Dodging Pink & Blue: How to Avoid Gendered Baby Gifts

People love to put babies in categories based on their assigned sex at birth. From clothes to toys to art for the nursery, if people have a chance to buy you something gendered for your new baby, they will. In this post, we’ll talk about ways to avoid receiving gendered gifts for your baby, both before and after they’re born.

Before Baby’s Birth

There are several ways to find out your baby’s biological sex before they arrive: ultrasound (most reliable at 18 to 20 weeks), fetal DNA testing, amniocentesis, and chorionic villus sampling. Ultrasound is probably the most common, although with the rise of DNA testing, it’s possible that you’ll be offered both. DNA testing, amniocentesis, and chorionic villus sampling are all very reliable. Ultrasound is as well, but there is a slightly higher chance of a case of mistaken genitalia—in every other method, biological sex is determined by chromosomes, which is harder to mix up.

If you don’t want to receive gendered gifts—or, let’s face it, receive fewer of them—you have a few choices. First, you could find out the sex of your baby using one of these methods (fetal DNA testing happens as early as eight or nine weeks pregnant), and not tell anyone. Second, you could also be surprised by baby’s sex at birth. Finally, you could tell people not to get you gendered gifts—although, many people just can’t help themselves when faced with adorable, gendered baby clothes and will buy them for you anyway.

Not finding out if you’re having a boy or girl—sometimes known as being on Team Green, as opposed to Team Blue or Pink—can be super fun. My spouse and I were Team Green with both our kids, and it was really lovely for him to get to announce whether our baby was a boy or girl right after they were born. An added bonus is that we didn’t get a lot of gendered baby gifts before baby. Most things that we got before the babies were born were gender-neutral: lots of lovely yellow, green, and grey pajamas, blankets, lovies, and onesies.

If you choose to find out, but don’t tell anyone, it could be great. You and your partner would have a shared secret, and you’d still avoid most of the pre-birth gendered gifts. At the same time, it can sometimes be tricky not to accidentally spill the beans, especially to people you speak with often. And once baby starts to move around in your uterus, it’s hard not to think about them as a person of a certain biological sex if you know what it is, meaning it’s much easier to slip up and accidentally toss out a pronoun that reveals baby’s sex.

After Baby’s Birth

 It can be even tougher to keep the gifts gender-neutral after baby is born. You could always go the route of not announcing baby’s sex, and instead waiting for them to let you know their gender when they’re old enough to perceive and share it. If you use neutral pronouns like they/them, no one will be the wiser.

Another option after baby’s birth is to have a heartfelt conversation with the gift-buyers in your life. Let them know that you’d prefer that gifts for baby not be overly gendered. You can give any reason or no reason at all and just ask that people respect your wishes. If you want to give a reason, here are a few ideas:

  • You’d like the option to reuse baby things for another baby. (Grandparents should respect this one if they want more grandchildren in the future!)
  • You prefer not to put restrictions or limits on your child’s clothes, toys, or accessories based on their perceived gender.
  • Colors are for everyone. Pink, blue, purple, green, yellow—who cares?
  • Colors are beautiful and babies look great in all the shades.

Regardless of what you decide to do (or not do) to avoid gendered baby gifts, remember that you don’t have to use them. If you’d prefer to pass the gift along after you’ve graciously received it, that is up to you. Thank the giver and move on, donating the item or giving it away to someone who would enjoy it.

Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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