I came across Taro Gomi’s beautiful board book My Friends at the Academy of Sciences playroom one day last year and immediately went home and ordered a copy for Astrid.

The illustrations are gorgeous and not at all the usual toddler fare: bright and detailed but lovely and calming too. Now we read Spring Is Here over breakfast every day. This boxed set, which also includes Bus Stops, is a perfect first or second birthday gift for the toddler in your life. (Or it makes a great new baby gift if you want to get started early!)

With Taro Gomi, you can be certain you’re giving little Aloyscious something unique and visually inspiring. We all love our Dr. Seuss but you don’t want your Green Eggs and Ham to be the fifth one he receives!

Taro Gomi Board Book Boxed Set, $19.99 at Chronicle Books.com$14 at Amazon or offline at Chronicle’s gorgeous new store in the Metreon

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Dwell Studio for Target

March 21, 2012

If you’re on a budget but are high-design minded and need something for a friend’s baby, gather your patience (or your willingness to pay shipping costs) and head to Target to collect an item or two from their Dwell Studio for Target line.

Let me say up front that I do not understand what Dwell or Target were thinking when they came up with the plan to make these high-quality products in cool patterns and then not distribute them consistently so anyone would be able to get them. Ridiculous.

On any given day, at any given Target, it’s almost impossible to find the Dwell Studio line on the shelves or racks. But you can order them. And you should, because they’re great. And that in-store scarcity means you will look like a genius for finding something unique + the baby will look hip because no one else at Mommy & Me will have what he’s wearing.

(The online stock is sometimes poor too – I keep thinking they’re discontinuing it – but it’s worth five minutes of sifting through the brief search results for “DwellStudio” on Target.com to see if they have a color you like. Their infant clothes are also great, if you can find them and want to skip layette in favor of clothing.)

My three recommendations are

  • The double-layer jersey baby blanket, which comes in great boy or girl patterns and is heavyweight enough that Mom will thank you for giving her a real, can-use-it-on-the-floor play blanket. (That said, I don’t love the new blue blanket pattern – but they change it every once in a while, so check back. Or maybe you’ll like the one they have – what do I know??)
  • The double-layer jersey sleep sack, also in boy or girl colors. Again, many thanks from Mom for providing an all-cotton but still warm sleep sack to supplement all the muslin and fleece ones everyone else gave her.
  • The adorable heavyweight cotton kimono pajamas which wash so, so well and keep baby warmer than all the others.
Get it together, Target! We like this line. So make more and just own it already.

Newborn Girls’ DwellStudio for Target Pink Blanket. Or blue. $12.99 at Target.com

DwellStudio for Target Wearble Blanket (read: sleep sack) in pink stripes (0-6 months only). Blue n/a at time of publication. $12.99 at Target.com

DwellStudio for Target Kimono Sleeper for Girls or Boys, about $8 at Target.com or in stores

Some new parents will keep a baby book recording all their new child’s milestones and footprints and height and the like. Others will not – and that baby book they got at their baby shower will just glare at them judgmentally from the shelf of their child’s room, reminding them that they are not organized or crafty or just plain into it enough to fill it up with mementos and notes. These cards are the guilt-free answer.

They’re single letterpress cards, one for each milestone, that can be filled out in about two seconds but still make lovely mementos of early childhood’s big moments. Buy singles or a set. They’re a great additional small gift for a shower or a little something to send along to mark the child’s birth. The parents will love you for making an often guilt-laden process so much easier but still appealing.

(If you’re really into simplifying the memento thing so that kiddo doesn’t take them to task later for not being Martha Stewart, send the cards with little frames for easy display or in a pretty memory box that mom and dad can add to as they go.)

Cards available singly from Double Bravo Designs at Etsy.com for $3.75 each (First Word, First Steps, Blew First Kiss, Slept Through the Night, Snacking On Your Own)

Carter’s cute patterned bodysuits are the perfect quickie gift for

a.) a baby shower gift basket,

b.) a newborn as a little extra, “Welcome to the world!”, or

c.)  a not-close-but-I-still-like-you friend or co-worker who just had a baby.

That last category can be tough because you don’t want to spend a ton of time or a lot of money finding a small, useful-but-cute present. A friend of a friend whom we don’t see very often sweetly sent Astrid a pack of these when she was tiny and it was the perfect, “Hey! We’re thinking about you! Congratulations!” small gift.

They come in packs of three or four and I’d recommend the subtler patterned ones, since they’re cute but not tacky and suit any taste. For God’s sake, don’t get the ones that say “MOMMY” in giant magenta letters on them. Just don’t.

If you want to spend a little more, get one pack of patterns and add in a four-pack of the plain white long-sleeved ones: there is no parent who does not need more white onesies. Also: be kind and order the 3 or 6 month size. (Newborns can’t wear bodysuits until their belly button heals and babies grow so fast, they grow out of the Newborn size before you know it.)

Target has the widest selection of patterns but inconsistent in-store stock. If you’re going anyway, get them there. Or order online. Macy’s carries them in-store for the lowest price but they also have limited stock in the patterns. (Inexplicably, Carters.com doesn’t carry nearly as many patterns as Target does and Amazon is a total loss and usually sends you to Target.com anyway.)

Carter’s 4-pack short-sleeved bodysuits with little tiny elephants, stripes, etc. in brown, pink, or blue, $9 at Target