When it comes to gifts for new parents, it's easy to think of adorable onesies, tiny milk bottles, animal-themed burp cloths and any number of baby-related objects. However, between baby shower gifts and family hand-me-downs, many kids have enough children's books and swaddlers to last them a lifetime -- or at least a childhood. So rather than adding to the pile, focus on the parents. The best gifts they receive this holiday season will reduce stress or provide a special treat.
According to Joanna Goddard of the immensely popular blog A Cup of Jo, the No. 1 gift idea for a new mom is a foot massage. "If she's sore from carrying around that wriggly baby, a reflexology appointment will feel SO GOOD." Booking an appointment at a nearby foot massage parlor could be a welcome escape. About 75 percent of pregnant women experience swelling, says Mary L. Rosser, director of integrated women's health for the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center. And that swelling can stay present for some time after birth, especially if the new baby needs to be walked around to settle down. If it's too difficult to leave a little one for that long, apps like Soothe and Zeel offer on-demand at-home massage services. Both apps have a variety of massage types, from Swedish and deep tissue to prenatal and couples massages.
Though you can't magically give new moms and dads a few hours of extra sleep, you can assist them in getting their little one to fall asleep with a white noise machine. These machines are meant to drown out upsetting sounds like ringing phones, barking dogs, traffic and clanking dishes. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and Dr. Harvey Karp, the volume in a womb is incredibly loud. The noise level is somewhere between a baby's cry and a lawn mower. To ease babies into this much-quieter world, white noise machines also can play lullabies and nature sounds. The machines can also block out baby gurgles and squeaky sleep noises, which will soothe nervous parents.
The world of food delivery services is exploding these days. Buying a week's worth of groceries or meal prep will give dads and moms a break from the store while ensuring they are feeding themselves as well as they're feeding their child. If the gift recipients aren't fans of cooking, a gift card to Postmates or Grubhub will allow them to choose the food they'd like delivered from restaurants. If they like experimenting in the kitchen but are low on time, Blue Apron, Home Chef, Green Chef, Purple Carrot, Hello Fresh and more will deliver boxed meals needing minimal prep with most ingredients included.
"Since new parents are pretty homebound (naps! feedings! more naps!), it feels good to enjoy a moment of grown-up culture during the day," says Goddard. Consider gifting a smart magazine or newspaper subscription to new parents. They can pick up and put down what they're reading as little emergencies crop up, and breastfeeding moms can read one-handed while avoiding holding up a tablet or phone screen in front of delicate baby eyes.
Speaking of electronics, Tiffany Doerr Guerzon, a mother and a contributor to City Parent, recommends a gift of rechargeable batteries and a battery charging station. "This will give parents one less thing to run to the store for," she says. Between baby monitors, noise machines, baby swings, bottle warmers and other gadgets, parents use up a lot of batteries for their kids. This gift will create more ease and efficiency, which are often sparse for new parents.
When in comes to buying holiday gifts for new moms and dads, focus on the people behind the "parent" label and pay attention to what they're craving most.