If don’t visit our blog for its parenting content, then I can only apologise for the recent avalanche of baby-related posts! We’re all a bit caught up in the excitement of Rachel’s new baby. Last week, I made suggestions for the best presents to buy for newborn babies, and it ended up being such a long list that I decided to tackle one fundamental part of gift-buying etiquette separately – that is, when you’re visiting new mums and dads, don’t forget to treat them to a little something as well. After all, at that moment they’re the ones at the coal face of parenthood – their baby is mostly oblivious to anything outside its own digestive process.
Rachel was actually one of the only people who bought a gift for me when I had Oscar (she had lent us tonnes of stuff for the baby already). She turned up at my flat when I was in a state of growing anxiety with a pair of mugs labelled ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’ – which turned out to be the perfect excuse to make a soothing cup of tea. And everything seems more manageable after a cup of tea. I don’t think M&S sell my set any more; for a similar (if pricier) present, try this and this.
When Oscar was little, I (like most mums) tended to neglect myself as I struggled to satisfy his needs – my beauty regime was reduced to a daily shower, while my mealtimes became erratic to say the least. So encourage your friend to pamper herself a bit. Top of my new-mum gift-list would be: a posh bubble bath (this will help them to relax before getting some much-needed sleep); a beautifully scented hand cream (you are constantly washing your hands, washing clothes, and washing up in the first few months, so your hands tend to get very dry and need a bit of TLC); or something frivolous like a new lippie. Just steer clear of anything too specifically mum-centric that’s likely to remind them of the more depressing aspects of their postpartum body. In other words, let them buy their own stretch-mark minimiser or boob-firming lotion…
My friend’s brother subscribed her to a posh meal-delivery service for the first couple of months of motherhood – such a nice idea, if you can afford it and your friend has a big enough freezer. Imagine not having to think about grocery shopping during the first few weeks of maternity leave, let alone cook balanced meals! But you don’t have to be that extravagant when it comes to buying presents for the parents – in fact, you don’t really have to buy anything. Just turn up with a lasagne, a fish pie, or any other sort of homemade comfort food to let them know you care.
And that is probably the number-one rule about visiting new parents: never turn up without food. (And definitely don’t turn up with food just for yourself, as I’ve known friends to do…) Cake is fine – calories and comfort food are always welcome at that stage – but savoury stuff that can be eaten at dinner time is probably more appreciated. The absolute best thing I did while in my third trimester was to freeze portions of food to tide me over in the first few weeks, and I was terrified of my stash running out, so grateful to anyone who helped me to prolong it by bringing food.
Lastly, remember that any woman who’s carried a baby in almost total abstinence for 10 months deserves a celebratory G&T. Arrive with a miniature bottle of spirits, a posh mixer, ice and a slice, and either mix it there and then or stick it in her fridge for another time. Booze is also a great present for dads, who are rarely the centre of attention at this time (I guess that’s the flip side of coming out the other side with a fully-functioning pelvic floor…)
What were the best presents you received after having your baby? What do you think makes a great postpartum present?