Baby Gifts for Any Budget: $50-$100
Your friend or family member is having a baby, and you want to get them a great gift - something they'll get a lot of use out of, that they'll really appreciate, that they'll LOVE! But what do you get? If you're looking to spend between $50-$100 on a gift, you have a couple of options - you could buy a few smaller gifts that add up to fit in your price range, or you could buy one nicer item, like a really nice toy or a bigger piece of baby gear.
Having worked as a nanny for several families, I've had the opportunity to test drive a lot of great (and not-so-great) baby products. Here are my recommendations for great products in the $50-$100 price range.
Play mats or "gyms" as they are commonly called are one of the most useful items to parents of a newborn. Gyms have a soft mat that the baby can lie on and have objects that the baby can interact with over their heads when lying on their backs, as well as on the mat when they're having tummy time. A good play gym should have a variety of textures on the mat to stimulate baby's sense of touch, and should have removable toys that attach to the overhead arcs. Bright, primary colors are usually recommended for babies, and bonus points are given to any gym that has lights and music incorporated into it, as these are great ways to grab babies' attention and keep them happy, even with their relatively short attention spans!
Most parents will want to pick out a play gym that matches their other baby gear, so for the sake of consistency, I've recommended the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies and Lights Deluxe Gym, which matches my recommended bouncy seat and jumper (see below). The Fisher Price Rainforest series of baby gear has great colors, fun animals, and is gender-neutral, which is an added benefit for first-time parents who may be thinking of having more kids.
The jumperoo won't come in handy right away, as babies will need to be able to support their head and upper body before they can enjoy using it, but once they start using it, it will get tons of use! The Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo is adorable, lots of fun, and has a lot of great features. (And it matches the other products I recommend!) When the baby sits in the padded, rotating seat, toys surround her and hang overhead, inviting her to explore a variety of sights, sounds, and textures - and when she gets excited by them, she bounces and jumps with delight! A jumperoo is a great way to get babies moving and expending energy before they are able to crawl or walk, even though they are staying in one place.
The jumperoo is great because unlike other jumping gear for babies, it doesn't require that you hook it up to the doorway, so it can be used in any room of the house. It can be set at three different heights, so it grows along with the baby (it's recommended for use up to 25 lbs). It also folds easily for storage or taking along on trips.
If you really want to give the new parents a fantastic gift, purchase some batteries to go with it, and with all the other battery-operated gear they'll be getting. First time parents especially will appreciate the gesture, as one thing they often aren't prepared for is the fact that babies go through batteries almost as fast as they go through diapers and wipes!
When it comes to buying great baby toys, sometimes simplicity is key. The Haba Jumbo Peg Board is a classic - beautiful, sturdy, and filled with unexpected developmental benefits! While it won't be used until the baby is a little bit older, its bright colors will mean it will be a toy that parents will proudly display in the baby's room until he is old enough to use it. The size- and color- variant pegs allow small children to start learning how to sort, and grasping the pegs and placing them in their slots is a great activity for developing fine motor skills. The toy is extremely high quality and will get use for years, and can easily be passed along to other children in the family. If you want to get a lot for your money by purchasing a toy that will really last, this is a sure bet.
This is a great gift for the child of musician parents. (Steer clear of it for parents who don't usually have music on in the house and who really value peace and quiet!) Toy instruments are a great way to instill an appreciation for music in young children, and playing on their very own "real" piano gives them confidence in expressing themselves creatively. I like the Boikido "My Piano" because it's whimsically painted in cheerful colors and has the names of the notes painted above the keys, so it can be used into childhood for early music lessons.
If you want to give a great gift of baby clothes, consider giving a gift set with all the essentials parents need for a newborn. You can either go to the store and pick out a "set" piecemeal (include some onesies, footed sleepers, bibs, washcloths, etc) or purchase a pre-packaged gift set. I like this one because I'm a big fan of Carter's brand baby clothes. Gender neutral clothing in a yellow or green is always a great gift even if the parents know the gender of their child, because if they plan on having more kids, you know the clothes can be handed down no matter what!
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!)