Giving a baby a birthday gift has been a Western tradition for generations, but baby showers didn't become popular until the Baby Boom of the 1940s and 1950s. It is important that you uphold gift-giving etiquette when giving a friend or relative a baby gift.
It has become popularfor a mother to register on a baby website or at a store, the same way a bride and groom register for gifts. If you're a new mother, it is perfectly polite to do so. When giving a gift to a new mom, you can choose to buy a gift from the registry or to strike out on your own. Either is perfectly acceptable. If you decide to buy "off of the registry", then opting for a gender-specific, personalized baby blanket is a good bet.
If you've been invited to a baby shower and cannot attend, gift-giving expert Leah Ingram says you're not required to then give something to the mother-to-be. A no RSVP usually means "no gift," but you can send one later if you would like.
Leah Ingram states that it is perfectly okay for you to give parents money in lieu of a baby gift. If you're a parent, it is not polite to request money for your child or for her college fund. If you like, you can request that relatives and friends give a donation in your child's name to a good cause in lieu of a gift. Instead of writing your request on an invitation, Leah Ingram suggests that you slip a card in the invitation about your cause and what a donation will do to help the recipients.
Before buying a doll or stuffed animal, talk to the parents about what they already have. It is perfectly acceptable to buy items that aren't listed on the parents' registry, but you don't want to stick the parents with a plethora of stuffed animals that look exactly alike--especially if it turns out that that is all the child receives. If you'd like to do something a little more creative, RedEnvelope offers a baby gift basket with a stuffed animal and baby necessities such as booties, caps, onesies, receiving cloths, washcloths and hangers.
Thank You Notes
If you're receiving baby gifts, you must send out thank-you cards. Although many may see this as an outdated custom, some consider it impolite not to do so. Keep a small notebook with the names and gifts each person has given you to make it easier.