Baby Gifts for Any Budget: $25-$50
You want to pick out an excellent baby gift for your friend or family member who is having a baby, but how do you decide, from a myriad of options, on one that they'll actually like and use? Or maybe you're an expectant parent, daunted by the task of creating a baby registry - how do you know which products kids and parents love, and which end up sitting in a drawer, never used? As a nanny, I've had the opportunity to try out tons of baby products with a variety of kids - here are my favorites in the $25-$50 price range.
Buy these together for a fantastic gift!
Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny, Knuffle Bunny Too, and Knuffle Bunny Free
Before the sequels were written, Knuffle Bunny was one of my favorite read aloud books. Mo Willems' illustrations are FANTASTIC, merging photos and his signature pencil-drawn characters to bring the New York City landscape to life through a child's eyes. The story about a girl and her favorite stuffed animal is one pretty much any parent, child, or caregiver can relate to and love.
Then came Knuffle Bunny Too, which quickly captured my heart. Trixie, the story's heroine, is a little bit older, and with her beloved Knuffle Bunny by her side she takes on the perils and joys of preschool and early friendships.
When Knuffle Bunny Free was released, I made a special trip to the bookstore just to read it, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried when I read it. I guess when you've read the first two books aloud hundreds of times, you develop a certain kinship with the characters! Giving these three books as a set is a guaranteed way to make sure you're giving a gift that parents and kids alike will treasure for years.
I've heard it said that the single most important toy any child can have is a set of blocks. Blocks teach kids how to stack and build, allow them to use their imagination, and are indispensable when every kid goes through what I affectionately refer to as the "Destructo Phase," known by any caregiver as the time in a child's life when you can't build a tower fast enough before it gets knocked over to giggles and shrieks of delight and word we love and hate to hear - "AGAIN!" A nice set of alphabet blocks has the added benefit of being useful later in the child's development when they are learning their letters and then how to read and spell words. I would definitely recommend a set of blocks that comes with its own storage option - anything that makes cleanup time easier!
Foam blocks are also a great gift - unlike alphabet blocks, they have a variety of shapes to encourage kids to build houses, towers, buildings, villages...or whatever else their imagination prompts them to build. Foam blocks also have the built in benefit of being soft - so when little Mr. or Miss Destructo knocks over a huge tower, the parents won't have to worry as much about things getting broken or scratched.
Aden + Anais Swaddlers
If you want to get some nice baby blankets, aden + anais' swaddling blankets are the best. They're really soft, they're breathable so the baby won't overheat, and they're HUGE, so you can use them for way more than just swaddling - as an extra layer in the stroller or carseat, as a drape while nursing, as a blanket to thrown down on the floor while playing...these blankets will come in handy many times throughout each day. And to top it off they're CUTE! They come in tons of adorable yet subtle patterns.
I think a bumbo is a must-have baby item. It allows babies to "sit up" as soon as they can support their own heads because of how it supports them, making it easier to interact with family members and play with toys that are placed in front of them. For maximum usefulness, buy the tray that goes with it as well - when the baby is still young, they can have toys placed on the tray to stimulate them, and older babies who are eating finger foods can eat cheerios and the like off the tray.
A bouncy seat is another must-have item, as far as I'm concerned. There are a lot of great bouncy seats to choose from, but the best will meet these three criteria:
- It makes noise when you want it to - it plays soothing songs or makes white noise at the touch of a button.
- It has a vibrate option - trust me, some days the vibrating bouncy seat will be the one thing that keeps the parent or caregiver on this side of sanity.
- It has some sort of removable toy attachment that can be put on when the child needs something to manipulate (make sure it's detachable, though - or else when the baby is still an infant it will just get in the way).
Most parents will want to pick a seat that matches their other baby gear, but if you're looking for a recommendation, the Fisher Price Rainforest Bouncer is super cute, gender neutral, and meets all the above criteria.
Read More of the "Baby Gifts for Any Budget" Series!
Read the entire "Baby Gifts for Any Budget" series to see Kate's recommendations for baby gifts in other price ranges!
Baby Gifts for Any Budget: $200 and up (coming soon!)