Whether your friend has just announced she is pregnant, or your sibling has adopted, it can be tricky to find the perfect gift for a new mum. So who better to offer insight into which presents will be most appreciated, than those who have recently welcomed a child of their own? We asked 23 mothers to tell us about the best gifts they’ve received and the items they would recommend buying for other new parents. From the best gift hampers and most comfortable maternity lingerie, to the cosiest baby blankets and effective sleep aids, read on to discover their suggestions.
Best gifts for mums
Tamara Bugembe’s son was born in September 2019. “By the time Christmas came round all I wanted was a big dish of lasagne,” says the paediatrician from St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Of all the gifts mentioned by the mums we spoke to, readymade meals were the thing that came up most often. “Food is a fab gift,” says Vicki Fletcher, owner of Little City UK and mum-of-two, from North Essex. “My friend sent me a hamper of frozen ready meals for two, which were so handy.”
Sam Brown was also given a week’s worth of dinners when her daughter was born just before Christmas and she says the package from Cook was “amazing.” “We definitely wouldn’t have eaten proper food without them,” adds the copywriter and mum-of-one from Tottenham, London. “They do a new parents discount for the first six months too.”
Sindy Bevan found her extra long phone charger was indispensable in the early days with her baby. “When you’re breastfeeding or feeding, you’re pretty much stuck. I was constantly on my phone just scrolling, reading up on baby things, buying baby things — so it was super handy to always be charged,” explains the PPC manager and mum-of-one, from Manchester. This charger is ten-feet long and comes highly recommended by Strategist contributor Alison Freer.
Hot drinks also featured prominently on many of the mums’ dream gift lists. “As a massive coffee drinker I really missed it during pregnancy and when I was breastfeeding, I’d still have one a day but I substituted with Hottea Mama, a range of pregnancy teas that will see you through morning sickness, birth and beyond,” says Gina Knight, mum-of-two and founder of Gina Knight Wig Design, from London. “The Morning Rescue tea was great for me when I had horrible morning sickness with my second pregnancy.”
Amy-Naomi Donaldson, founder of Buggy Bootcamp UK and mum-of-one, from Hackney, east London, recommends buying a huge mug that can be kept topped up. Even better, buy a mug that keeps drinks warm, as not being able to finish a drink while it’s hot is a daily annoyance for new mums. Emma Newall, founder of Olivia James accessories and mum-of-two, from Sheffield, recommends this coffee mug that is spill proof and keeps your drink warm for four hours. “This was a must-have for me,” she says.
Tinuke Bernard, blogger and mum-of-two, from Hertfordshire, has found another solution for keeping drinks hot in the winter and cool in the summer, one which she says is ideal for using while holding a newborn. “On the off chance you get an opportunity to sit down, the baby is probably lying across you too, in which case you don’t want to risk drinking a hot drink over their heads, ” she explains. “Having a flask with a push top means you can drink without removing the lid.” Meanwhile, Katie Beardsley, mum-of-two and owner of personalised photo album company And Other Memories, from Emsworth, Hampshire says, “I was given a thermos flask by someone who said it was so lovely to have tea by the bed ready for those long night feeds. I didn’t use it for that, but did find it invaluable for keeping water warm for middle of the night nappy changes. It saved me from finding water or wipes when half asleep, and it’s much nicer to have warm cotton wool than cold for bub, so there’s less screaming!”
“The thing that saved me was a kneeling mat for the bathroom floor. Your knees take some hammering bathing a baby,” says Laura Simpson, a social ad strategist at Chameleon Social and mum-of-two, from Nottingham. Simpson said she bought it for some friends with young kids one Christmas and at first they were confused, but “then in the new year they were gushing about how it was the best gift they received.”
“I found that with night-time feeds and long newborn naps (make the most of those!) I was reading a lot,” says Liz Bleakley, mum to a 14-month-old and a PR and communications director, from Manchester. “My husband noticed that I was racing through books and started to quiz me on my favourite reading materials. Little did I know it was for my Christmas present. The Beautiful Book Company do amazing gift hampers and it is honestly one of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. You can personalise your book selection to suit the recipient, or if you’re not sure, they do lovely baby book hampers instead. They come beautifully packaged with bookmarks and stickers, too — it’s an avid reader’s dream.”
The owner of shopping site NotAFictionalMum, who is the mother of one son who “just happens to be adopted” (who prefers to go by NFM to protect her adoptive child’s identity) says she really likes this easy-to-use concealer. She pared back on makeup when she became a mum, but still liked to keep this in her bag ready to “whack” under her eyes when she wanted a refresh. “It really is amazing,” she adds.
Tyler would also recommend buying a diary as she found that her “brain turned to total mush in those early days, weeks and months” with “so much to try to remember from social worker visits, meetings at school and therapy”. “I used my diary to help plan my whole life but also to write little positives that had happened each day,” she adds.
Mums-to-be may appreciate this giant pillow as it is “ideal for easing backache” and can help them “find a comfortable way to sleep as their bump grows”, according to Shahlaa Tahira, from London. “My sister-in-law bought it for me and it was a game changer in comfort,” adds the founder of the Badass Mums podcast, who is five-months pregnant with her second child. “Also once baby is born it makes it easier to breastfeed and lie down if you’re tired because it supports your arm and stops the ache.”
“I was given this bra when I was pregnant and I’m still using it almost a year on,” says Donaldson. “It is so comfortable.” Available in sizes small to large, and made from soft fabric with four-way stretch, this bra is designed to adapt as a mum’s body changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
“Hot Milk bras cheered me up a treat when I had my first baby,” says Helen English, a psychotherapist and mum-of-two from South London. “The bras are lovely — non-frumpy and comfy. They washed and lasted well too.” Available in sizes 30-38 band and C-G cups, English adds that they are also “good for both maternity and when nursing.”
Another present that really stood out for English was a pair of “beautiful comfy PJ bottoms that a friend sent”. “I felt cared for every time I wore them round the house,” she explains. English particularly rates Fat Face pyjamas as they are “very cosy and hard-wearing for playing on your knees with a baby.”
Pyjamas were also recommended by Emma Whiley, a mum from London who will soon be welcoming her second child. She has a much-loved set made by an old colleague who set up their own pyjama brand. “They are button-through, which is super helpful for nightime (or anytime) feeds,” Whiley says. Plus they are made from bamboo, which makes them soft, moisture wicking and temperature regulating, which Whiley says is useful for those suffering from postpartum night sweats.
Juliet Mayne, a voiceover artist and mum to an 18-month-old, from Southampton, says this poetry book is “absolutely brilliant.” “It’s about all the stuff nobody tells you about being a mum,” she explains.
Treating a new mum to something she missed out on during pregnancy will go down a treat, according to Nana-Adwoa Mbeutcha, mum-of-four and head of production at Dope Black Mums. “My brother bought me a wine tasting session,” she explains. “The wine man came to my home with all the bits and I could invite six friends.” Most in-person wine-tasting experiences have been paused due to coronavirus restrictions, but Club Vino will deliver six or 12 bottles, tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, glass markers, and a video to guide you through the evening.
“As much as I loved all the fresh flowers I was given, good quality fake ones would have been better, as they last much longer and it saves me from having to remember to bin and clean them all out,” says Bevan. “I always like to support your local florists — ask if they have an artificial or dried range. Otherwise, John Lewis and Homesense have nice ones.”
Gift boxes filled with bathing treats, chocolate, and teas for new mums have really taken off in recent years. Nina Malone, mum-of-two and founder of Dope Black Mums, from London, especially likes this one, which has been designed to fit through the letterbox, so there’s no risk of the delivery waking a sleeping baby.
Best gifts for babies
“Nappies are often overlooked as a gift, but they’re brilliant,” says Taz Johnston, director of eco-friendly lifestyle brand XOandQuin and mum-of-three. Johnston always buys new parents a pack of size 2 nappies, “because you can always put a baby in a nappy that’s too big and who knows when you’ll run out.” “I spent ages researching environmentally conscious brands and I particularly like Kit & Kin (which is UK-based) and Naty. Both are biodegradable and as eco-friendly as disposable nappies can be,” she adds.
“I put this cute little play gym on my Amazon wish list and one of my friends bought it for my daughter who has got so much use out of it,” says Tinuke Awe mum-of-two, blogger and co-founder of the #fivexmore campaign, from South East London. “She loves reaching for the animals and it’s been really lovely seeing her trying to bat the toys.”
“I wish I had these when my daughter was born as we did not have any representative milestone cards,” says Alexa Virdi, a Ph.D. student, co-founder of family-friendly card game Super Sapiens and mum-of-one, from Oxford. These cards can be placed next to your baby when photographing them to mark every milestone during their first year, from their first tooth to their first holiday.
This cosy blanket with a hood and legs is great for keeping babies warm in their buggy. Newell’s mother bought her one with the elephant design as a gift and Newell liked it so much that when her baby outgrew it she bought a larger one in the star print. “I’d like an adult size one”, she adds. A baby blanket was also one of the best gifts, mum-of-three Aliy Brown has received. “Our youngest (who was 11-months at placement) was given a pushchair blanket, which was used daily and has become a favourite object that is still carried around now and has become a security item,” explains the FASD project manager at FASD Hub, Scotland.
Awe got this set for her daughter who was born during the first coronavirus lockdown. This collection of toys includes maracas, scarves, bubble liquid, feathers, a foil blanket, light wand and a wooden rainbow ribbon ring, which can be used to recreate a baby sensory class at home.
“We got given an ‘Ollie Owl’ before our baby arrived. It allows you to choose between a heartbeat sound and white noise and helps baby get back to sleep by recreating noises heard in the womb,” says Bleakley. “It must be a primal thing because it helped me get my head down, too. We travelled a fair bit whilst the baby was small — my husband is from Ireland so Christmas involved ferry crossings — and trust me, ‘Ollie’ came with us everywhere.”
“It’s never too early to build baby’s library, I started reading to both of my children in the womb, so baby can hear my voice and to aid in bonding,” says Knight. “These books are a great way to introduce routine for baby, I’d read about one little leader each evening and now my eldest, who is 8, reads them to my 2-year-old.”
“This lasted my daughter from newborn until one, as she would grab her toys and bring them to the mat to play,” says Tahira. “It’s a safe place to leave your newborn on the floor as they’re entertained by the colours, textures and 3-D bits.” She adds that parents will appreciate the fact the mat is portable and can be folded away.
“When you adopt there’s a transition period from when they leave their foster home to come to their forever home,” explains NFM. During that time you’re advised to do things to help your child settle in, like put their old bedding on to their new bed. “I found this lady’s Instagram page and I thought these bears would be perfect for that period,” she says. “My son has a beautiful bear made from clothes that he was wearing in the first ever video I saw of him and the sleepsuit that he wore on his first Christmas day with us. It’s literally the best thing I’ve ever had.” NFM was gifted her original bear by the brand, but liked it so much she has ordered another one for a friend.
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