If you are like me, you dread shopping for baby gifts. However, unless you have absolutely no fertile friends, nieces, cousins, sisters, etc…which I would then say you have lucked out by becoming a solo explore and researcher on the most northern point of the world, well then, you’ll have to find something to give the belly-rubbin’ gestator that proves that you are not completely  socially graceless. I’m here to let you know that there’s a way to do this without having to do the Walk of Pain into Babies-R-Us or down the baby aisle in Target. 

Here’s a list of items we  in the DD House have discovered to be perfect gifts to give AND get that are both practical and unusual and won’t be sent to Goodwill when the baby has outgrown it in two days:

thermos1) Thermos– ZGirl hasn’t adjusted to accepting a bottle that isn’t warm. I’ve tried the bottle warmers you can plug into your car’s lighter, but it never warms up what’s inside enough. What works great when I will have ZGirl away for the house for a while is to make up a couple of bottles with dry formula and then bring along a thermos full of warm water. If you are kooziegoing to buy a thermos, get a quality one, like what you find in camping equipment. Obviously this works for cool drinks for the toddler on the go.

2) Koozies – Once the bottle is warm (or cold), keep’em that way. Purchasing bonus is that koozies also hide the fact that Mommy might be throwing back a 12 oz of something other than soda.

lamp3) Lamp – You say “Duh!”? Surprisingly, the one place couples forget to put a lamp is on the changing table (if one will fit), so you may have to scope out the future nursery (or just ask). If the changing table won’t fit a  freestanding lamp, check out a clip-on lamp. That lamp over there on the night stand next to the crib? It will be utterly worthless at 2:00 a.m., when later at 6:00 a.m. the next changing exposes that there’s residual poop on the changing pad and/or up the baby’s backside. I would even go so far as to get one with a magnifying glass, which is great for sliver removals and clipping finger- and toe-nails.

dimmer4) Dimmer Switch– Now a dimmer on the wall light-panel is nice, but defeats the purpose of keeping baby in a semi-snoozing mode during a diaper change in the middle of the night. Instead you can get dimmer switches at a home improvement store that connects to table lamps (dimmers will not work on lamps that use fluorescent bulbs). Purchasing Bonus? You can send your husband on this errand. Make sure to write it down, draw a picture and set a budget first though to avoid him coming home with a cordless drill.

nightlight5) Night lights – Pretty self-explanatory but commonly overlooked.

spats6) Plastic / Wooden Kitchen Utensils – If the expectant mom is the type of person who spends any amount of time in the kitchen, get her a set of some brightly bowlscolored spatulas for chewing, or a metal set of measuring spoons for noisy clinking, or some wooden salad servers to bang on pans. Also good for kitchen play is plastic nesting bowls in fun colors for sorting play.

machine7) White Noise Machine– I don’t know what possessed me to buy a white noise machine in the first place when ZGirl was born, but by God, it’s been a lifenight saver. The one we have can either be plugged in or run on batteries, so if we were to ever stay overnight somewhere, at least it will bring some sense of familiarity to strange surroundings. Ours has been running non-stop for the past 11 months and 2 weeks. The Purchasing Bonus on getting this item is you might be able to pick up some related relaxation items at the same store (meditation tapes, scented candles, bath oils, etc.) – not that I am advising you to “just relax”, but a glass of wine always goes better with a candle-lit whirlpool bath.

As I wrote at the beginning, these are all things we have about the house that we cannot imagine going without. While a gift card will never be rejected by the recipient because it is the epitome of practical, but let’s be honest here and admit that all those “oohs” and “ahhhs” as they pass around a gift card might be a bit…erm…forced. Don’t forget to write a brief explanation in the card as well, just in case your friends start thinking it’s time for a baby-shower intervention.