Sometimes you get to the registry and everything is already bought. (Well, everything under $150.) Sometimes you get bored of buying the same Aden + Anais swaddles over and over. Sometimes, you just want to give a gift long after the shower, and you’d like it to be useful and not just cute. For all of those cases — or honestly, if you just want to know some good stuff that EVERY mom should know about/have, even when it’s not glamorous or cute enough to make it onto anybody’s wishlist — we offer up this, our list of random and under-the-radar but tried-and-true parenting gear that everybody loves once they have it.
The baby briefcase
I received one of these for my first child, and I actually use the same one for both children now — a handy, simple place to store social security cards, immunization records, birth certificates and all the other paperwork that you don’t want to disappear into the vast void of refrigerator warranties and marriage licenses and car titles and the rest of the adult paperwork you’re supposed to be keeping track of. This small file folder makes me feel — in this ONE instance — like a very organized, highly responsible parent who knows where all the important files are at any given moment.
Mustela gift set
Mustela has been around for decades now, but it’s been gaining speed in recent years in the baby world because it’s awesome — plant-based, hypoallergenic, and really helpful with cradle cap or dry patches or eczema. Also, it smells better than literally any baby product you have ever smelled anywhere. It’s not as fancily packaged as some newer, fresher-looking products, but trust: This stuff is the best.
A Shutterfly gift card and some classic frames.
Because one of the hardest tasks as a parent is finding the energy/time to do something with the bazillion of photos we take, a little nudge in the right direction is welcome. Yes, people can do Chatbooks anytime they want — but perhaps it wouldn’t have taken me four years into motherhood before I hung a single photo on a wall in our home if I had had the Shutterfly and the frames already here, ready and waiting. (One less excuse, you know?) My personal favorite for simple but tasteful frames is West Elm, where they come gallery-style and pre-matted.
Corner covers … and other wildly boring but practical goodies
I know — could this be any duller? But I cannot help it — when I find something that is the very best, I simply must tell other people about it, even when it is something as pedestrian as corner covers. And these are great ones! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate these clear, almost invisible corner covers — I put them on everything because they actually do the job they’re supposed to: They stay on and keep the kids from God knows how many head wounds; they don’t damage my furniture; and — unlike the vast majority of options out there — they’re not some gross gray or brown or some ugly bulky thing that completely ruins the aesthetic around here. Stick these guys in a basket with tiny baby hangers, really good nail clippers, FridaBaby’s nose suckers and Windi (for gas), and one of those poncho-bibs, and you’ve got a great gift made up all the random everyday stuff nobody talks about but everyone really needs/loves.
We live and die by the so-easy-to-wash silicone place mats, bibs and food binkies that we’ve gathered over the years. Cloth bibs are cute, but look disgusting after about two wears — and who needs more laundry? The place mats are especially excellent for home and for restaurants during that window of time when your little one can’t be trusted with a plate but can pick up food that is put down in front of her. And the silicone food binkies work the same way as the mesh ones — that is to say, they’re an awesome way to let your little one eat food in a way that doesn’t involve you spooning it in — but aren’t as icky. Excellent gifts or buys, all of ’em!