Most new parents get bombarded with armfuls of presents after their baby's arrival - babygros, bouquets, bears of the stuffed variety –. But what do new parents really want? Of course it's the thought that counts but if friends or family have just had a baby, why not give them something a little more original, and indeed useful, than yet another pair of booties?1. Meg Rivers Cakes Baby Box, £30, www.megrivers.co.uk
Mail order cake company Meg Rivers does a fab baby gift box containing 32 portions of scrumptious sweet stuff (20 shortbread biscuits and two cakes – one chocolate, one ginger). Send the new parents this and they'll have a ready stock of goodies, both for themselves and the inevitable stream of visitors coming round to meet the baby.
2. Cuddledry Towel, £24.99 for plain, £29.99 for print, www.cuddeldry.co.uk
Sumptuously soft and rather clever towels which mum, dad or whoever is in charge at bath time can fasten round their neck like an apron. This solves that 'not having enough hands to hold a towel and lift a wriggly baby out of the bath' problem and means parents get to keep their clothes dry too. And unlike most standard baby towels, Cuddledry's are large enough to last through to the toddler years. The giraffe print one shown here makes a particularly good gift.
3. Babyblooms large bouquet, £50, www.babyblooms.co.uk
Just as pretty as real flowers but far longer lasting, these bouquets are made up of newborn clothing cleverly wrapped and presented amid silk blooms. The large version in the photo includes a hat, two bodysuits, two sleepsuits and three pairs of socks and comes in blue, pink or cream. Smaller bouquets cost from £24.50.
4. Cook Gift for Two Pack A, £60, www.cook.net
Exhausted mums and dads can save on the cooking thanks to a hamper of dinners for two from posh ready meal company Cook.net. Nine microwaveable two portion packs include hearty classics such as Fisherman's Pie and Lasagne – perfect for boosting flagging parental energy levels and all with minimal cooking effort (all they need do is shove them in the microwave).
Alternatively: if you'd prefer to let them choose for themselves or want to spend less, the same company also sells gift vouchers. Or, provided you live nearby, save your cash by making some meals yourself and delivering them in person.
5. Some of your time!
Caring for a newborn is incredibly intense and if there's one thing needed more than anything else it's more hours in the day. So, what better than to give the freshly-minted mum and dad some of your time? Perhaps promise a couple of hours' cleaning their house or an evening's babysitting once their baby is settled enough to be left for a short while. Put a voucher together on your computer/ by hand or print one off for free from www.fun-vouchers.co.uk.
If you'd prefer to take something tangible round too, they'll surely appreciate a homemade hamper – how about chocolates, some food or drink the new mum couldn't safely consume during pregnancy (a mini-bottle of champagne, nice pates and soft cheeses perhaps), relaxing bath stuff and a few magazines to read while feeding?
What was the best present you received when your baby was newborn?