If you're a mom, you probably have a list of things you think would be useful for your mom-to-be, but if you're not a parent, sometimes shopping for a baby shower can be difficult.  Since we are planning to welcome a new niece or nephew into our family, I've been thinking a lot about how the things I buy for baby showers has changed since I've become a mom.  Here's how to pick out the perfect gift (or gifts) for your new mommy friend.

1.  Check the registry.  A first time mom rarely knows as much about what she needs as she thinks she does, and her baby registry makes it quite obvious.  Let's face it.  If your friend wasn't a jogger before, a jogging stroller isn't going to magically turn her into a runner.  And that baby fedora may be darling, but she's kidding herself if she thinks she's going to keep that on her baby boy's head.  But a baby registry is a big help for shoppers because it lets you know what NOT to buy.  It helps keep expecting parents from ending up with two high-chairs or three baby baths.  And it saves your friend the emberrasment of having to decide which ones to return.

2.  Buy diapers.  Lots and lots of diapers.  I remember at my baby showerer telling everyone, "Well, we should be set with diapers for awhile!"  One of the ladies laughed and told me, "No, you're set for about a month."  She was right.  We quickly went through the diapers from the shower and it wasn't long before we were researching where we could buy diapers in bulk.  Even if your mom friend is planning to use cloth diapers, buy her a cover or some extra inserts.  Buy a small package of disposable diapers and put together a travel kit.  Or may get some swim diapers or baby wipes.  Bottom line--everyone should bring diapers of some form of diapering gear to every baby shower.  They may not be the 'fun' present to open, but in a few months, at 3 in the morning when your friend doesn't have to drive to the store to buy a new package of diapers, she will be thanking you (or at least she would if she was awake enough to!).

3.  Avoid items that expire.  That means formula, baby food, medications, etc.  If you really want to provide for these specific needs, consider giving a gift card instead. 

4.  Consider the seasons.  If the baby is going to be born in May, she doesn't need a newborn winter coat.  She probably doesn't need shorts and a tank-top in a 6-9 month size either.  However, after saying that, all babies grow at different rates.  My daughter has always been a size or two behind, so if you find something really cute in the wrong season, it might still be okay.

5.  Remember that babies grow.  Newborn outfits are the cutest, but also the least practical.  My daughter only stayed in the newborn size for about 2 weeks.  When you're shopping for diapers or outfits, consider buying a larger size.  One person gave us a 2T outfit before my daughter was even born.  I remember looking at it and thinking, "She'll never fit into this!"  Now I wonder how she could have ever been so small!

6.  After you've bought the diapers and/or wipes, buy a splurge.  Something that a mom probably wouldn't buy for herself or for the baby.  My personal favorite are baby shoes.  They serve no purpose other than to be cute, but they do their job so well!  My mom's go-to is a crinkle book or toy.  One person gave me a bottle of lotion to use on myself.  I loved that she gave me something to remind me that I'm a woman--not just a mom.

6.  Consider offering services instead of gifts.  This is a great idea if you are low a little low on cash.  Moms need a little extra help after baby comes, but they are often afraid to ask.  Cook a meal or wash the dishes.  One of my cousins had just earned her babysitting badge so she offered to come and babysit so I could sleep.   A group of my husband's friends came and mowed our yard and weed-eated the fence line because my husband needed the rest.  Teenagers could offer to come serve as a "Mother's Helper" so that they're not left alone with the baby, but mom can get some things done.  And sometimes maternity leave can be lonely, so the extra company is usually welcome.

Regardless of what you actually buy for the baby shower, let your mom know that you're are there to support her.  That means more to a mom than all the diapers in the world!


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