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Bringing a new child home is overwhelming — and maybe just a tad bit scary especially for first-time parents. Parents want the best for their children, but what exactly is the best? Sifting through well-meaning advice, mommy blogs and Dr. Google can be confusing. Where should parents go for practical and smart answers to the best products for new parents? The answer is so simple … your pediatrician!

Focused on children’s development and safety, pediatricians can weed through the cultural and generational trends to offer sound advice on products. Are you looking for a special gift for that baby shower you have this weekend? Or for yourself? Well, we sat down with top-notch pediatricians from Children’s of Alabama and asked them what they would recommend for a new family.

When it comes to what to give expecting parents, we turned to the experts at Children’s of Alabama for their top suggestions — as well as what to avoid.

Each doctor came to the table with a different perspective. Dr. Courtney Baxley, pediatrician at Over the Mountain Pediatrics, says that she “sees alot in her every day practice” and views “safety as the highest priority.” According to Dr. John Cortopassi of Greenvale Pediatrics Hoover, “maternal experience and input also plays a role in [his] recommendations.” While Dr. Mekeisha Pickens of Pediatrics West explains that “families sometimes hold onto misinformation from generations past, and we have to help parents think through if a product is best for the child.” Armed with education, practical experience and the child’s best interest in mind, these three physicians offered some of their top picks for new parent gifts. Take a look at what pediatricians recommend!

(Left to right): Dr. Mekeisha Pickens of Pediatrics West, Dr. John Cortopassi of Greenvale Pediatrics Hoover, and Dr. Courtney Baxley of Over the Mountain Pediatrics

Get Creative

All three doctors highly recommended any toy that encourages creative play — blocks, puzzles, kitchen sets, cars or dress up clothes. “Toys that allow free play without technology encourage imagination and support development,” says Dr. Cortopassi. He recommends simple but well-made products to provide children opportunities to play. His experience as a physician but also a grandfather allows him to see both sides. His recommendations come with his own grandkids’ stamp of approval.

Specifically for newborns, Dr. Baxley offers, “I recommend any toy with bright colors and textures, like the crinkle books as well as interactive items, like a mirror or ring sorter.” Board books are also a must for Dr. Baxley since they introduce literacy and promote quality time with parent and child.

When little ones get a bit older, a color shape sorter is a great toy to promote learning.

A collection of board books is always a winning idea. They’re durable and also promote imaginative play.

Bare Necessities

Since we are talking with medical professionals, they did offer some basics to stock the medicine cabinet. All parents should have nasal saline, a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator, a quality diaper cream with zinc oxide and a bottle of acetaminophen (but not to use until after the little one is 2 months old). Package them all in a beautiful basket of “medicine must-haves,” and you’re saving new parents from late-night drug store runs.

Bulb syringes are especially useful when Baby is too little to blow his nose. It’s a great product to include as part of a “new parent must-haves” gift basket.

Safety First

When warning parents against certain products, doctors look to the American Academy of Pediatrics for guidelines to aid their decisions. The AAP notifies the professionals about recalls, like the recent Fisher-Price recall of the Rock-n-Plays. “Items that have been well-documented as unsafe, like crib wedges and walkers, should never be used,” shares Dr. Pickens. “[But] sometimes doctors have to educate parents on what is considered safe.”

There can also be a case made for relying on technology too much for safety, says Dr. Cortopassi. For example, he says, “Monitors that include oxygen readings, while necessary for some children, often create false alarms. The unnecessary monitoring can increase maternal anxiety and wake parents up more often than needed.” Dr. Cortopassi also encourages parents to stay away from some trendy gifts like teething necklaces and loveys (before age 2) to prevent choking and suffocation. “As a parent, don’t feel bad if you regift or donate products for your child, even if it was a gift from a close family member,” adds Dr. Perkins.

Outside-the-Box Gifts

The physicians also recommended many gifts not found on a baby registry. Giving an investment to the baby’s college fund sets the parents and child up for success for his or her future. Another idea Dr. Baxley encourages gift-givers is to go in with friends and provide grocery delivery service for a few months. “You could also stock the freezer with casseroles or crockpot meals ready to go,” she says. New parents need more support than just diapers and wipes. Practical gifts for dealing with the daily tasks and investments in the future can show just how much you care for them.

Gifting a month of a grocery deliver service like Shipt can be a lifesaver for parents with a newborn.

Ultimately, this rockstar team of pediatricians recommends safe, simple and quality products for the appropriate age and stage. The latest and greatest trends will fade away, but these doctors know what is best for children. We can trust their recommendation, research and experience. When the next time rolls around for a baby gift, remember these tips from the doctors at Children’s of Alabama. You won’t have to look too hard for the perfect gift!

This article is sponsored by Children’s of Alabama. Learn more at

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