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I Refuse to Get Your Baby a Gift

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Let me preface this by saying that I am not a scrooge.

woman scowling at baby

Childless Bitch: Sure, parts of the holiday season are irritating (see: parking at the mall, the red and green color combo, that overly cheery office worker who's been wearing a Santa hat since Halloween), but for the most part, I dig this time of year. I like dressing up and going to holiday parties. I like overeating and overdrinking. I like buying presents for my friends and family. What I don't like is buying a present for your baby. I'll explain.

Babies today are surrounded by squeaking and squawking shiny instruments of stimulation -- dare us childless people call those things toys. For some reason, mommies have bought into the notion that if baby Henry bangs on some plastic thing that lights up, it will trigger something in his little brain that will make him more likely to apply to law school one day. Seriously. In all honesty, Henry is probably just as happy playing with the empty box the expensive light-up thing came in as he is with the toy itself. But if I showed up at your holiday party with an empty box or a piece of Tupperware (also a baby favorite), you would probably hit me in the face with it. Am I right? Don't answer that.

I'm perfectly happy delivering presents of actual use to your baby -- like clothes or books. As a common courtesy -- and I've made this request on this blog before -- all I'd like in return is a picture of precious Kaitlynn wearing the awesome baby Uggs I just dropped a bunch of cash on. Or a casual mention that Jackson likes playing with that fuzzy dog book I got him. Maybe some of you mommies know to do this. Maybe some of my mommy friends are uncouth animals. Either way, now you know.

Look, I'm not saying babies shouldn't have toys or get presents, for that matter. I just don't want to contribute to the ignored pile of plastic light-up junk in your living room (that totally shouldn't be there -- it should be in the baby's room, by the way). It's wasteful. So I'm reaching out to you, dear mommies. Help us childless beings out in buying holiday gifts for your offspring. Be a Spice Girl and tell us what you (and baby Daisy) want, what you really, really want. After all, 'tis the season of helping others and understanding and empathy, or some junk like that.

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17 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris December 7, 2009, 5:20 AM

I completely agree with you. Both of my kids when they were little loved in play with empty boxes or beat on my pots and pans to make music. I think books are the best way to go. I loved spending time with my kids after a long day and read with them. They’re too old now and that’s a great memory are me. As far as an acknowgement of received gifts, I always took a picture of my kids wearing the outfits they received and sent it to the person who gave it to them. I love to know that when I give a gift that it is being used so I try to response the way I would want someone else to do.

maeby December 7, 2009, 6:51 AM

agreed. babies dont know any better. i’m buying my babys gifts from that used toy and clothes store down the block!

Pamala December 7, 2009, 10:37 AM

I tell family and friends to buy books or clothes. Frankly that’s easier than buying a toy in general and my child has a crap load of them anyhow. I’ll buy the toys I want her to have, because I know what I want her to have, and what I’m willing to listen to in regards to noise making.

As friends and family, just get her a book or two. She loves them. It’s easy. She’ll read anything. Just grab one off the shelf that looks pretty and she’s set.

Queen Mommy December 7, 2009, 10:41 AM

Dear Childless “Beatrice” you are not being a “beatrice” on this matter! LOL

Mommy of 5 (17 to 35) and I so agree with the wastefulness of baby toys that do anything but cover, cuddle and teach to read. The best gifts ever are clothes and books. Not the overpriced, overly ornamented trendy novelta stuff, but really practical stuff: socks, leggings, pull-on pants, long and short sleeve tshirts, velcro sneakers, pull on boots, more socks and mittens. And, if the items are a season off and one to two sizes too large, all the better!

Not only did I take pictures and send in thank you notes, these consumable items paid for themselves several times over — for you and for me! They got used daily, weekly, worn until outgrown (which is why a couple of sizes too large always works for growing kids.) LOL

The next bestest gifts ever are books. Age appropriate and again, older than the kid’s reading level. We live in a culture of communication and reading is the best method for teaching reading, analytical thinking, comprehension, problem solving and provides hours of family bonding and entertainment. Remember, parents will read a book a hundred times before the child can read it on their own. Once they start reading on their own, you have given them a gift for a lifetime!

As for the flashing lighted, garish colored plastic land mine in the living room: the parent needs to set boundaries for themselves and then the kids. Newest gadget is not a status symbol; merely shows the parent’s insecurity or laziness. Other good gifts are recycled art supplies, including newer innovations of foam cutouts, beading, cameras.

One more thing, consider your child’s aptitude and interest, not age on toy. My 6yo niece wanted to play a game with the grown-ups at Thanksgiving. We were playing Scrabble. I lifted her onto my lap, explained the basic rules of the games. She proceeded to see two word possibilities on my rack with every play! I left the game and told my brother that she was ready for the big leagues!

The best fun for kids are games and toys that are not battery operated. Make sure the gift requires brain or body to assure best results.

Cheryl December 7, 2009, 11:19 AM

I don’t know any moms that WANT you to buy toys for their kids. Everyone always says clothes or books anyway. Most children have way too many toys and whatever it is you would pick is probably a duplicate of something they have. This is a useless rant anyway. When you buy gifts, don’t you buy what you want? Don’t buy toys then.

bpeter December 7, 2009, 3:04 PM

Thats understandible but remember & dont be hurt if & when someone does it back to you & your child once you have one of course. Especially those whom you didnt care enough about to show a little respect to simply because of your own jealousy bitterness or spite & because your 10 again & taking your toys up if you dont get your way or arent on the team you want.

lachica December 7, 2009, 4:08 PM

I can agree with you to an extend, dont give kids so much toys, too much of that drives me crazy, i will appreciate clothes, books, college funds, even a kid movie,but dont ask me to take a picture and prove to you im glad for your gift, first im too busy to take pics and show to everyone that gives them something, second when you give a gift (double check the meaning gift)is suppose to be given with love and without conditions. If not don’t give it in the first place.(how far do we have to take protocol, i think weddings and funerals are enough to send a thank you note).

Elizabeth Thorp December 7, 2009, 5:41 PM

Hey Childless,

How are you? I am a fellow Momlogic blogger and mom of three little girls. I completely agree with you! Especially in this economy — we’re sticking with “family gifts” like Georgetown Cupcakes and board games. Save your money and the wasteful plastic crap that I collect from the playroom and sneak in the garbage bag twice a month…You go girl!

tennmom December 7, 2009, 6:18 PM

Both of my daughters were born in January. For our first daughter’s first Christmas, we picked out 6 age approp. gifts and were proud to not be like “those other parents” by buying more than she needed or would even notice.
My parents and brother showed up Christmas morning with lawn-sized trash bags FULL of gifts. She was so busy checking out the first dozen or so gifts, she wasn’t interested in opening others. My dad got on my last nerve by insisting on “helping” her open the other 20+ packages.
When I had my 2nd daughter 2 years later, I grabbed a dozen or so unopened gifts and set them aside for the girls’ birthdays.
I’m a fan of savings bonds or a small donation to the child’s college fund. At 9 & 11, my girls don’t need many more “things”.

Mommy December 7, 2009, 7:32 PM

I so agree with you. As a mother, I prefer my child to receive clothes and books. You can never have too much of either. Now I know how my parents felt everytime I wanted toys when we went shopping. ha!

Sarah December 7, 2009, 10:58 PM

Hmm I agree on the plastic toy idea , but as u can see most moms do. So wow, do u have a bunch of moms requesting plastic toys? Or did u think of this all on your own? If ur that upset don’t buy it.
Also , until you have your own baby you won’t understand alot of why we do what we do.
There is Soo much to do, and with a little one or ones around u can’t do it holding a baby and u can’t leave A baby alone in her room , thats why moms of youung babies have living rooms full of babytoys.
It’s not a decorating staement, sorry if it “shouldn’t ” be like that, but practical isn’t always pretty. Baby comes first When u have ur kid,
leave her in her room to play, that
way you’ll have a nice clean living
room k. Or leave her in a boring toy
less living room to stare at the wall,
that way you can have your life
without being bothered. Or better yet
stay childless I think that may work
best for you. Oh and new moms do
not have time to take pictures for u.
When you become a mother you realize the world does not revolve around you, sometimes poopy diapers and a shower get in the way of thank u cards for baby clothes, but our real friends understand.

Angel December 8, 2009, 3:00 AM

For the most part I semi-agreed with what you were saying until I got to the part about toys being in the living room. Why shouldn’t they be where the child is playing?

I think your rant kind of missed the point of the holiday season. It is to give and be thankful for what you receive (whether it’s physical or just friendship). Either you haven’t received much of the “thankful” for what you’ve given to your friends’ kids or you haven’t quite gotten down what it means to just give. A picture just for you because you gave someones child a pair of boots might not be possible but, you’re right, a simple “sonso loves the suchnsuch you bought them, thank you” would be good.

Chris December 8, 2009, 8:10 AM

The pic request is a bit much. New parents are really busy!

I keep my store low on baby toys because most people do not like to give them as gifts. The personalized baby gift (blankets, frames) sells the best. Baby clothes are surprisingly low on the gift list even though moms love receiving them.

And yes, two sizes too large is essential!

Elizabeth Ball December 8, 2009, 7:11 PM

I’m with you here sister! The marrieds get the engagement, wedding AND the baby gifts and we singles get…nothing.
I only give baby gifts to my sister and sister-in-law and my closest girlfriends.
However, the baby gift I give - a hardcover BabyStars astrology report - is for the mother about her child. I love those cute t-shirts like anyone else, but the kids have grown out of them within 3 months whereas these last for years!

Sara December 25, 2009, 12:04 PM

I truely think you may be the essence of b*tch. If you dislike children so much, and buying for them then why do it? Why even be friends with mothers if you can’t even understand WHY those toys are kept in the living room? I hope you do have kids one day, I’m sure you’ll look back on this rediculous post and feel sorry you wrote it. I get your point about the toys, and yes a baby will be happy playing with anything you give it. Mothers already know that, so, what’s your point?

Fruity March 13, 2010, 9:04 AM

If you gave my kids boxes or tupperware I would not hit you in the face. What a great idea! I always feel so guilty when my childless friends buy my kids toys, OR books and clothes! My kids have way too much of everything, not just toys and I feel really bad when I get, say, a baby Gap T-shirt that I know my baby’s going to wear once, then poop all over it and I’ll have to throw it out (true story). I buy my kids’ clothes at Salvation Army for 50 cents or rely on free hand-me-downs b/c I KNOW they’re going to ruin it and/or outgrow it after wearing it only a few times, at most. But a box? Perfect! They can play with it AND ruin it and everyone’s happy. Here’s a wish list for my kids:
6 yr old boy:
-A packet of rubber bands
-Junk mail that comes with reply envelopes with the little window in them
-A lollipop
2 yr old girl:
-A roll of toilet paper
-A juice box
6 month old boy:

Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 2:12 PM

Great article. Good to read. There’s one point to offer about tee shirts.

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