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As with all showers—bridal, baby, or otherwise—shopping the celebrant’s registry is the polite thing to do. Get them what they want! But sometimes the only things left don’t constitute a decent present on their own…or the itch to go rogue with your baby shower gift is just too strong. If you fall into either camp, you’ve come to the right place. We tapped a panel of the most seasoned experts on this topic—real parents!—to share their take on the best baby shower gifts after actually using them for a while. The quest for something that marries form and function, with a dash of delight, stops here.

Real Parents’ Baby Shower Gift Picks

Baby Books

I’ll go first! One of my favorite parts of my baby shower was that my mom asked guests to bring a signed children’s book instead of the usual greeting card. Before our daughter even arrived, she had a library’s worth of reads, from classics to modern stories—I’m all for introducing astrology early—each with a sweet personal note inside.

A Cute Bottle Sterilizer

As I prepped for motherhood, I also wanted to try to maintain my personal style among all of the changes that were on the horizon. When it came to baby gear, I searched high and low for functionality and aesthetics in all categories. I fell in love with the creamy pale peach and soft lines of the Upang bottle sterilizer. It felt good to set it out with the other things in our kitchen and not feel like we were overrun with gray and plastic baby gear. It’s a bit of a splurge, but it has quickly become one of my favorite things I’ve received. —Ali Alquiza Klidonas, founder of Over Lunch creative consultancy

A Toy-Turned-Keepsake

This beautiful heirloom toy doubles as a music box for baby and a ball to chase when the crawling phase begins. It plays the most gorgeous melody, Mozart’s “Voi Che Sapete,” an aria from The Marriage of Figaro. It held up being rolled around and bashed about by two toddlers. And unlike so many baby shower gifts that tend to get aired for a month or two, this still gets played with by my now 7-year-old and 5-year-old. Apphia Michael, stylist and writer

We got this beautiful doll from a family member that I’ll always love. Hazel Village animals and dolls are a favorite of mine and it came with a sweet vintage wooden crib to go with it. Leah Gaeddert, content creator


There’s nothing better than a selection of baby clothes once worn and loved by children you know. Community is crucial to parenthood, and sharing items contributes to a much-needed sense of togetherness. —Daphne Javitch, integrative health coach and founder of Doing Well

Easy-to-Use Swaddles

All three of our kiddos felt cozy and safe in these Ollie swaddles and slept so well. It was one of the only ones they couldn’t Houdini out of and also supereasy for both Mom and Dad [to put on]! —JP Collett, cofounder of skin-care brand Natureofthings

Travel Crib

Right after I had my first daughter, I couldn’t even fathom taking her anywhere, mainly because of the lack of consistent sleep. But once she learned to sleep through the night, it opened my world back up to traveling and spending time with friends and family. We would not have survived without this BabyBjörn travel crib. Not only did my daughter love sleeping in it, but it folds up in a flat square and is not as cumbersome as others tend to be. I love that this gift can remind others that, sure, the first few months will be challenging, but there will come a day very soon when you can experience and explore new places together as a family. — Eunice Byun, cofounder of kitchenware brand Material

All of the Food

Food was hands down the most helpful gift we received from friends after our son, Raven, was born. Our friend [chef] Diana Yen made us nourishing dishes from the postpartum cookbook The First 40 Days and stored them in perfect portions in our freezer so that we didn’t have to think about cooking. If she hadn’t, we honestly wonder if would we have eaten at all those first few days. Other friends sent us Petee’s chicken pot pies, fresh pasta, jjigae, and snacks from Pop Up Grocer. We felt so spoiled and so loved. — Quy Nguyen and Avril Nolan, founders of design gallery Form Atelier

A White-Noise Machine

One of my best friends (who’s also a mom) gave me a white-noise machine. It’s now this magical thing that helps our baby boy sleep pretty much anywhere and everywhere. It comes with multiple nightlights, perfect for the night feeds! We also bring it with us when we visit the grandparents and he naps very well there, too. Celeste Evans, fashion and style creative

A Postpartum Doula

It’s a total culture shock to welcome a child, so the most valuable gift is safety and support. A postpartum doula supports new mothers as they navigate physical and emotional healing from birth to feeding, bonding, and newborn care. An experienced doula can teach you how to soothe a colicky baby or simply allow a new mama time to shower, nap, and eat a meal. Our beloved postpartum doula, Diana Antonelli, taught us so much, made the most delicious meatballs I’ve ever had, and brought a calm and confidence to our early parenting days that was vital. —Daphne Javitch