable with.

  • Or if you are crafty, ask her husband for some copies of pictures of the baby or take some yourself if you will be there. Then create an album or frame the pictures so that they are ready to be hung. Something like this is invaluable for a busy mom, who may never get around to doing it herself (especially if it is not her first!)