Over on the Facebook page the past few days we’ve had a lively discussion about what to bring to a baby shower.

I observed two distinctive schools of thought. The first group presented the idea that the Baby Registry is the go-to source for gift ideas.

The other group views the shower gift as a sort of evangelistic opportunity to teach about breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, and even vaccination issues. There were also many responses that walked a middle ground between these two groups.

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As a mom of six, and the guest of honor at several baby showers, I have an interesting perspective. When I was pregnant with my first son, nearly 17 years ago, Baby Registries were very different.

We did not have a machine to shoot at bar codes. We had to walk through the store and write down our wishes.

Couple that with a very humble husband who hated the idea of asking for stuff, and the fact that I was planning to breastfeed (thus not needing bottles, bottle warmers, bottle brushes), cloth diapers (with a service–pre-internet diaper companies), and we lived in a studio apartment with no room for swings and gadgets; I had very little on my registry.

I gave up filling it out in the baby bath aisle. At my shower, I received no fewer than five baby bath tubs!

With later babies, I was given showers by various well-meaning individuals, and I never had registered for anything (I never asked for the showers either). The best gifts that I received were the ones that had me and my children in mind.

So, here are ten great ideas for baby shower gifts!

Consider the registry

Keep in mind that if a mom registered for something, then she probably wants it, whether you think it is valuable or helpful or not. If you can’t stomach the thought of gifting someone a case of formula, then don’t.

Choose something else on the list, or use the list as an inspiration or jumping-off point. The baby shower is not a good time to teach your friend about natural parenting, there are better times or places.

Make something special

Are you crafty? Can you sew or quilt? Consider making a baby quilt or knitting a sweater, or even painting a piece of artwork for the nursery. A favorite gift after the birth of my twins was a friend coming over and taking newborn photos of them for me. Sharing yourself is always welcome.

Give the gift of meals

Either make freezer meals or bring a meal after (or even in those crazy last weeks) the baby is born (call first). Gift cards for pizza or local restaurants are also welcomed by most new moms.

Pamper mom

Gather bath essentials like bath salts, essential oils, a luxurious lotion, and a pretty candle in a basket. Pair with a new bathrobe and a fluffy towel or some slippers.

Books

Children’s books are always welcome, and if you know that the mom is at least marginally like-minded The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and/or The Baby Book make great gifts.

Stock the medicine cabinet

Sure, nail clippers, fever reducers, and saline drops don’t make the most exciting gift, but when that first cold comes up, mom will be thanking you!

Diapers

Unless the mom is planning on going 100% EC, the baby is going to need diapers. Make sure you talk to mom first to determine brand preferences. And try to purchase sizes 2 and up.

Many of my babies were nearly out of size 1 by the time the pack I took home from the hospital ran out. If mom plans on cloth, buy her a few cloth diapers.

Or, as one of our Facebook members pointed out, an Econobum starter pack can work for any mom. It is an inexpensive way to try cloth, and if she decides to go with paper diapers, then the prefolds make the best burp cloths ever!

Wrap or sling

This is a gift you should check with mom first, of course, but can be most welcome, especially if you offer to come over and help her get the hang of things after the baby is born.

Keep mom’s style in mind when selecting a sling. Ring slings are the most versatile and user-friendly for new moms, they also tend to have a lower price point.

Swaddling Blankets

Even if the mom does not plan on swaddling, or only does it for a short time, the soft luxurious feel of an Aden + Anais blanket will be appreciated by both mom and baby.

Time

Offer your services as a doula, offer to come to do laundry, watch older siblings, or scrub bathrooms. Offer to be a listening ear or a sounding board. The gift of your time is precious!

Chime in! What is the best baby shower gift that you ever received?