Baby stores provide long lists of must-haves for newborns. But if you're selecting the essentials for a toddler or young child you're adopting, planning your wish list can be tricky. Here's how to figure it out.
Ask another mother for help. If you know someone who has a child about the same age as yours will be, find out which items she finds indispensable, and which things her child has already outgrown. For instance, many new mothers request a swing to soothe the baby, but if your child will be eight months old by the time he arrives home, he may be too big to use it.
Err on the side of "too old." If your child could be within a range of ages, aim for things that will suit her at the upper age limits. That way, you can be sure that you'll be able to make use of every gift at some point '- even if it's not right at the time of arrival. (It may not seem like it at the moment, but, eventually, that eight-month-old will be ready to try the training toilet.)
Be careful with clothing. It's hard to resist the temptation of adorable baby overalls or sneakers. But unless you know exactly what size your son or daughter will wear (or your friends are hosting a post-placement shower), you may want to limit the amount of clothing you get. If you just can't stop that future grandmother from buying a cute little set of pajamas, ask that any gifts of clothing be as seasonless as possible (perhaps a pair of jeans or a lightweight sweater) and in the larger range of what might fit your child '- preferably from a store with a liberal return policy. Better yet, guests could be encouraged to purchase gift cards, instead, so that you're all set to go on a fashion shopping spree when your child comes home.
Consider themed gifts. If you're unsure what age your child will be '- or you know only that your child will be beyond crib-and-stroller age '- your hosts may want to create a themed gift shower. A book shower will stock your shelves with all the picture books and parenting texts you need to get you through the early years; an education-themed shower for an older child can feature educational toys, essential school gear '- or even contributions toward his college tuition. Now that's a gift every parent will love!
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