Monday, January 18, 2010

Saying No to Unwanted Baby Gifts

In response to our recent post on baby toys, videos, and equipment that can interfere with relationships between parents and babies, one of our readers asked, “How do you stop people gifting you things you may not want or agree with?” This is a tough question. No one wants to disappoint loved ones who have been kind enough to bring your baby gifts. Yet, the gifts may be inappropriate for your baby's age, too loud, too big, or potentially harmful. How then, can we possibly look into friends’ or relatives’ excited eyes and tell them that we don’t want their gifts? While there's no way to make such a conversation easy, here are a few tips that might help you feel a little more comfortable.

Choose your battles. Sometimes, it is better to politely accept gifts you don't really want. If you don’t know the giver well, or you know that anything you say will be taken as an insult, it is best to quietly accept the gift. If the gift is large or expensive or given by someone you'll see often or know well, you might want to say something. You are the best judge to decide if a discussion about a gift will lead only to frustration and hurt feelings. If that is the case, it may be better to smile, say thank you, and move on.

Don’t expect people to read your mind. I know it would be much easier (sometimes) if our friends and family could read our minds. If they knew that we didn’t want certain gifts, we wouldn’t have to get into uncomfortable conversations about them. Unfortunately, unless your friends are powerful psychics, you cannot expect them to know what you want unless you tell them. You might be able to avoid receiving unwanted gifts by talking (or blogging) about what you think about the latest baby fads before the gifts start arriving. Many of your friends and relatives may be relieved that you don’t want expensive (and unecessary) things. If they ask what you really want, don't be shy; tell them.

Keep their good intentions in your mind. If you think carefully about why your friends and relatives chose their gifts for your baby, rather than the gifts themselves, you might find it easier to find the words you need to say. Your close friends and family may think that fancy gifts are necessary to express how much they love you and your baby. Acknowledge how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness then tell them about your concerns. Don't give them a lecture, talk with them. Keep your mind open to what they have to say. Make sure that they understand that your concerns about their baby gift have nothing to do with how much they are loved and valued.

If you decide to talk about the baby gift, don’t be vague. If you’ve made the decision that it is worth talking to your friend or relative about a gift, it is better to speak frankly and clearly. If you are vague, it is likely that all your effort will be for nothing. You might even find yourself having the same discussion over and over again.

Try the “sandwich” technique. If you have to say something to someone that may be uncomfortable for your both, you might want to “sandwich” the negative message between two positive messages. For example, “Aunt Hortense, thank you so much for thinking of us and bringing this [amazing baby gizmo], I know you went to a lot of trouble to get it but I have some concerns. We've heard that [these gizmos] may not be good for babies because….... Have you heard about that? I know we're so close that I can talk to you honestly about anything and I wanted you to know what I've learned.” With luck, this may start a conversation about your concerns while sending a clear message about how much you value the relationship.

We hope these tips are useful to you. We know how hard it can be to talk to those we love about difficult topics. Even in the best circumstances, you should be prepared for an unhappy initial response. If things don't go well at first, give the gift givers time to think things over. Maintain your loving respectful attitude and you’ll find that with time, most of them will come to understand your thinking.

Next time: Dealing with overenthusiastic friends and relatives who may scare your baby.


  1. Great Post.....I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  2. nice article on baby gifts. I received one of these for baby and I loved it.i really like it

  3. This article provides great- information about baby
    gifts.Babies are God's gift for any parents
    and their importance in their life is very much and specially Saying No to Unwanted Baby Gifts is a nice article i like it

  4. It nice to give a baby gift that he/she could use in a long term like towels, baby bottles, or simply baby clothes.