To the untrained eye, all babies look the same and so do their products; from onesies to bottles and beyond.

But the truth is that there are countless variables when it comes to these products; from gender, to material, to age range, to colour and design, and right down to the tiniest detail like how much liquid flows from the end of a bottle.

What’s more, every parent’s taste and preferences are individual, plus you don’t know what somebody else has bought them or if they have too much or too little of any one product. (They might be inundated with onesies, for instance.)

Add to that the problem of babies growing at an astounding rate and the seasonal nature of clothes, and the process gets even more complicated.

Don’t panic! We’ve put together some guidelines for buying little bundles for your friend or relative’s little bundle.

General Advice

Here are some rules of thumb for buying baby clothes: If in doubt, buy a big size; as mentioned, they grow at an astonishing pace, so it’s no harm at all to give a garment for three-month-olds to parents of a new-born.

Look for soft fabrics, clothes that are easy to remove (babies have more outfit changes in a day than a Beyoncé concert!) and that are elasticated instead of dependent on belts and buttons.

It’s also important to avoid choking hazards: Most modern clothes don’t have removable bows and badges, for instance, but older clothes or ones made by smaller manufacturers still do.

If you’re Getting Specific

Generally, the smaller a child, the more paraphernalia they’ll need. Parents will have to accumulate a lot of gear for keeping their child comfortable and safe in those precarious first few months, and they’ll be grateful for a dig out with a practical gift.

They are guaranteed to need a Moses Basket, a buggy and a cot, for example.

Some people prefer to give a surprise gift, but if you are getting them a specific item (which they’ll only need one of) just check with them or a close relative to make sure that they didn’t already buy or receive it.

If Cash is King

Obviously cash is the most versatile gift, but it’s also the most impersonal. Gift vouchers say that you care, and give new parents a chance to buy the baby gift of their choice. Also, you can decide on the amount you want to spend, from €25 all the way up to €1,000.

If you want an All-Rounder

Another versatile choice is to gather a mix of practical with the fun in a collection of small gifts – a sort of supermarket-sweep of small and medium size baby gifts.

Some like to browse through gifts in store or online, and again, it can be as modest or extravagant as you choose. Hampers are available for different genders, and with inclusions and exclusions decided upon with a simple click.

If you don’t know the gender

It’s advisable to try to discover the gender, but if you can’t, there are still plenty of options.

Accessories should be gender neutral, in our opinion. Yes, a cute pink changing bag will look nice if the mother is taking the little girl out for coffee; but dads will be helping out too! So take into account what either parent might like.

For instance, a saddle bag in turquoise look just as at home whether mum is meeting friends for coffee or dad is at the pub for lunch.

Gender neutral colours would include green, orange, brown and cream (like this bumper set). 

And finally…

Remember to have fun with baby gift shopping, and if possible, give yourself plenty of time (buying online will also buy you time, if it’s in short supply).

Try to imagine the baby with the gift, whether they’re safe and sound with the right equipment, wearing their adorable new clothes or playing with their first ever toy.

Buying a baby gift is not just for the parents – it’s the first favour you’ll do for a brand new little friend.