Baby showers are a fantastic way to set up new parents with baby essentials. You can never go wrong with buying gifts from the registry to ensure you get what the parents-to-be want or need – and of course there are the old standards: blankets, clothes, stuffed animals, etc.

That being said, you may want to surprise new parents with something a little less conventional, especially if this isn’t their first baby and they already have a lot of the must-haves for newborn-hood. I asked a group of parents to list some of their favourite shower and new baby gifts that aren’t usually found on a baby registry. Here’s what they said:

Things that Come in the Mail

Being home with a baby gets monotonous. Getting real mail can be an exciting way to break up the day. Consider gifting a magazine subscription, or a subscription box. Whether it is parenting-specific, or adult-oriented, what new parent wouldn’t love to look forward to a gift in the mail each month?

Services

The first month or two with a new baby is all-consuming. If you get to shower, it’s a huge win. Day-to-day maintenance can be overwhelming and overlooked. Hiring a cleaning service, a lawn-mowing service, a snow-shovelling service, or any other kind of service that allows new parents to cross something off their to-do list is a godsend.

Food

If you don’t happen to be Julia Child, there are plenty of other ways to help new parents stay fed. Sign them up for fresh ingredient delivery boxes like HelloFresh or GoodFood. Grab a few Uber Eats or Skip the Dishes gift cards (make sure you know what is available in their area) or M&M Meat Shop gift cards to stock their freezer. If these are outside of your budget, get them a basket of easy snacks like granola bars, trail mix, etc., for them to grab from when they are stuck on the couch with a sleeping or crying baby.

A Keep-Warm Travel Mug

New parents rarely get to drink the coffee they so desperately need right after making it. A mug that allows their coffee to stay hot for the hours it will take them to drink it is a small, but lovely, gesture.

Photos

Overwhelmingly, the most suggested gift was a newborn photo shoot. A non-essential expense, parents might skip buying this for themselves – but will treasure it always if gifted to them. If a photoshoot is too pricey, consider a gift card for photo prints or a photo book. New parents take hundreds of photos of their babies, but rarely remember to get hard copies. Having printed photos gives them a way to easily show off their new baby, a handy way to look back on memories when their babies are older, and a measure of security in case those irreplaceable digital photos become lost or accidentally deleted.

Postpartum Doula Services

If you are in a financial position to do so, giving the gift of extra help with the baby and around the house from an expert in infant care would be amazing. (Remember to check with the parents ahead of time, some people would love this, others want more privacy.)

Diapers and Wipes

The best “teacher gift” I ever got from a parent was a gigantic box of wipes. I was nine months pregnant at Christmas, and rather than the typical mugs and ornaments, this parent brought me the biggest box of wipes I have ever seen. It lasted us for the entire first month, and was one less thing for us to remember to buy. Diapers work well too, particularly if you buy several smaller packs of different brands and sizes for the new parents to try out. Remember that babies can go through the first few sizes quickly – mine went from newborn size to a size two within weeks – so it can be helpful to buy larger sizes as well. (The same is true for clothes – 6 month+ clothes are as handy as smaller ones.)

Self-Care for Parents

A gift card for a hair cut or pedicure, or a basket of nice toiletries. Even things like a TV and movies streaming membership, fun apps, or digital audiobooks to entertain parents during those weeks when the baby refuses to be put down would come in handy. Gifting parents some guilty pleasures for themselves will always be appreciated.

Books Instead of Cards

If you are the person throwing the shower, consider asking guests to buy books instead of cards to go with their gifts. With cards costing as much as eight dollars these days, an inscribed book is no more expensive (and often cheaper!), but much more special.

Embarrassing Purchases Pack

This one seems a little odd, but hear me out. Childbirth is gross. If you are buying a gift for someone who has given birth (or will be), this pack could be quite helpful and save them an awkward trip to the drug store when they are already emotional. Think of it like a diaper cake, but instead of a basket – a sitz bath. And instead of rattles, onesies and loveys – stool softeners, Tucks pads, Preparation H, Depends underwear (way better than the mesh panties), and a decent peri bottle. This is definitely a purchase for someone you are close to, not a coworker at an office shower!

You can always go the traditional route and get the cutesy or handy baby clothes and supplies – but if you are feeling like branching out into the unexpected, I hope this list gives you a great starting point.


Heather M. Jones is a writer in Toronto and mom to two young boys. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.