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The baby's finally here, and the expecting parents are officially a family. To help a new threesome celebrate, you can always give the basics – baby clothes, bathing and feeding supplies, diapers – but if you're looking for a gift with a little more dazzle, try one of these ideas:
The vice kit
They've spent nine long months just saying no, but now that the baby has arrived, new parents can ditch some of those pregnancy prohibitions. Your contribution? A gift that gives them the green light for fun. Grab a box or basket and fill it up with things the couple couldn't enjoy during the baby wait. Include champagne, wine, cigars, gourmet (fully caffeinated) coffee, a gift certificate to a local sushi restaurant, imported soft cheeses, a day at a local gym with a hot tub and sauna, lubricant, and just about anything else that will make the appreciative new parents on your list howl with laughter.
Rocking chair or glider
Babies love the soothing sensation of being rocked. Why not make the ride just as much fun for a new mom or dad? Spring for a classic wooden rocking chair or a modern glider that seems to float back and forth effortlessly. To make late-night feedings as comfortable as possible, choose one with soft cushions. For a special touch, personalize the chair with the baby's name and birth date.
Family museum membership
The baby may still be too young to enjoy the exhibits, but it won't be long before he's sitting up and taking notice of the world around him. A family membership to an art, science, or children's museum will be a welcome gift for new parents because it celebrates the fact that they are, indeed, a family now. Plus, a museum is a safe place to go with a baby in tow, and it gives new parents a great reason to get out of the house.
Even if Mom and Dad aren't runners, you can't go wrong with this rugged baby all-terrain vehicle. Most jogging strollers aren't designed for newborns who need head support, so look for one with a recline mechanism (or tell the new parents to wait until their baby is about 6 months old to use it). The thick tread on the tires makes for a smooth ride on any long walk, whether it's at the neighborhood park or a mall. Besides, it looks cool, so no one will mind taking Junior out for a stroll. Toss in some running shoes (or a gift certificate to an athletic shoe store), an iPod, or matching sweatsuits for Mom and Dad, and you've got the makings of a theme gift.
Bike trailer or baby bike seat
If Mom and Dad are biking enthusiasts, no gift will make them happier than a baby bike seat or trailer, with a helmet for the baby. Make sure the helmet comes with pads of different thicknesses to adjust to the baby's growing head. And remind the new parents to wait until their baby is at least a year old before hitting the bike trails. The child needs to be strong enough to sit up straight and hold his head steady.
Get your favorite new parents excited about the adventures of family life with a sturdy baby backpack. They can use it on day hikes, long walks on the beach, or late-night diaper runs. Besides giving the baby a great view of the world around him, it leaves his parents' hands free to open doors or grapple with the dog's leash.
New parents, especially nervous first-time moms and dads, are sure to appreciate the reassuring presence of a portable baby monitor receiver on their bedside table. These are increasingly sophisticated gadgets – some audio models can pick up a baby's faintest breaths at a range of up to 1,000 feet. If you have extra money to spend, look into a video monitor, which gives parents the added peace of mind of seeing the baby as well as hearing her.
Video and still camera
The sudden desire to record the baby's every move is a documented phenomenon of new parenthood. Make sure Mom and Dad can catch every milestone with a complete photo gear package – a digital camera or video camera (or one combining both), a certificate for a printing service, photo albums, frames, and even an extra battery to keep in the diaper bag at all times. This gift is pricey, especially if you opt for a high-quality camera, so it's best for groups and generous grandparents.
Dine-in certificates and a subscription to a movie streaming service
When the beds are still unmade at five in the afternoon and the baby's having a good end-of-the-day cry, the last thing a new mom or dad wants to do is make a meal. So give new parents what they really crave – dinner on someone else. Buy a certificate from a food delivery service or a local catering company, or purchase a certificate to their favorite restaurant that delivers. To round out your gift, include a subscription to a movie streaming service. To personalize your gift, include a list of your favorite films. The best part about a dine-in delivery or movie streaming service is that weary parents don't have to venture out to pick anything up!
Framed baby announcement
If you're in the market for a personal gift that's emotional, one-of-a-kind, and a keepsake that will last forever, look no further. A framed baby announcement will make any new parent's top ten list. If you're short on time (or not too crafty), go to the local frame store and have the announcement professionally mounted and framed. But if you've got some artistic talent, do it yourself. How? Put the announcement in a flat or deep box frame and surround it with dried flowers, ribbons, or baby booties and a miniature rattle. Either way, the result is sure to win a place of honor on the nursery wall.