Baby's first gift

Alex is the first one of my friends to birth a child.

In the run-up to the delivery, I frequently experienced internal fireworks of excitement so extreme that I had to sit down.

This gift quest would be a doddle. All baby clothes look cute, all the toys are colourful or so soft that you want to rub your face on them. Plus anything in miniature is a novelty.

I was almost at the cash register of Trotters, a very nice baby store, with some tiny rabbit booties when I decided not to proceed with my purchase but to wait.

Although I loved the bunny booties, they weren't exactly Alex's taste. 

Also, after about a month, the baby wouldn't be able to wear them. Alex would probably just end up using them to polish a small mirror. One bunny bootie per finger. It would be a slow task.

Because she wanted to keep the gender of the baby a surprise, people bought her lots of grey, white and yellow gifts. She requested something colourful so I came up with a list of items:

  • mobile for the cot
  • baby crockery and cutlery
  • baby gym mat for tummy time
  • bath toys
  • wall stickers for the nursery

I decided on a Fisher Price baby gym mat with a kick piano. It's awesome.

Fisher Price piano gym | £44.99 | Argos

Fisher Price piano gym | £44.99 | Argos

Nothing like this was available when I was a baby. My mum probably just plonked me down on the floor with a Bible and some dried rice to play with and look how well I turned out!

Alex gave birth to Baby W in June and he is perfect. I have witnessed baby W on the mat. I beheld his intelligent eyes, so full of wonder and his teeny baby toes playing the notes with delicacy.

Baby W is going to be a genius with this level of stimulation.

Gift Ideas for Babies

(Visit my Pinterest board for more)

Book gifts for children

I wanted to put together a recommended reading list of books that help equip children for life.

Still not being fully equipped myself,  I asked my friends which of the books they read as a child influenced them the most and would recommend as a gift.

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame 

£10.99

Recommended by Guy: ‘I read it as a child but influenced me more as an adult than as a child. It is beautifully written, and captures a kind of England that has a great appeal. But it is also about discovery and escape - Mole finds a whole new world. Friendship, the river, picnics, Christmas, the country house, the past, freedom, spring.’

“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.” 

“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.” 

LITTLE WOMEN by Lousia May Alcott 

£7.99

Recommended by Natasha: 'Little Women was one of the first 'classics' I read when I was nine and I was hooked. That book now gives me a special connection to my mum as she was the one who suggested I read the book in the first place. It taught me the importance of family, and the importance (and difficulty) of following my dreams. I was brought up with those ideas and so the book really resonated with me. I still love the story, and parts of it still make me cry!'

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

 

A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD BY E. H. GOMBRICH

£7.19

Recommended by Grace : I read this book an adult and since then I have bought three copies to give to my little cousins as gifts. It ought to be recommended reading for every child in the world. The tone is clear without being patronising. Its aim isn't to make children feel like they ought to know names and dates. It encourages children to enjoy history, and if anything, teaches children about equality and that every culture is valuable. The book was banned by the Nazis for being too pacifistic, which is a very good sign.  

"One can be attached to one's own country without needing to insist that the rest of the world's inhabitants are worthless."

"One can be attached to one's own country without needing to insist that the rest of the world's inhabitants are worthless."

THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER by A. A. Milne

£6.99

Recommended by Ben: At the end of the House at Pooh Corner, Christopher Robin has to leave his animals at The Hundred Acre Wood and go to boarding school. It's a sermon on the impermanence and contingency of all relationships, especially in childhood. And that growing up involves loss. 

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

 

ABSOLUTELY NORMAL CHAOS by Sharon Creech

Recommended by me: A teacher gave me this book when I was ten. I started reading it at the beginning of the long summer holiday, the same point at which protagonist Mary-Lou Finney starts her diary. Absolutely Normal Chaos book contained all of the themes I sought and enjoyed in future literature: humour, the confessional, trying to do the right thing, Americana, situations which could not be resolved (and that being ok) and boys. And in a not-too-forceful way, introduces Homer, Dickens and Frost.

"But the party was the stupidest (I know there is no such word as stupidest) thing I have ever seen, with the girls all giggling in the middle of the room, and the boys all leaning against the walls...I keep forgetting to reflect on things. I will reflect on these parties. If I was a boy, I would wish they would plan something interesting, like maybe a game of basketball."

"But the party was the stupidest (I know there is no such word as stupidest) thing I have ever seen, with the girls all giggling in the middle of the room, and the boys all leaning against the walls...I keep forgetting to reflect on things. I will reflect on these parties. If I was a boy, I would wish they would plan something interesting, like maybe a game of basketball."