- Family and Parenting
Baby Gifts for Any Budget: Under $25
Picking out a baby gift for a friend or family member can be a daunting task. If you have kids of your own, you probably have a few staple items you love to give to other parents. But if you aren't a parent yourself, how do you know what to pick? If you're on a budget, it can be even harder - how do you buy something nice without breaking the bank? How do you know that you're buying something the parents and child will actually get use out of, that won't just take up space?
One of the great things about having been a nanny for a variety of families has been having the opportunity to "test drive" a lot of different products for kids - toys, clothes, furniture, strollers, baby carriers, diapers...if you name a baby product, I probably have an opinion about it! If you're scratching your head over what to buy a new or expectant parent - or if you are an expectant parent, wondering what to register for - here are some of my top picks.
The Baby Whoozit
From Manhattan Toys, this baby toy is popular for a reason - its bright colors make it attractive babies, its soft body makes it easy for babies to grasp, and its tentacle-like appendages are fun to interact with. It will be one of the first toys a baby is able to interact with, and one they'll continue to enjoy for months. It has great textures and sounds for the baby to discover, and it's small and lightweight, so it's easy to pack in the diaper bag for any outing.
Sassy Rattles and Teethers
Sassy toys are also loved by babies for their brightly colored designs and easy-to-grasp shapes. Their harder plastic designs make them excellent for the early stages of teething. This gift set includes rattles and teethers with a variety of textures, each of which offers the baby a slightly different sensory experience.
The Mozart Magic Cube
I'm always wary of buying kids' toys that make sounds - anyone who has heard a child play with the same noise-making toy for an entire day straight knows where I am coming from here! But I make an exception for the Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube. This toy is really fantastic - it plays eight different Mozart songs and allows the child (or, erm, the adult) who is playing with it to break each song down into single instrument tracks to see what each one sounds like alone, to combine various instruments together and see how the song builds, and to hear the song with each of the five instruments playing together. It's a simple and, I think, ingenious way to teach kids about how music works without offering any complicated lessons, and the variety of songs as well as different ways to play them makes the toy at least somewhat less annoying than most other noise-producing toys. I think this is a must-have for the child of any music-loving parents!
Adding to a child's collection of books is an inexpensive yet very meaningful way to give a great baby gift. You could give a book that was a favorite of yours as a child, or check out some of my suggestions below!
First 100 Animals
Roger Priddy's First 100 Animals board book is tons of fun for little ones when they are first learning words. The photographs are fantastic and fun to look at, and though the book is simple (pictures and names of animals only), the fact that it has 100 different animals means it keeps kids interested for a while. Parents can mix it up by telling their child something about each animal, or, when kids start learning to identify objects, asking their child to find the (dog, sheep, monkey, ladybug, etc).
Anything by Sandra Boynton
I'm a huge fan of Sandra Boynton - you can find out why I love her and which books I recommend here.
Mike Mulligan and More
The classic stories of Virginia Lee Burton have been loved by children for decades. I loved them so much as a child that this was the first gift I bought when my sister-in-law was expecting my first nephew! The treasury includes four stories: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, Maybelle the Cable Car, and my personal favorite, Katy and the Big Snow. If you're unfamiliar with Burton's works, be assured that these lovely tales and captivating illustrations make for stories that parents love as much as children. If you are familiar with Burton's books, well, I probably don't need to convince you that this is an excellent gift!
Eric Carle's Very Little Library
Another great literary collection is Eric Carle's Very Little Library, which includes The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Lonely Firefly (my favorite of the three), and The Very Busy Spider. Eric Carle is simply one of the best children's illustrators of all time, and you really can't go wrong with any of his books.
When it comes to buying baby clothes as a gift, there are a few things that most new parents will tell you you can never have enough of - onesies and sleepers. I recommend sticking to the basics if you want your gift to get a lot of mileage.
New parents are often given a lot of baby clothes in the smallest sizes - and it's easy to understand why, because when it comes to baby clothes, the smaller it is, the cuter it is! For a gift that they'll really appreciate, skip right past the newborn, 0-3 month, and 3-6 month sizes and go for the 6-9 or 9-12 month sizes - these are the things they'll receive the least of as gifts. Keep in mind the time of year the baby is going to be born in - even though kids often end up wearing sizes that don't correspond to their age, it's better not to risk buying a cute fleece jacket in size 6-9 months for a baby being born in November! I recommend onesies, because no matter what time of year the child ends up wearing that size, they're useful - in the winter as a base layer under other clothes, and in the summer as an outfit by itself.
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!)