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Baby Gift Etiquette: What to Give and When!

19th Jun 2013

When you get to a certain age, it seems as if everybody you know suddenly starts having babies – there will almost always be a friend, colleague or family member who’s expecting. It’s a hugely exciting time, but as the big day approaches you may begin to wonder about your gifting options. While we all love to mark the arrival of the newborn with a special present, it can be a bit confusing working out what exactly you should buy and, even more importantly, when you should give it.

In a lot of instances these days, there are at least three occasions when it could be appropriate to give a gift:

– at the baby shower before the baby is born
– on your first visit to the mum and new arrival after they’ve come home
– at the christening or naming ceremony

You may be happy to give a gift at each of these occasions, but of course you can’t afford to be giving an expensive gift each time – especially if the next newborn baby will be coming along just a month or two later! So, when should you give your ‘main’ present? And what should that present be?

The Baby Shower

Not everybody has a baby shower, but they are becoming increasingly more popular in this country. Normally, the baby shower will take place a month or two before the due date (meaning that you don’t have to be on edge worrying the mum-to-be will suddenly go into labour!) It is an opportunity for the friends and family of the expectant mother to all get together, and giving gifts is a big part of the event. It’s during the baby shower that the couple is likely to receive practical presents, so that they are fully prepared for the new baby’s arrival.

Close family members and friends may make big purchases to help out, such as the baby bath or even the pushchair or cot. Other appliances such as bottle sterilisers or nappy dispensers can be a good idea for friends to buy, though be sure to check what they already have so you don’t get a duplicate item. If you have a smaller budget, or don’t know the mum-to-be well enough to get such a big present, then things such as babygrows, bibs and dummies are all things that the couple are going to need multiples of once the baby arrives.

The First Visit

If there wasn’t a baby shower, then the first time you visit the newly made family can be a good time to take round practical presents such as clothes. By the time you visit, they are likely to have all of the essentials that they need so just focus on things that they will always be running out of.

If you already gave this kind of present before the baby was born, then a nice alternative idea is to take a gift for the new mum. Something like a bath set that she can use to pamper herself with is a wonderful idea, in recognition of the hard work that she put in to bringing the baby into the world. A token gift for the baby, such as a cuddly toy, is fine at this point.

The Christening

In some cases, you may know for definite that the couple intends to have the baby christened, and what date it will happen on. Often, however, christenings aren’t planned until after the birth and can sometimes be pushed back for months – frequently not actually happening until the baby is quite a bit older. It’s therefore probably unwise to wait until this occasion to give your main present.

Instead, you should consider buying something traditional for the christening, such as a keepsake gift made from silver. Spoons, rattles and jewellery are popular ideas, or you may want to give something a little unique. The Royal Mint has a range of christening gifts such as lucky silver pennies or coin sets to mark the year. Christenings are definitely the time to give more sentimental presents as opposed to practical gifts. The exception to this would be if you live quite far away from the mum and dad, and it’s the first time you’re meeting the newborn. In this case, you may wish to give your main present at the christening – and the positive is that by this point, you will already know what the couple already has, and what they potentially need for their growing baby.

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