What should I buy for a new or expecting parent?

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Our favorite gift for new parents is, of course, a snack dinner. Zingerman's offers a great Midnight Feeding gift basket for new parents, but even the simplest offering of some bread and spread is lovely for parents without time or energy to cook. 

If the new parents are already well-fed, read on for five more gift ideas.  

Great baby references

Save new parents from hours Googling themselves into despair and buy them a few great books about pregnancy and babies. Emily Oster's Expecting Better is an excellent resource for those looking for scientific analyses of common pregnancy advice. Michel Cohen's The New Baby Basics is a great A-Z reference for common baby questions that is lightweight enough to be flipped through with a baby in the other arm. Of course, you can direct new parents who want an online reference to snackdinner.

A one-handed hairdryer

Ever sleep with a bun and find your hair is still wet the next morning? Long-haired new parents can have that for days, assuming that they find time to shower. This one-handed hair dryer is wonderful because it lets parents dry their hair while holding the baby. The sound of the dryer also acts like a noise machine, so may even help soothe a baby to sleep.

You can read snackdinner's full review here

A beautiful blanket

It is impossible to have too many blankets. Even after a baby grows out of swaddling and tummy time, blankets will find new life as fort-making materials and ghost costumes. Aden & Anais muslin swaddling blankets make lovely gifts and have plenty of post-baby uses

Tiramisu Baby Blanket with coordinating hats.

Tiramisu Baby Blanket with coordinating hats.

If you are crafty, consider a homemade blanket. Even if you're not crafty, this might be a good time to start. Baby blanket patterns are great starter projects for novice crocheters and knitters. This Tiramisu Baby Blanket pattern contains only a few basic stitches, and works well in a range of colors. 

A college fund

Check with the parents to see if they have already set up a 529 plan for their baby. If not, offer to set one up in the child's name. 529 plans are designed for college savings, but most plans are flexible and allow the money to be withdrawn for different purposes, or even shared with siblings or cousins. In these early years, it's easy and fun to buy toys and clothes, but you'll be thankful when that baby turns into a teenager and your gift plan is already in place.

A long-term wardrobe

Many new parents are overwhelmed by the deluge of newborn and 3-6 month clothing they receive for a baby. When you think you're just buying an adorable 3-month onesie or footie pajama, you might be buying a new parent the stress of making sure to photograph the baby in a new outfit in order to thank you for it.

Instead of buying newborn and baby clothes, consider buying all-season basics in a range of sizes up to 3T, which will help parents dress their children for years to come. Of course, if the new parents and their baby share a 500 square-foot apartment, this gift may not be practical, so consider gift cards to stores like Old Navy so that they can easily order the next size up when they need it. 

Check out snackdinner's other gear guides for new parents