For Baby's First Christmas: A Lump of Coal? Ten Baby Gifts to Avoid This Holiday Season

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What could be worse than a lump of coal in baby's first Christmas stocking? Quite a few things. Here's how to avoid ten gift disasters for baby's first Christmas.

What could be worse than a lump of coal in baby's first Christmas stocking? Quite a few things, according to Stephanie Gallagher, author of "The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years" and Editor of The Shopping Mom's Guide to Baby Gifts ( web site.

Here's her list of the top ten worst gifts for baby's first Christmas:

1. Frilly, Impractical, "High-Maintenance" Baby Clothes

You know the outfits: They're oh-so-cute, yet oh-so-impractical. They have buttons instead of snaps. Or they have no snaps in the legs. Or they snap up the back, rather than the front, turning diaper-changing into a gymnastics exercise for the parents. Or worse yet, they're dry clean only.

"Unfortunately, these kind of baby clothes are very popular gifts among grandparents, because they're usually cute, dressy outfits," Gallagher says. "The problem is the parents will never use them. Think about it: What new mom has time to take her baby's clothes to the dry cleaners every time he spits up?"

2. Wipe Warmer

Not only do wipe warmers cause wipes to dry out and get discolored, they're often more uncomfortable for babies than cold wipes.

"Babies are much more sensitive to heat than we are," Gallagher says. "They don't want anything too hot touching their skin, whether it's a warmed wipe or hot bath water."

3. Any Baby Product With More Than 10 Pieces That Must Be Put Together

Ever see a new parent on Christmas day? You know why they look so tired? Because they spent the previous 12 hours putting together a single baby toy that promised to be "easy to assemble."

"If you see the words, 'Assembly Required' anywhere on the packaging, that is not a gift you want to give for baby's first Christmas," Gallagher advises. "Or, if you're absolutely in love with a particular toy or baby product that requires assembly, put it together yourself before you give the gift.

The new parents will appreciate your efforts as much as the baby gift itself."

4. Baby Bouncy

This stabilized exercise ball, which retails for $39.95, is supposed to calm a colicky baby and help the mother "exercise her core" at the same time.

"I have yet to meet a mother who's been able to accomplish anything while trying to soothe her colicky baby," Gallagher says. "Yes, babies do like to be bounced, but they typically enjoy a motion that requires the parent to be on his or her feet, not sitting down."

What's more, there are cheaper bouncing alternatives that last much longer, such as the Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker, which goes from birth to 40 pounds.

5. Baby Walker

Each year, some 8,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms because of injuries related to baby walkers. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for the sale of baby walkers to be banned in the United States. They are simply unsafe.

"That should be reason enough to skip the walker for baby's first Christmas. But if it isn't, consider this: Baby walkers do not help children walk sooner. In fact, they can delay walking," Gallagher says.

6. Cradle

Another beautiful, but impractical, baby gift, cradles are unsafe because the rocking can cause baby to turn over and suffocate.

7. Newborn Clothes

Even if the baby was born last week, newborn clothes are a baby Christmas gift "Don't," according to Gallagher.

There reasons are simple: 1) The parents probably already got oodles of newborn outfits at the baby shower, and 2) babies typically grow out of newborn clothes within a few weeks.

A better bet: 3-6 month clothes.

8. Baby Shoes

Pediatricians recommend that babies go barefoot or with socks until they're actually walking, making baby shoes unnecessary. Some doctors even say baby shoes can interfere with proper gross motor development.

9. "Hot Button Baby Christmas Gifts"

These are products the parents will only use if they subscribe to one particular parenting theory or style.

For example, books like "On Becoming Baby Wise" by Gary Ezzo and "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems," by Richard Ferber, are "hot button baby gifts," because parents tend to either strongly agree or strongly disagree with these theories.

So are things like breast pumps and nursing pillows (unless you're absolutely sure the new mom is nursing), and bottles and bottle accessories (again, unless you know for certain the parents are using them).

10. Incomplete Gifts

"Don't make your recipients work to enjoy your gifts," Gallagher says. If the recipient has to buy something else in order to use the gift, it's a loser.

"For example, I once got a bottle sterilizer as a gift," Gallagher says. "The problem was only one type of bottle fit in it, and that wasn't the brand I was using."

Likewise, a Boppy (special nursing pillow) is a great gift. But the Bare-Naked Boppy is not, because you have to buy a slipcover for it, which costs almost as much as the original gift.

"Most people expect to have to buy batteries for toys and baby gear, but including them is one of the most thoughtful things you can do to make your Christmas gift for baby special," Gallagher adds.

For more holiday baby gifts that are sure to please, check out The Shopping Mom's Guide to Baby Gifts at


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Stephanie Gallagher