Emma Macdonald, here. I’m one of the co-founders and co-parents behind TBCo. with Fergus, and we have three little ones, Aila (age 3.5) and the twins Amabel and Mara (age 1.5). You can read more about our story here. This season of our life has been about the balancing act of raising these tiny humans alongside TBCo. (age 5.5), which can certainly feel like a full house and I’ve been so appreciative of finding advice or guides from others that make parenthood just that little bit smoother.
A gift for a newborn baby is one of the hardest things to buy. Since it is one of the most special, heartfelt gifts you can give, you really want to get it right. You want it to be special so that it’s treasured forever. You want it to be useful so that you are helping to make the parents lives a bit easier and unique. I mean, one baby only needs so many teddies. So after having three babies, I think I have finally composed the Top 10 Baby Gifts Guide every new baby (but really new mum and dad) needs!
1. Fresh food delivered. Being fed with nutritious meals is such an underrated gift, but often an overlooked essential for sleep deprived, busy new parents. A few weeks before the twins arrived I was so big and tired with a 1 year old to entertain and keep alive, that I had given up with cooking altogether, even though I love food. So I did a trial with Gousto and got boxes of food delivered to my door with healthy, freshly prepared ingredients and recipes I could make in as little as 10 minutes! This was bliss for the first few months/years of the twins' lives (we still get them sometimes now). Being looked after with fresh food being delivered to your door is such a weight off, especially when you are so busy looking after one (or two) new lives, that your well being becomes such a low priority! But this doesn’t have to be a food box, it could just be a homemade lasagna or soup. You can only survive on chocolate and biscuits for so long! Find out more about Gousto here.
2. A baby blanket. All a baby really needs is food, warmth and love. Wrapping a newborn baby up in a blanket is such a nurturing, instinctive act. Our twins were 5 weeks premature and so tiny that when they finally left the hospital, we had them wrapped in about 3 blankets each, even though it was the middle of July. They didn’t have an ounce of fat on them to keep them warm, so their blankets became their cocoons, protecting and comforting them when they weren't feeding on me. We had not long launched our baby blankets when they arrived, and I now can’t sing their praises highly enough and would go as far as calling them an essential. They are made from 100% natural, incredibly soft, lambswool, which is breathable, hypoallergenic and temperature regulating. Everything you want for wrapping your brand new delicate baby up in. They also repel liquid, so spit up can be soaked up with a cloth or wet wipe! If it does soak in, they can we washed on a gentle wool wash, making them so perfect for a busy life with a baby. Also, we introduced our personalisation service last year, allowing you to have a baby's name, initials and/or birthdate embroidered onto a baby blanket for that extra special touch. The baby blanket is by far our most purchased and raved about product by our own team at work. We all buy every friend and family’s new arrival a baby blanket, which comes beautifully wrapped too making it perfect for gifting, and every single one of us has said it is one of their most loved gifts. Shop the super soft lambswool baby blanket collection here.
3. A portable changing mat. It may it may not be the first thing you think of, it will get used on a daily basis and is a definite essential! This will be a very much-loved and appreciated gift. You can find some great quality mats in beautiful modern designs like this one from Cam Cam Copenhagen, here.
4. Muslins. If you are buying for first-time parents you can NEVER have too many muslins. We used to go through about 10 a day with the twins! You never quite realise how much babies spit up until it's all down your top! There are so many lovely prints and patterns, making a very unpretty situation that little bit nicer! Etta loves are even designed around baby sensory and supporting babies cognitive development, like these ones here.
5. A gift voucher. We gratefully received lots of lovely clothes for all our girls. However, some of them never even made it on the twins, as we would either have too many of one size or they weren’t suitable for the season when they finally fit them. Many items we returned for vouchers so we could buy exactly the things we needed when we needed them, and I loved being able to go guilt-free shopping for new baby clothes! But my advice would be to try and save the parents the time and effort of returning unsuitable items and just give a gift voucher. It will always be useful and very well received! Here our some lovely independent shops I would love a voucher from: Bunny Hop, Mamatot, The Modern Nursery, Scandiborn, and The Little Tartan Blanket Co, of course.
6. A baby play mat. Having a soft place to put your new baby down and let them explore and learn on is essential. Make sure it is portable, washable and woven from natural fibres that are nicer next to a baby’s delicate skin. We used one of our recycled blankets, which was perfect. I have also gifted a number to other new mum friends who love them, too. They are also great for using outside in the summer, find them here.
7. The apron bath towel. This will forever be Fergus’s number 1 baby product we never knew we needed! He was the one doing bath time 90% of the time, and when someone bought us an apron towel, it was a complete game-changer for him. It is such a simple concept, one which clips around your neck so you have two free hands to pick the baby up and lift it straight onto your chest to wrap the baby up in the towel, so you stay dry and they stay safe and snug. Genius! Find them here.
8. Baby grows. I know I said don’t buy clothes, but if you do, make sure it's baby grows! For the first few months, that's pretty much what most babies live in as they are easy to put on and take off. And when they often need three outfit changes a day (ok, Beyonce), this just makes life that little bit simpler for mum and dad! When buying baby grows, think about how practical they are (as well as how cute). The best ones I found were ones that zipped or poppered up, even during our Scottish summers we only used the long-sleeved ones, as babies need to be super snug all the time! This organic one from Kidly ticks all those boxes! Shop it here.
9. Anything handmade with love. This is not an ‘essential’ but definitely special. Receiving something handmade or personalised really felt special, and a little keepsake of this short-lived new baby stage. From those tiny knitted cardigans or personalised prints with their birth dates, these are things I will keep forever. They bring back so many memories of the whirlwind few weeks at the beginning of their lives. Eleanor Bowmer is one of my favourites for kids prints, which you can find here (or you can give that personal touch to any TBCo. product by adding embroidery.)
10. Support. Lastly, but probably the most important gift you can give to any new parent is support. This can take many forms from a hug and a cup of tea, to taking the baby for an hour so they can get some precious rest. Sometimes it can even be the support of NOT being there. Having them know you are there when they are ready but not putting the pressure on them to host yet another person, can be a gift in itself. The best support I found was from the people who said I’ll be there as soon as you need me, just let me know what I can do to help, but in the meantime enjoy getting to know your new baby and settling into being a family.