Published on August 12, 2021

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While feting the arrival of a new baby with something indulgent can be fun, there’s no denying that a sterling silver feeding spoon is not the most functional of gifts. But the quest for a baby shower gift that marries form and function can be daunting—particularly for the child-free who may not be thinking as practically as those with experience. To make the search easier, we’ve roped in a panel of seasoned experts—real parents!—to tell us what they know and share their take on the best baby shower gifts. From the things they’ve loved receiving to the presents that made a memorable impact, this list of ideas will show your expectant friends just how much you love them (and their impending perma-plus-ones).

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Hand-me-downs

What better way to pass it forward than by gifting gently used pieces of clothing, gear, and toys to the next parent in need. It could be as large as a crib or as generous as a well-appointed infant wardrobe. “I love hand-me-downs,” says Daphne Javitch, the holistic health and wellness coach behind Doing Well and a mother of two. “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.”

Best for First-Time Parents: Upang Bottle Sterilizer

Grappling with the shift in identity from individual to parent can be emotional. “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,” shares Ali Alquiza Klidonas, who produces our very own podcast, Design Time, and gave birth to twins in May. “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.”

Best Keepsake: Siebensachen Mozart Kugel Music Orb

“This beautiful heirloom toy doubles as a music box for baby and a ball to chase when the crawling phase begins,” says Apphia Michael, a stylist and writer whose envy-inducing monochromatic aesthetic is #ParentingGoals personified. “It plays the most gorgeous melody, Mozart’s ‘Voi Che Sapete,’ an aria from The Marriage of Figaro.” Michael thinks this is the ultimate baby shower gift because not only is it tasteful and beautiful, it’s supremely durable and will stand the test of time. “It held up being rolled around and bashed about by two toddlers. 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. I’ve gifted it and recommended it to anyone who asks.”

Best for Seasoned Parents: Ollie World Swaddles

All parents know the importance of sleep—both for the development of babies’ brains and for their caregivers’ sanity. But repeat parents fear the lack of sleep more acutely since they have a clearer picture of what’s at stake. “All three of our kiddos felt so cozy and safe in these swaddles and slept so well,” recalls JP Collett, cofounder and CEO of skin-care and wellness brand Natureofthings, whose little ones are ages 5, 3, and 1. “It was one of the only ones they couldn’t Houdini out of and also supereasy for both Mom and Dad [to put on]!”

Best Return-to-Life Essential: Babybjorn Travel Crib

For Eunice Byun, cofounder and CEO of stylish kitchenware brand Material, a travel crib holds a deep significance: It points to what may lie beyond the blur of newborn days. “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,” shares Byun. “We would not have survived without this 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.”

Best for Those Without Family Close By: Preprepared Food

“Food was hands down the most helpful gift we received from friends after our son, Raven, was born,” say Quy Nguyen and Avril Nolan, founders of the design showroom and creative consultancy Form Atelier. “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.”

But you needn’t be a professional chef to give the gift of nourishment: “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,” the couple adds. Now they repeat the favor by gifting orders of seasonal frozen dishes from Ipsa Provisions: “They’re easy to cook in a heartbeat, which is basically all the time you have with a newborn.”

Best Group Gift: A Postpartum Doula

“A great baby shower gift is one that supports new parents; it’s a total culture shock to welcome a child, so the most valuable gift is safety and support,” says Javitch, who recommends pooling resources with other friends to offer postpartum care and mental health. “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.”

How We Vetted These Products

Every product in a Domino guide meets these criteria:

  1. They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
  2. They’re expert approved. In addition to our team of editors, we tap a range of designers, makers, renovators, and all-around knowledgeable people to share their intel.
  3. They’re endorsed by people who actually own them. We pay close attention to real reviews to know that they pass the test IRL.

Domino’s editors independently curate every product on our site, because we’re just as obsessed with a great deal and an under-the-radar discovery as you are. Items you purchase may earn us an affiliate commission.

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