Lost in the Baby Section at Christmas

I did something crazy yesterday. I let the checker at Fred Meyer think I had a close connection to the baby for whom I was buying a Christmas present, a piece of clothing I hope his foster mother, my niece, will like. And please God let it fit. We joked about how he was too young to be “running around” in it, and he wouldn’t be able to speak his objections because he doesn’t talk yet. Ha, ha. Happy grandma me, right? The checker doesn’t know me. I could be a loving grandmother happily buying gifts for my little guy.

As if. I am so lost in the baby section. I don’t know what sizes to get, what’s easy to put on and what’s not, what will last and what will fall apart or be outgrown in a month. I bought some books for my great-niece because my sister-in-law says she’s a big reader, but I don’t know what books she already has. I don’t know what books are appropriate for a two-year-old. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m about as comfortable in the baby department as I am at the hardware store. In both places, I’m sure somebody’s going to figure out I don’t belong and chase me away.

Baby stuff is cute. All those tiny outfits and all those clever toys. I was charmed by a big rabbit with buttons all over. When you push each one, it says something different: “Ouch, my ear.” “Rub my tummy. Etc.” I was sure the baby would love that, but he might already have one or somebody closer might already be buying him one. Plus it was expensive.

In past years with other babies, I have given books, crocheted animals, cuddly toys, rattles, little outfits . . . I have never been the one at Christmas or at baby showers to give the “big gifts,” the strollers, high chairs, christening outfits, stuff like that. No, that goes to the moms, grandmas, and godparents Nor do I give the useful gifts that only moms seem to know about, that lifesaving cream or the only toy that stopped their baby from crying.

Once, back in the hippie days, I made this wild-colored onesie thing out of granny squares that the child, who’s about 50 now, probably never wore. It was probably terribly uncomfortable, and it probably never fit. One spit-up, and it would be ruined. I didn’t know. I saw a crochet pattern and went for it. I’m like the character in “Gone with the Wind” who shrieks, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout babies!”

A lot of you probably do know babies from babysitting jobs, taking care of siblings, or helping with the babies of friends and family, but somehow I never spent much time around babies once I stopped being one myself. So now here I am about to start collecting Social Security and I’m still clueless about little ones. All my references are from my own childhood.

Even if you do know about babies, how do you negotiate the gifts for other people’s kids without buying something the parents will hate, something the child already has, or something that is totally inappropriate? Is it okay to just send money and let somebody else pick out the gift?

Let’s talk about this in the comments. Share your experiences and suggestions for dealing with the Christmas gift dilemma.

I await your comments.

5 thoughts on “Lost in the Baby Section at Christmas

  1. I have a niece and two nephews ages 5 and under. I just ask my sister what they’re into, or if I have an idea I think is good I’ll ask her if she’s ok with it. I don’t see them often as they live in a different state, so I try to send something tangible instead of a gift card. I do this partly because I assume my sister doesn’t have a lot of time to go shopping for me for them. For my niece’s birthday this past summer I found out she wanted an easel or art station. I ordered an art kit online and had it shipped to her. I received a text with a picture of her holding the gift and her face was beaming! I was so glad it was a hit. I just find small ways to do what I can from a distance. It’s tough though looking at all the kid stuff and wishing I was shopping for my own.


  2. I try to get suggestions from parents before buying something because they know what they’ve told other gift givers. I also LOVE buying noisy toys for little ones. If I can’t have kids, then I can at least enjoy buying them the noisy toys that will drive mom and dad nuts and bring the little ones joy because kids love noisy things. One year for my nephew’s birthday I asked him what he wanted (he was about ten). In a mopey voice he said he wanted a light saber, but his mom and dad wouldn’t let him have one. So I bought it for him! The look on his face was precious and one of my most cherished memories.

    I think it’s okay to send money, but I love buying gifts, so I try to buy presents if I’ll see the child open it. As my nieces and nephews are getting older, I’m really sad to give them gift cards or cash. I also see the end of my days buying presents for kids because I won’t be a grandma and I have too many nieces and nephews (12 and counting) to buy my great-nieces and nephews presents. I suppose when I’m older, I’ll just have to adopt more needy children to buy for. I won’t get to see them open the presents but I’ll still be able to buy them.


  3. This year my parents wanted to simplify things. None of us wants for anything material. The gift cards exchanged are simply transactions. I’m okay with their decision. I wanted to keep my nieces and nephews on my gift buying list, but in the end I decided to follow the lead of my parents and keep it simple. I’ll slip my college-aged niece a couple bucks. My nephew has a special thing he’s saving up for, so I’ll slip him some cash too. Maybe with a cute little trinket. I will continue my tradition with my younger niece–taking her out for lunch and some shopping during her school break.

    It’s been very freeing to take this route. I sent messages to a couple friends about replacing our gifts to each other with an extra special night out. Everyone was excited with the idea.

    My husband’s family is so large that gifts beyond the regular gift exchange gift don’t happen. We do purchase gifts for our godchildren, so I will do that. And that will be bittersweet because it’s a child I have very little contact with these days. In this situation, I can’t even ask his parents what he wants. Our relationship is strained.

    This year is different. I can’t put my finger on it, but I do know that I want 2018 to be an awesome year. Today I’m bogged down with life. I’m going to power through the rest of this year. And next year . . . it’s going to be different. Somehow.


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