Coming up with the perfect gift to give new parents can be stressful. You want it to be both useful and something they might actually want—and it’s hard to determine what checks both boxes. So we gathered seven gifts that are perfect for parents of little ones. Pin them, share them or use them as inspiration for your own gift ideas.
1. The gift of encouragement
Part of the deal with this parenting gig is the nagging fear that you are constantly doing stuff wrong. Honor the new parents in your life by celebrating and witnessing their successes. Get out your trusty old pen and paper and write a letter—a real, scribbly, hard-to-read letter, in which you list or highlight all the things you think they do well as a parent.
That beautiful way he sings to his son to calm him down, the times when she shows up for meetings obviously tired but still prepared and carrying the picture she drew with her daughter that morning, the way their newborn is growing and thriving, that awesome idea he had that saved the day during the great shopping cart meltdown—write them down. Applaud them. Give them lots of shiny time in the light.
2. The gift of wellness
Between kid time and couple time, it’s easy for self-care to get a little lost. Find a local yoga studio that offers childcare and gift a 10-class pass. Schedule a couple’s massage for your daughter and son-in-law who have been pacing and rocking their chunk of a newborn for the last four months.
Offer to push the stroller or wear the baby as the three of you go on a regular morning hike and chat about things that have nothing to do with bedtimes or diapers. Give new parents space and opportunity to get out, stretch their legs and focus on themselves for a bit. Or let them clean themselves. In peace. Seriously. A long bath or shower—guilt free!—while you hold the baby may be heaven for them right now.
3. The gift of nourishment
Offer to reignite the meal-bringing—schedule a time to deliver a fully prepared meal, hot and ready, in disposable containers that can be effortlessly rinsed and recycled. Don’t forget dessert! ?
Deliver your dinner with a smile, stay and chat if you’re invited and leave the fam to a peaceful, stress-free evening of culinary delight as they savor not doing dishes for once. Or go all out and create a magical “in-home restaurant” experience, complete with full-service waiting and dishwashing and lots of laughter.
Pro tip: Bring crayons for the kiddos and an after-dinner cocktail for Mom and Dad.
4. The gift of community
If you’d like to give an incredible gift to someone who has days to fill, get out your Google and do some research. Gather ideas for activities around town—story times at the library, concerts for kids, movies in the park, new-mom meetups, holiday events. All that research takes time and energy: two resources that can be at a premium when you have tiny people to tend to day in and day out.
If you really want to invest in getting them out and about, gift a membership to a local museum or amusement park or sign them up for a music or movement class that parents and kids can do together.
5. The gift of memories
Are you handy with a camera? Take a young family out for an informal photo shoot. Everyone wants beautiful photos of their families, and most of us try to hire professionals whenever possible. But it can be expensive and overwhelming to try to capture all the crazy changes that kids go through.
Your time and editing skills could be a huge blessing. If photography isn’t your gift, get your hands on existing photographs from the past year and craft them into a memory book for the family. Little ones LOVE looking at photos of themselves and people they know—make them a storybook starring all their favorite folks!
6. The gift of romance
Send your favorite couple out for a night to reconnect and recharge. Offer to babysit while Mom and Dad head out for a romantic dinner on your dime, or switch things up and steal the kids away while you leave the couple with a movie and some snacks, and time to snuggle.
Put together a date box with some gift cards or tickets and babysitting coupons. Gift a bottle of your favorite artisan spirit for nightcaps. Every little romantic moment helps. Seriously.
7. The gift of time
Time is the rarest and most precious gift you can give these days. Give the gift of... well... yourself. Time to babysit, time to hang out, time to play. It could be a girls’ night out, an offer to do laundry or clean the kitchen, a weekend away, an hour of downtime. These gifts are precious and needed and loved.
If you want to really go the extra mile, follow up with scheduling—even in the face of incredible generosity, scheduling can feel overwhelming to young parents, and it can be awkward to call someone up and say, “Hey, give me that babysitting you promised!”
Persist. Call. Text. Email. Get on the books and into the lives of those babies and those lovely mamas and daddies and give them the gift of YOU. What more could we possibly ask for?
A version of this article was originally published on Girl of Cardigan.