This guide to genuinely helpful presents for new parents contains affiliate links.
Prior to having my own baby, I was, with retrospect, terrible when it came to buying baby-related gifts. Far from buying genuinely helpful presents for new parents, I viewed the occasion as just an opportunity to indulge my own penchant for tiny clothes and soft toys.
Browsing the aisles for pastel-hued baby grows and cotton mittens, I gave very little thought to the welfare of those new mums and dads. Why should I? I was yet to experience those early days; yet to find myself scrambling through the trenches of newborn life with my pelvic floor hanging by a thread and afterbirth flowing from me like the River Nile.
Who was I to think that it wasn’t the baby that needed a gift, but the parents? Those war-weary, exhausted parents, who could no longer remember each other’s names and kept referring to their baby as – ‘thingymajig’.
Having now graduated from that trying time, I have a few thoughts on what sort of gifts I’d have gratefully received during those early days. Spoiler alert: as lovely as they are, it isn’t a pair of cashmere booties.
Instead, these are gifts that are focused on making life that little bit easier for new parents; concerning the holy trinity of food, rest and help. As uninspiring as this might sound, these sorts of presents would have really made all difference during those hazy newborn days.
Genuinely Helpful Presents For New Parents
One myth I was sold, before having my own baby, was the promise that from the moment your little one arrives, people begin to queue up at your front door. In their hands? Wholesome, homemade dishes of chicken soup, slow-cooked chilli and freshly baked cookies.
Travelling home with my baby after our week long stay in hospital, I waited in anticipation for this feast – imagining a Three Kings sort of scenario taking place on my front porch.
As it was, I’m not sure anyone cooked for us. There were no foil-covered dishes of lasagna or lovingly baked cakes – nothing. If I’m honest, this might have been because I spent my entire lockdown pregnancy batch cooking, but still, the dream was shattered.
You see, it’s not just finding the time to cook something half decent that’s the problem – it’s remembering to eat. Somehow, entire days can pass and not so much as a drop of water has passed your mouth.
To solve this problem, there are now a number of fantastic companies who design and make meal boxes aimed solely at new parents. Nutritionally balanced, freezable and most importantly – fast and easy to cook – this sort of gift would, truly, be a genuinely helpful present for new parents.
By far one of the best ‘new parent’ meal boxes available is the New Parent meal bundle, from By Ruby. In fact, we’d heard such good things about these veritable feast of meals, that we purchased it for ourselves. I can confirm that each meal was genuinely delicious.
At £77.81 for nine meals (for both parents) it’s definitely on the more expensive side – but one that I promise would very gratefully received.
For anyone looking for alternatives, Potage also offer a new parent meal bundle, with six meals costing £64.80, while Chef On Board offer a first fortnight family food box, for £133.50. Lastly, and if you don’t want to send a pre-made food box, a gift card from Cook would also make a useful gift for new parents.
2. Sweet Treats
While it’s important to ensure that new parents have access to healthy and nutritionally balanced meals, the fact remains that when you enter the upper echelons of tiredness, there is only one thing that you crave: sugar.
Sugar was perhaps my main food source for the first four months of my baby’s life. It became my five-a-day; my main food group. Of course, I’m not saying this is the healthy option – but it was the option that I craved.
During those early days of parenthood, I was showered with sweet treats and ended up regularly sending them to my fellow new parent friends, to celebrate various milestones, e.g. ‘you survived Wednesday afternoon’.
By far, my most favourite delivery came courtesy of Blondies Kitchen. These cookie bites fuelled me for several weeks and I’m happy to admit that I became mildly addicted to them. I also sampled the Cinnamon Huns box (spectacular) and various cookie sharing boxes. I can confirm that they are all delicious.
Although perhaps not a genuinely helpful present for new parents in a practical sense, receiving sweet treats like this provides such a little lift. Great to wolf down with a cup of tea when the baby sleeps, something as small as a humble cookie can truly be the difference between a good and bad day.
Another real treat we received was an afternoon tea box, courtesy of Cutter & Squidge. I was already familiar with this brand, after Claire and I celebrated our (lockdown) baby showers with two of their fabulous Hello Kitty afternoon tea boxes. I was therefore very excited to receive one of their own afternoon tea boxes, after our baby arrived.
I remember very clearly eating it as he slept, feeling as though the fog had lifted for those thirty, precious minutes. The price of their ‘at home’ afternoon tea box is a very reasonable £29.90.
3. A National Trust Membership
Why would a National Trust membership be a genuinely helpful and useful present for new parents, I hear you ask?
Because, ladies and gentleman – the walking. The endless, monotonous walking.
Now, perhaps it was just my baby, but in those early days, he only really slept when strapped to us and on the move. Indeed, for this sensitive being, being permanently attached to us via our fantastic Baby Bjorn wasn’t enough. No, he needed movement – the continuous, undulating motion of walking.
In his defence, as a lockdown baby, the only thing I spent those long nine months of pregnancy doing was walking. It’s therefore perhaps inevitable that it was this movement that he’d end up associating with sleep and comfort. However, it did still mean that we had to put a lot of mileage in during those early days – to such an extent that I even damaged my achilles from all the pavement pounding.
Very quickly, our local routes grew uninspiring. There are only so many empty, barren fields a new parent can stomach and by early spring, we were more than ready to explore somewhere new.
If the baby was sleeping – and we were walking – we decided we might as well use it to our advantage and make a day trip of it (additionally, if a baby starts crying out in the sticks, it’s a lot less stressful than when in a restaurant, for example).
As such, we decided to invest in a National Trust Membership, opting for the family option. As under 5s go free, the year’s membership cost us £126 a year (or £10.50 a month).
Just being able to visit our local sites was such a breath of fresh air (both physically and metaphorically) and made what had become quite a tedious part of our day, an exciting and enjoyable one.
For any new parents you know who wile away the hours trudging around their local housing estate, I’d highly recommend this sort of membership as a fantastic gift.
4. Cleaning Services & Laundry Vouchers
Yes, this is a dull present and yes, it does lack the rose-tinted magic that comes with other newborn gifts. However, it will be a present that appears heaven-sent for new parents.
For obvious reasons, having a newborn baby has the correlating effect of decimating your home. It’s not just that you can’t keep on top of your usual housework, it’s the new layer of mess that quickly enters your life. Muslin cloths, nappies, stain-riddled onesies and breast pads suddenly litter the floor and bottles start to stack up next to the steriliser.
It can, at times, feel unmanageable – not least because you’re too scared to turn the hoover on in case it (whispers), wakes the baby.
So, why not invest in a genuinely useful and helpful present for those new parents in your life and get them a cleaning voucher. I’ve done a little research and they are indeed available – in particular from Molly Maid (starting at £125) and the cheaper Mums Helping Hand (starting at £30).
Yes, it seems so very uninspiring, but I promise I would have probably cried tears of happiness had I received this kind of present.
5. A Dinner Date To Look Forward To
Having a baby feels like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole. No sooner does the baby exit your body than suddenly, life appears very different. Of course, it all looks the same – yet something has shifted, changed, morphed.
As those purveyors of fake handbags declare: ‘same, same, but different’.
One thing that would have been an excellent present during those early days, would have been something that me and my partner could have looked forward to later down the line – a line in the sand to remind us that life will, once again, find its equilibrium.
Vouchers for a restaurant, cinema tickets or even a night away, all would have been a great pick-me-up.
6. A Nappy Subscription
I can hear you sighs – first a cleaning voucher and now a nappy subscription? Must I take all the joy out of buying genuinely helpful and useful presents for new parents?
However, hear me out. While getting a lovely, tiny outfit for your new baby is wonderful – they may wear it maybe just once or twice. Nappies, however? Well nappies they wear like they’re going out of fashion. Day in, day out – hour after hour, no parent (or baby) can do without them.
Alongside really getting some ROI for your gift, a nappy subscription is a lifesaver for those parents (like me), who would regularly realise at 3am that they were entirely out of the things. By buying your new parent friends a nappy subscription, you’re relieving a little weight from their shoulders – ticking another thing off their endless ‘to do lists’.
Mum&You offer a number of fantastic nappy subscription services – with their most popular being the eco-nappies and wipes bundle. With a choice to deliver between every 3-6 weeks, each bundle comes with four packs of premium performance nappies and six packs of plastic free baby wipes – costing £40.18 per box.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little more straight forward, why not get your new parents a ‘subscribe and save’ subscription for nappies, via Amazon (e.g. 144 nappies per month for £18.33 a month).
7. Toy Subscription Service
Now, this would have easily been one of my favourite presents, had I received it when Henry arrived.
With the arrival of a baby comes yet another arrival – mountains of toys. Now, some of these toys are genuinely lovely – wooden, wholesome and distinctly Scandinavian. However, the majority are not. They are plastic, colourful and play haunting tunes that live rent free in your head for months.
Not only do these toys take up every corner of your house, but thanks to babies’ rapid development, they have a shelf life of just a few weeks. It’s therefore an expensive habit and one that is far from environmentally friendly.
To help new parents both save money, space and the environment, why not therefore get them a toy subscription service – specifically a Whirli subscription.
There are a number of subscription plans to choose from (and with these, price points), but in short: a subscription buys you Whirli tokens, which in turn can be used to rent toys. There are over 1,000 toys to choose from, including the latest trends and must-haves, and you can keep each toy for an unlimited time.
Once your baby begins to tire of them, you simply return them and swap them for something else, or, alternatively, buy them at a discounted price.
There are a number of different plans available, beginning at £9.99 a month (and available to cancel at any time). Alternatively, you can buy a six month or year long subscription, which works out cheaper in the long run (e.g. a yearly subscription is 20% cheaper than a monthly subscription).
We currently have the ‘Toy Box’ plan, which costs us £14.99 a month. For this, we are able to get plenty of toys, to the extent that we often accrue credits and are therefore able to splash out on something really fancy now and again.
As such, a Whirli subscription is perhaps my favourite helpful and useful present for new parents.
8. A Smart Mug
As soon as you fall pregnant, people will cheerfully tell you one of two things: ‘you’ll never sleep again’ and, perhaps more distressingly, ‘you’ll never enjoy a hot cup of tea (and/or coffee) again’.
Whilst a distinctly irritating comment, it’s also depressingly true. Over the past eight months, I’ve found myself sinking to the depths of microwaving my cup of tea, after getting sidetracked by the baby.
While it might initially seem a bit of a gimmicky present, a ‘smart’ mug will eventually become one of those ‘how did I live without this?’ products. With many offering self-heating, self-stirring and anti-spill functions, they will ensure that despite deciding to become a parent, you can also still enjoy a hot beverage.
There are quite a few of these ‘smart’ mugs on the market, but perhaps the best rated is the Ember Smart Mug. There are a few different Ember models, with the most expensive (£129.95) offering a longer lasting battery and stainless steel finish. The ‘cheaper version’ comes in at £99.99
The mug comes complete with a handy app to control it remotely, along with a charging coaster and adapter. Promising to keep your drink hot for over 90 minutes, you can choose how hot you’d like your drink to be. Additionally, there is also a travel mug version available for when you’re on the go.
If the thought of buying a £100 mug smarts somewhat, then a cheaper option would be to buy a static mug warmer for your new, caffeine-deprived parents (starting at £23.99).
9. A Unisex & Practical Baby/Nappy Bag
A genuinely useful and helpful present for new parents would definitely be a unisex, practical and durable baby or nappy bag.
Or, to be more specific, a bag that a baby’s father would also be willing to wear.
When we were shopping for a bag to schlep our baby’s paraphernalia about in, we found that most were very firmly aimed at women – either emblazoned with the word ‘Mama’ or featuring a flash of leopard skin. There was very little that was understated and practical, that we would perhaps both use.
One brand that does cater to this is the fantastic Micralite – and their ‘Daypak‘ bag (£65.00). Alongside its discreet and stylish design, this clever bag also offers a wet clothes compartment (essential) and space for a laptop – for life’s multitaskers.
This bag would be so handy for when I’m sat in cafes, juggling both Henry and blogging.
10. Good Earplugs
Now, first thing’s first: I promise that if you present new parents with a shiny new pair of earplugs, you aren’t encouraging them to be neglectful.
Quite the contrary.
For a lot of us, what keeps us awake at night is not our babies crying, but the constant grunting, sighing and sniffling noises that emanate from their little bodies. Lying there on edge, you flinch and twitch at every single one of these sounds – quivering like Pavlov’s Dogs, ready to spring into action.
When I was telling our Health Visitor about this unique form of insomnia, she told me bluntly to invest in a pair of good earplugs. Of course, you don’t want these to be entirely noise cancelling, but you do want them to be effective in taking the ‘edge’ off those constant murmurings.
In the end, I invested in a pair of the award-winning QuietOn earplug (currently £83.98). Designed to be small enough to sleep in and with 20 hours battery life, these little buds were a real game changer when it came to my quality of sleep. On those odd nights when I was able to sneak off to the spare room, it meant I could sleep soundly without being disturbed.
11. Beautiful Bedding
Once I had my baby, I never looked at my bed in the same way again.
Overnight, it morphed from an inanimate object into an almost mythical-like being. I dreamt of it, I longed for it and at times, I shed tears for it. There was nothing I wanted more than to just be in that bed, wrapped up in a cocoon of restful sleep and relaxation.
Of course, that rarely happened. Time in bed was less a restful experience and more an endurance test; one that would see me lulled to sleep, before being woken up again five minutes later by a chorus of screams.
To make this challenging experience distinctly more positive, a wonderful present for new parents would therefore be something to make their bed a veritable haven. Indeed, now that their time in there is less a restful long-haul holiday and more fleeting mini break, why not make this time extra luxurious?
One brand that excels at making the humble bed a place of luxury and calm is Bedfolk. With a mission to help people wind down, their bedding is incredibly soft and comfortable: think soft crumpled linen, billowing duvets and hot mugs of steaming tea.
Fittingly, they have a range of bedding aimed at the ‘short but sweet’ night – a tagline that I think represents my recent nocturnal activities quite well. With four styles of bedding available (Luxe, Relaxed, Classic Cotton and Linen), all these ranges are eko-Tex certified and free of harmful chemicals and synthetics (which is great to know when the little one joins you in the bed).
Most recently, Bedfolk have also branched out into the bathroom – creating not only super soft towels, but lovely gowns as well (£99). The gown itself would make a wonderful gift – particularly as I think I spent the first four weeks of Henry’s life wearing one. Made from 100% Turkish cotton and with a muslin finish, I think I’d have felt more sophisticated than bedraggled, had I had one of these during those early newborn days.
12. And finally? Booze.
Amongst all the piles of soft, cuddly toys, flowers and delicately knitted clothes, I found myself missing just one thing – a stiff drink.
You see, the newborn bubble is lovely – it’s very wholesome, very innocent and very naive. But, it’s also intensely demanding; a time that screams: ‘pass me the booze’.
For the first few months of my baby’s life, I enjoyed a small glass of wine most nights. Not only did it help lessen the vague trauma of having a tiny person scream at you all day long, it also felt a distinctly adult thing to do; something far-removed from nappies and Sudocrem.
Had someone popped round with a bottle – nay vat – of wine, I’d have been absolutely delighted.
If you’re looking to really push the boat out, why not therefore get your new parents an alcohol-related subscription box? Of course, I’m not advocating anything too extreme, but merely a fun tipple to look forward to.
I recently discovered the fantastic ‘Kocktail’ – an award-winning cocktail subscription box that delivers beautiful, seasonal cocktails to your door (£29 per month). Beautifully packaged and diminutive in size, it would be a brilliant, albeit alternative, helpful present for new parents.