My best friend is pregnant for the first time, and we were chatting about her upcoming baby shower. I remember like yesterday when my own children were babies and carried around their beloved and drooly stuffies. But, even though it feels like yesterday, my youngest will be 8 this month, and I thought I might need to update my baby gift ideas. Liz Staples, owner of Nature Calls, in the Powerhouse Mall in Lebanon, shared the best baby gift ideas from her store and showed me the most popular baby gifts for showers today.
Gift Idea #1: Board books + matching stuffed animals
Not only does Nature Calls carry perennial favorites like Good Night Moon and Pajama Time, they have new books like Dada by Jimmy Fallon (sure to be a classic!). Pair your favorite board books with matching plush characters (Runaway Bunny with a stuffed bunny, or Barnyard Dance with a fluffy cow). Board books encourage new parents to read to their babies, and are sturdy enough to stand the teething phase (who hasn't seen the inevitable bite marks in the corner of their baby's favorite?).
Gift Idea #2: Baby Paper
Baby paper is a relatively new gift idea. It's two pieces of cloth sewn together with crinkle material inside, so when babies manipulate or bite it, it makes a crinkly sound. Baby paper comes in different sizes and patterns, and there are often sturdy fabric rings sewn around the outside for chewing or puling. Baby paper is a great gift for car rides or other times when little fingers need something to play with.
Gift Idea #3: Developmental toys
My own kids loved toys like ring stackers and shape sorters. Liz stocks toys that encourage movement, where the babies have to move after the toys. "I try to stay away from anything with batteries because I want the child to do the work," Liz told me. " I want the child to make the sound effects and have to do the motion and get some action and reaction." That's important for physical and cognitive development. Try a caterpillar mobile or a classic ring stacker.
While there are a lot of online buying options out there, our local brick and mortar stores have plenty to recommend them. Nature Calls has a staff of seven local salespeople who are knowledgeable and informed. Plus, they all have kids, nieces and nephews, or brothers and sisters, so their recommendations are tried and true. You can see and touch your purchase before you buy and you've got a curated selection of great options right in front of you.
Plus, "returns are easy. We can recommend something else if it didn't work out," Liz says. Except maybe those chew-up board books.