Dean’s official short list of great presents that no one else will probably give new parents, which they nonetheless really need:
- A Nerf Football ($10 http://amzn.to/jJE1LE). Babies like to play with balls regardless of gender. Footballs have an odd shape that allows babies to learn more about their world – you can roll it along the floor along its widest point, tilted so it wobbles side to side, or even end-over-end. Various types of spins are also really easy to do. A lot more variety in the ways it can entertain compared to a simple sphere. Also, I only advise Nerf because it’s soft enough for newborns. Leather footballs have vastly superior rolling ability, and are potentially safer/more durable chewables.
- A Large Box Spool of Bubble Wrap ($16 http://amzn.to/ldX5Ml). It kills the Earth with indestructible plastic waste. It has the potential to suffocate your child. Still, babies are stressful. They drive you insane sometimes. For the first year, having that box as a way to “pop out” the everyday stresses of parenthood will be a surprisingly effective balm for most that ails. Then, once the little duffer can get in on the action, it’s one of the cheapest babysitters-per-foot money can buy. GREAT FOR BIRTHDAY PARTIES.
- Baby Signing Time DVDs ($17 ea. http://amzn.to/mowa2e). Not Singing, Signing. Crying is great the first few months, because you know it means one of two things. But, eventually, those screeches become “one word that means everything”… Sometimes it’s hard to know what an older baby wants, because they simply cannot speak yet. Enter simplified ASL sign language! Once they get the motions down, you’ll revel in the ability to have actual conversations with your kid, and if you’re lucky, see them make their first pre-verbal joke! Really cool stuff… And yes, putting that DVD on might earn you a 15 minute nap as an extra bonus.
- A Bubble Machine (~$20 http://amzn.to/jo6qHY). I recommend the Gazillion Typhoon, but it’s nearly impossible to find (Try ). More on why it is the best here: http://www.waynesthisandthat.com… — This guy is a one-man Quora of bubble machines. Simply put, babies love bubbles. Battery powered (8xAA, WTF?!?), so you can take it to the park. Rock the coolest stroller in mommy-land.
- A WeeRide Kangaroo Bike Seat ($50 http://amzn.to/mN2vtz). Okay, it’s not really a “birth-age” item, but if the parents like to bike, this will work from whenever their kid’s neck will support the weight of the head, and is legal not too terribly long after that. The central placement makes biking less of a struggle compared to rear seats, allows you to keep the extra weight entirely within your center of gravity, and the lil’ tike can take in the scenery, instead of an increasingly-sweat-stained view of your back.
- A Roomba Cleaning Robot ($200-600 http://amzn.to/iZTXWR). This is pretty straightforward: parents got no time for cleaning, and yet need everything to be cleaned and disinfected constantly. Also, babies tend to be at least somewhat enthralled by anything that moves and doesn’t try (hard) to eat them. It’s the priciest item on my list, good as a “group buy” within an office/team. These are great for crumbs and dust, the higher end ($300+) models are programmable, and can be set to vacuum just before wakeup, while you’re out of the house during the day, or even overnight.
I wouldn’t worry too much about giving a gift that pays off 6-12 months down the line. New parents are constantly tired, busy, and stressed. Having toys and distractions that their kid can “grow into” will be a total relief… Plus, odds are they’ll probably get all the newborn stuff elsewhere. 😉
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