In the past, my friends and I used to lug mega-sized packs of diapers when we visited girlfriends who had just given birth. Diapers, we rationalised, were the perfect gift. The baby would definitely need them, right? These days, it’s a little more complicated. What if our carefree, swill-swigging, table-top dancing partner-in-crime had turned into an environmentalist mum who would only let natural — and preferably organic — fabrics come into contact with her baby’s bottom?
What do you give when your friend has a baby shower, when baby is born, or for baby’s first month celebration or her first birthday? Gifts, or ang pows (red packets)? Both? Or if it’s just the red packet, how much is enough? We asked these mums to tell us.
Aelina Senitro, 38, self employed and mum to two boys aged 10 and 1, and a girl, 8
Gifts: I think my general rule of thumb is to go by the essential items and fast forward six months’s needs. So for example, if you are going for the first month celebration and if you are giving clothes, buy a bigger size (for a seven to eight month old baby) as the parents will already have enough for the baby’s current needs. It’s the same with toys. Get those which can be used when the baby is older. For example, I received a small ride-on car when my son was one month old and it could be used for a long time. For practical reasons, gift vouchers are also good as parents can use these to buy what they need. Having a baby involves plenty of expenses so vouchers will come in handy.
Ang pows: It is difficult to put down an exact amount as it depends on your financial situation and how close you are to the other person. My range is between $50 and $150.
Best baby gift I received: The best gifts were visits to the hospital by my friends and relatives. One of my ex-colleagues actually cooked her special pig trotters one week in advance for me! I also love receiving vouchers best as this gives me flexibility to buy what’s needed.
Su-yen, 38, fund controller and mum to a boy, 5, and a girl, 1
Gifts: For a baby shower, I’d give the mum pre- and post-natal massage vouchers. For baby’s first month celebration, a baby sling or carrier. For baby’s first birthday, baby walking shoes? And for baby’s baptism, a baby bible/devotional. These were the things that I felt were very useful for myself!
Ang pows: For good friends, $100. For relatives, $50. For acquaintances and colleagues, $50 as well. These seem to be comfortable appropriate sums.
Best baby gift I received: A baby carrier! I’m a sling supporter, from the Moms In Mind sarong sling to the Baby Bjorn carrier and now my trusty Ergo!
Shao Jun, 36, writer and editor, mum to a girl aged 2
Gifts: For a baby shower, I’d give a baby carrier. It is practical and it promotes bonding. For baby’s first month celebration, a hand blender. Mum needs all the help she can get and I think this tool is one the easiest way to make healthy, pureed food in the coming months. For baby’s first birthday — a stack of board books to promote learning. For baby’s baptism — a personalised plate with baby’s name to commemorate the special occasion.
Ang pows: From $60 for acquaintances and colleagues to $100 for good friends and relatives.
Best baby gift I received: A Graco Pack-N-Play. We use it every time we travel!
Jann Ng, 42, entrepreneur and mum to a girl, 12, and a boy, 8
Gifts: For a baby shower — a breast milk pump or a bottle steriliser. For baby’s first month celebration — a baby food maker for making puree and/or a hamper with chicken essence and tonics for mummy. For baby’s first birthday — baby’s clothings and/or infant toys. For baby’s baptism — a Christian book on parenting.
Ang pows: From $20 for home celebrations to $40 for hotel celebrations to $100 for good friends or up to $200 for good friends with financial difficulties.
Best baby gift I received: A baby Cot. It’s a necessity and it lasted for few years.
Charlene Lim, 36, moderator and mum to a girl, 5, and a boy, 3
Gifts: I’d give a diaper cake for the baby shower. Babies need lots of diapers! Clothes for baby’s first month as they outgrow their clothes really fast. By the first birthday, babies are keen explorers so I’d buy him or her some toys that help with development. For baptism, a pretty photo frame to put the baptism photos in!
Ang pows: Good friends and relatives get $80-$100, acquaintances and colleagues get $60.
Best baby gift I received: My kids’ name cross-stitched by a close friend. The fact that this was handmade made it more meaningful.
Wendy Chew, 31, founder of My Little Shoppers and mum to a girl aged 3
Gifts: The best gift for baby shower means getting the new mom something useful. It could be diapers, cartons of baby wipes, baby toys like a playmat or a cot mobile. If she is not a first-time mum, she might already have clothes and activity gyms. So it would be good to check with the recipient. When buying gifts for baby’s first birthday, consider getting gifts that increase the development of their fine motor skills and language. Gifts like shape sorters, stackers, ride-on vehicles and walkers are very popular among parents. Baptism is the first big day for a baby since birth and it signifies a religious commitment. This is a very special event for those who practice Christianity.You can get a Baby’s First Bible or a little blanket embroidered with the baby’s name and baptism date.
Ang pows: Usually the ang pow rates vary between very good friends and acquaintances. It is always good to give ang pow if you are unsure what gifts to buy. Usually it ranges from $18 to $100. It depends as well if the parents are hosting a buffet celebration. Do give enough to cover the buffet.
Best baby gift I received: The best baby gift I received was a handmade bunny stuffed toy. It was made by my colleague in the United States. She sewed it all by herself and shipped it when my daughter, who was born in the year of the rabbit!
Agnes Ng, 34, Principal and mum to two children aged 3 and 5 years
Gifts: For a baby shower — Presents to pamper the mummy eg. a massage package. For baby’s first month celebration and baby’s first birthday — Educational toys. For baby’s baptism — bible story books.
Ang pows: From $50 for acquaintances / colleagues to $100 for good friends and relatives.
Best baby gift I received: A Combi baby chair with wheels. It was useful and durable. Because it was mobile, I could move it around the house when doing household chores. My baby could lie down in it to sleep, or sit up in it to have a meal.