It sounds cliched, but the most valuable gift you can give a new parent is your time. Text them during night feeds; offer to hold the baby while they shower; cook them something nourishing; listen as they rant about how hard/amazing it is; take photos of them with their baby; offer to wash up. But before you do, check in and make sure they’re ready for company.

Second to offering your time, you can buy them a gift (babies need so much stuff). And the best baby shower gifts are ones that’ll be used over and over again, potentially for years to come.

We’ve tapped a few parents on the shoulder in the Broadsheet office and narrowed down their ideas to 21 practical and parent-approved purchases that will help make that first year a little easier.

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from $7.99 Books Magic Beach, Goodnight Moon, The Gruffalo, Spot Goes to the Park, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Dear Zoo and Diary of a Wombat are all on high rotation in our house. And when I think about it, all of those picture books were gifts. Babies love to be read to, and giving books at a baby shower is one of the most affordable and enjoyable gifts you can give. There’s also heaps of choice. For little bubbas, there’s high-contrast black-and-white books. Infants love books with flaps to lift up, or moving parts. And toddlers love textural or noisy books they can interact with. You really can’t go wrong.

Purebaby bunny rug

$34.95 Purebaby bunny rug Want to buy something cute but functional? Babies grow out of clothes super quickly, but swaddle wraps and rugs come in handy for newborn swaddling and naps in the car or pram. Australian company Purebaby has a cute range of 100 per cent cotton wraps with subtle patterns, like this nautical themed one with whales, seahorses and teeny-tiny fish. You can also buy bibs, growsuits, beanies and sleepsuits in the same pattern if you want to go all out with a matchy-matchy set.

Haakaa baby nail care set

$36.95 Haakaa baby nail care set If you’re buying a gift for first-time parents, one of the big challenges they’ll face is trimming their newborn’s nails for the first time. The idea of sharp or abrasive objects coming anywhere near bub’s precious skin can be overwhelming (what if they wriggle!?). Save them the stress and buy a super-gentle nail trimming set. This one by Haakaa has detachable pads so you can opt for the softest emery pad and smooth off any long nails while babies sleep or feed. Little ones are less likely to scratch their faces, and the nail kit can be used by anyone in the family – simply switch to a more appropriate file.

Gro-To Baby Bath and Massage set

$45 Gro-To Baby Bath and Massage set Little babies don’t need to be bathed often, and they don’t really need products, but once bub is eating solids and crawling around in the dirt – it happens quickly –bath time becomes a fun and necessary part of the day. Zoë Foster Blake’s coveted brand Go-To has a baby range, adorably named Gro-To. There’s hypoallergenic wash, body oil, shampoo and lotion. Its Clean and Soft set is very cute – just look at those funny faces on the packaging. For $45 it includes a face cloth, gentle cleanser and a body oil for after the bath. You can also select a fragrance-free version for sensitive skin.

Nature Baby Bouncinette

$59.95 Nature Baby Bouncinette Breathable. Lightweight. Easy to wash. When I spotted a baby in one of these bouncers at a mums and bubs Pilates class I envied that mother’s smarts. Mine was fending for themselves on a free mat and her bub was cool, entertained and safely secured. This New Zealand-made bouncer is significantly cheaper than the Swedish Baby Björn ones and it comes in three colours: olive, clay and natural. There’ll come a time in your new parent’s life when putting a baby in one of these is the only way they’ll shower or go to the bathroom that day, and you’ll forever be the hero who made it happen.

Ergopouch newborn gift pack

$61.95 Ergopouch newborn gift pack In those incredibly demanding days and nights after bub is born, the “routine” goes a little something like this: eat, play, sleep (though, I admit, this never really happened for my baby). It sounds simple, but with very little sleep in the tank it’ll feel like running a marathon daily. Australian brand Ergopouch has a range of swaddles, sleep bags and onesies made from organic cotton and bamboo. Its Newborn Baby Gift Pack includes a 1.0 tog (thermal overall grade) cocoon swaddle and a 0.2 long sleeve layer, which is designed for temperatures 21 to 24°C. It won’t guarantee sleep, but it will provide some relief from manually swaddling your baby – which can feel especially challenging at 4am.

Paire merino-blend unisex lounge pants

$80 Paire merino-blend unisex lounge pants Newborns don’t know the difference between night and day, and neither will their parents. Between all the rocking, feeding, patting and pram pushing there’s very little energy left to think about getting dressed or keeping up with the washing. One gift you could give is a pair of soft, wrinkle-resistant and temperature-regulating lounge pants that are so comfy you’ll feel like you’re wearing pyjamas on the many laps around the park trying to get the little nugget to sleep. These merino and eucalyptus ones from Paire look especially stylish as a set; they come in five colours, have pockets and feel super silky next to skin.

Izimini baby chair

$85 Izimini baby chair When the little squish is sitting up, the food fun begins. Eating solid food gets very messy, and no doubt the parents you’re buying for will want to buy a highchair for dining indoors (and a Catchy for all the food that’s jettisoned from the tray), but there are so many other places baby will eat – at the beach, in the park, on holiday, at the grandparents’. This lightweight baby chair is so much fun for setting up a safe eating space on the go. It comes in many cute designs – from terrazzo and checks to shell shapes and floral – all thought up by local artists, including Sara Riley from Sydney and Constanza Goeppinger in the Gold Coast. Babies can sit in it until they weigh 15 kilos, it’s easy to clean, and they come in a matching drawstring bag for simple storage.

Silverette nursing cups

$85 Silverette nursing cups Breastfeeding parents have called these little silver nipple hats a lifesaver. In those first six weeks of cluster-feeding and establishing your milk supply, nipples can get cracked, sore and damaged. These Barbarella-style silver cups help repair delicate nipple skin and protect them from rubbing when worn under clothing. You wear them between feeds and the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of silver do their thing to help the skin repair and recover. It’s a thoughtful gift for those who are planning to breastfeed. They come in two sizes: regular for cup sizes A to C and XL for breasts larger than a C cup.

Juem Tilda maternity bra

$89 Juem Tilda maternity bra Bodies go through a lot during pregnancy and postpartum, and it can take time to adjust physically and mentally. So it’s especially lovely when baby shower gifts focus on the birthing parent and not just the baby. Byron Bay brand Juem – sister to loungewear label Deiji Studios, and one of our favourite underwear brands – makes delicate and desirable maternity bras and undies for breastfeeding people. The Tilda Bra, for example, comes in a classic bralette shape with scalloped trimming and floral lace detail. Its soft cup design doesn’t put pressure on the breast, and the lining is made from absorbent stretch cotton. It’s spacious enough to wear with breast pads and chic enough to keep in your undies drawer after breastfeeding days.

The Nappy Society organisation cube set

$99 The Nappy Society organisation cube set Nappies. Wipes. Nappy rash cream. Change of clothes. Hand sanitiser. When you first start venturing out of the house with a little one, it feels like they need their own rider. It helps if you can have a kit ready to go, so you can focus on finding that sweet spot between naps for a walk in the park. These clear organisation cubes are the perfect shape for a packet of wipes, and a handful of nappies and sanitiser for the parents – making dealing with a blowout at the supermarket ever so slightly less stressful.

Purebaby Duck jumper and Down River beanie

$99.90 Purebaby Duck jumper and Down River beanie Enough with the practical gifts, show me the cute stuff. If you’re itching to buy an adorable outfit for the new bub, Purebaby has an extensive collection of organic cotton clothing for babies and older children. Its super-soft wool and organic cotton blend Duck Jumper comes in a neutral biscuit colour with a sweet little ducky pattern. It’s available in sizes 000 to 2, and there are matching knitted pants and a pom pom-topped beanie to complete the look.

Comfy Koalas gift card

$100 Comfy Koalas gift card If you thought buying a pack of nappies was straightforward, there’s actually a lot to consider. Do the parents want to use reusable cloth nappies? Have they already bought a subscription? Are they adventurously opting for the elimination communication method? If you’re buying for parents who’d like the convenience of disposable nappies but hate the idea of adding more plastic waste to landfill, there are heaps of local, eco-friendly brands. Sydney-born Comfy Koalas makes bamboo disposables, which are biodegradable. The nappies don’t have prints or dyes, are soft on the skin, and the bamboo has antimicrobial properties that reduce nappy rash. It also offers subscription and delivery services, and biodegradable wipes. Comfy Koalas has a Newborn and Premmie Starter Pack, or you can buy a $100 gift card and let them decide how and when to spend it.

Lovevery The Looker play kit

$130 Lovevery The Looker play kit You’ve probably noticed certain toys capture an infant’s attention more than others. Often it’s because a toy is meeting a child’s specific developmental stage at the right time – such as rattles when a baby learns to grasp, or peekaboo games when they’re learning object permanence. Toy subscription service Lovevery specialises in play kits designed for those milestones. It has kits for ages zero to 12 weeks, three to four months, five to six months, and so on – all the way up to three years old. It launched in Australia in 2023 and the Montessori-style toys have taken off (you’ll see them everywhere). The first kit contains high-contrast black-and-white cards, a silicone rattle, wooden books, sensory links to attach to a pram, and a colourful mobile – all designed for a newborn’s sight and sensory stage. The first kit is $130, or kick start a subscription to receive toys every couple of months.

July Everyday Tote Large

$175 July Everyday Tote Large There are some very ugly nappy bags out there, and to be honest, the period of time you need to carry heaps (nappies, wipes, creams, sanitiser, toys, snacks, bottles and books) is shorter than you think. So investing in a bag that has life beyond baby days is smart. This cotton canvas tote from July is pitched at commuters, with its various compartments and a laptop sleeve, but it would work well as a spacious bag for parents too. It has a bottle holder, an outside pocket for easy access to the essentials, and it’s machine washable if you ever have a spillage or crushed snacks at the bottom. When it’s time for bub to go to daycare or school, it can become a work/life bag.

Jnr Life Boom Boom playmat

$175 Jnr Life Boom Boom playmat They’re not called rugrats for nothing. Little bubs need tummy time to help them build muscle strength to sit independently and crawl. They’ll love being read books, reaching for rattles and – when they’re on the move – playing with pull-along toys on or around a soft, slightly cushioned mat that they’ll learn is their playtime space. These circular ones from Jnr Life come in deep rust, marine blue, stone-grey and darker grey. They’re designed by Melbourne mums Nicole Davis and Ashleigh Pyke, and the mats are easy to wash. Bring on the crumbs from mat snacks and wet patches from chaotic floor-based nappy changes.

Leander Matty change mat

$199.95 Leander Matty change mat Smooth and spongy but also sturdy, easy to clean and light enough to lug around the house, this Leander mat is like the Rolls Royce of change mats. You don’t need a fancy change mat to change a nappy, but it does look and feel good. It’s made of polyurethane foam and it doesn’t require a cover or other fabric to sit between baby and mat. We used ours on the kitchen table, on a play mat, in the back of a car … and until the baby was too tall to find it comfortable. It’s a popular style and the Memo stocks it in six colours, including sage, wood rose and blueberry.

Hackerlily Hipsurfer

$207.95 Hackerlily Hipsurfer Baby carriers are superb, especially when you have a little dot who just wants your warmth and comfort. When little ones start to walk, they love to explore, then be picked up, then down again to inspect something on the ground, then up again in your arms (and repeat). One of the newest styles of baby carriers is essentially a bumbag with a hip seat that you can pop the baby on as you cradle with one hand. The weight of the baby is more evenly distributed across your hips than if you simply carry them, and the bumbag part is handy for carrying wipes, snacks and other essentials. Physios and osteopaths love it, and this particular brand (designed by Australian mum Laura Campbell) has removable and changeable covers, so you can wash them easily or change the colour to suit your outfit.

Curio baby blanket

$240 Curio baby blanket Parents and bubs will love snuggling up together for naptime with a soft, comforting blanket (especially in the colder months). We love these chequered, striped and chain link styles from Melbourne brand Curio. Founder Georgie Brunmayr sources her wool from Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, and each 100 per cent merino blanket is knitted at a factory in Melbourne. The baby size is 115 x 90 centimetres, which is ample coverage for a pram or bassinet. Melbourne’s Shrunk Store has it in baby pink, black and white, green, and rust. Or shop directly with Curio for a bigger range, such as lavender check and rose ripple patchwork styles.

Babybee Miles pram

$449.99 Babybee Miles pram One big-ticket item every parent will need at some stage is a pushchair or pram. We have two: an everyday stroller with a bassinet that we used from day one, and a collapsible travel stroller that lives in the car. The latter gets the most mileage as it’s lightweight, easy to pack away and always ready when we need it (for swimming lessons, trips to the park, and after daycare). This Babybee one is a good example of a functional and light stroller that can be used daily or on trips away. Its major selling point is that you can pack it away in one second. It has a carry strap, and you can adjust the seat so the baby can take a nap lying down from any age up to when they weigh 22 kilograms (in many, many years to come).

Koala Kookaburra cot

$800 Koala Kookaburra cot Going in on a big gift with friends, family or colleagues? Cots range from $150 to $2000, and if the parents you’re buying for are after a mid-range version the Kookaburra cot from Koala can be assembled without a toolkit. Its solid beechwood panels slot together to create a sturdy base that can be adjusted to two heights – lower when the baby is pulling themselves up into a standing position. Both the cot and mattress (sold separately) can be delivered same day in metro areas, and it comes with a five-year warranty. It also meets Red Nose Australia’s Safer Sleep criteria.

More ideas

Every parenting journey is different, just as each baby’s needs are individual and changeable. This gift guide could have doubled or tripled, depending on the unique circumstances of birth, feeding, sleep and parenting styles. Here are some other winners: a portable night light; teethers; a baby bath; a thermometre; an ergonomic bassinet; food delivery services (Dinner Ladies, The Postpartum Pantry, The Whole Bowl and Made For Mothers are a few good choices); tummy time toys; nappy cream; swimmers; a white-noise machine; baby’s first shoes; and plenty of muslin cloths.

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