The Best Baby Shower Gifts for under $50

One of my best friends is having a baby this spring! I can’t wait to hold a baby again soon (and then hand it back – no baby-crazy feelings here, my kiddos keep me busy enough!). Attending her baby shower made me think about things I thought I needed before my babies were born. My registry was pretty typical but I really didn’t have much first hand experience so I just put everything anyone told me on there. Now as the mother of 2 toddlers I know a lot more about what you need and what you don’t.

A Little Help From My Friends

Since it has been awhile since my last baby shower, I reached out to my local mom group on Facebook. They helped me create a current list of what they used the most, and what was a waste of money. Side note, choose your internet mom groups wisely. Some are crazy, and that isn’t what you need when you are searching online for advice.  Some (like mine) are helpful and supportive.  Bonus points if they organize happy hours.

When I do financial plans or budgets for clients, I always keep one thing in mind. If something doesn’t make you happy or make you money it might not be worth it. Let’s use that logic when it comes to baby shower shopping: if it doesn’t help them sleep, keep them alive or make someone happy you shouldn’t buy it. All of the gifts that made the list will do one or more of these three thing.

Go The $%^& To Sleep

I love my children, but they have always been total jerks when it comes to sleeping. They didn’t sleep through the night until some point after age 2 and they’ll still wake us up for things like chapstick or water is inches away from their hands. The first time my son slept until 6 am I was holding a mirror in front of his mouth to make sure he was still alive. Spending money isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I forked over hundreds on books, gear and consultations just to get more sleep.

Be a good friend and try gifting your mom-to-be buddy one of these sleep solutions:

Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, Pink
* I didn’t find this until late in the game but it would have come in handy with my son who despised laying flat on his back to sleep. Deluxe versions are available for around $75 that have extra padding and “smart” features.
Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine, White
HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle, Cream, Small
Magnificent Baby Magnetic Baby Footie Once Upon a Time 0 – 3 Months
Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original, Gray, Small, 6.5-13 lbs.
* I like these three because swaddling a doll is much easier than swaddling an angry baby after a 2 am diaper blowout. Magnets and zippers are your friends!
Do Not Ring or Knock Baby is Sleeping Leave Packages by the Front Door Plastic Door Knob Hanger Sign
* Worth the $7 to keep the UPS driver from interrupting a nap – they will be visiting often trust me!
Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother
* This one is my top pick in this category. Both my kids loved this and my daughter still uses it to fall back to sleep (she’s almost 4 and it still working)

The Doctor Will See You…Tomorrow

So one thing I’ve noticed when it comes to kids is that they get sick at really bad times.  Weekends or the middle of the night seem to be popular.  While not every medical emergency can be handled on your own there are plenty of things parents can do on their own to help their baby feel better.  Most will require a trip to the drugstore unless you have a wonderful friend who put together a “first aid” care package for you.  Besides, no one wants to to bundle up their sick baby to head out to a store.  Your friend may not need it right away but one day they will and they will love you for it!

If you prefer function over style – create a medical kit from this list!

Crane USA Humidifier, Cool Mist, White
Boogie Wipes 30 Count/Pack of 6, Soft Natural Saline Wet Tissues for Baby and Kids Sensitive Nose, Hand and Face with Moisturizing Aloe, Chamomile and Vitamin E, Fresh Scent
Advil Infants’ Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever Dye-Free, 50mg Ibuprofen Concentrated Drops, White Grape Flavor 0.5 ounce- 2 count
Infants’ Tylenol Oral Suspension, Fever Reducer and Pain Reliever, Grape, 2 fl oz (Pack May Vary)
Baltic Amber Teething Necklace For Babies (Unisex) (Cognac) – Anti Flammatory, Drooling & Teething Pain Reduce Properties – Natural Certificated Oval Baltic Jewelry with the Highest Quality Guaranteed
*Not sure if this amber necklace helped or not but teething is a nightmare and it is also adorable.  Both my kids wore one all the time (on their ankle when sleeping)
Little Remedies Gripe Water-No Alcohol, Sodium Bicarbonate, Artificial Color & Gluten Free-Safe for Newborns-4 oz Bottle

The final two are gross but a parent’s gotta do what a parent’s gotta do…

Windi the Gaspasser by Fridababy the all-natural solution for Baby Colic and Gas Relief
NoseFrida the Snotsucker Baby Nasal Aspirator and Saline Nasal Spray Kit with 10 Hygiene filters by Fridababy – Sinus Congestion Relief for newborns up to toddlers

Embrace the Basics

Sure, baby toys are cute, but do you know what that baby needs now?  Yup, diapers. And a whole lot of them.  No one likes spending money on boring gifts but here’s the thing – you want your gift to get used right?  There is plenty of time to spoil that little one rotten but I say hold off until they are a little bigger and know what the hell is going on.  For now, you go right ahead and buy these gifts with your head held high.  The new parents will thank you for it

The bare necessities

aden + anais Disney Swaddle 4 Pack, Winnie The Pooh
Baby Briefcase Baby Paperwork Organizer, Mint/Periwinkle
*I’d love to meet the genius that thought of this – so practical
Pampers Swaddlers Disposable Diapers Size 2, 186 Count, ECONOMY PACK PLUS
Pampers Baby Wipes Complete Clean Scented 7X Refill, 504 Count
Playtex Diaper Genie Complete Assembled Diaper Pail with Odor Lock Technology & 1 Full Size Refill, White (1 pail and 1 refill per unit)
Munchkin Love-a-Bowls 10 Piece Feeding Set
Boon Grass, Stem & Twig Drying Set Bundle
*I loved this little drying rack – it is functional and cute
Energizer AA Batteries, Double A Battery Max Alkaline (24 Count) E91BP-24
*Yes, batteries – hear me out though. One of my friends got a bag of batteries from his in-laws and said while at the time it was the worst gift ever, it came in very handy all year. Kids toys use a lot of juice – AA and C are good choices!

Just Survive Somehow

If any of you are The Walking Dead fans you might get this reference but either way keeping a human alive is hard work.  My sister attempted to “baby proof” her apartment before we visited a few years ago by moving a bunch of frames and books to the top of a ladder shelf that my kids immediately started to climb and knocked down.  Luckily some people have successfully anticipated and outsmarted more babies than us and here are some suggestions for keeping your newest little friend safe.

Zombie apocalypse approved gear

Outlet Plug Covers (32 Pack) Clear Child Proof Electrical Protector Safety Caps by Jool Baby Products
Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate, White, Fits Spaces between 29″ to 39″ Wide
Ella’s MAGNETIC CABINET LOCKS | No Tools Needed – 3M Adhesive | Amazing for Baby Proofing Kitchen & Child Locks | Quality Design | Child Safety | Baby Locks | White
Kidkusion Gummi Crib Rail
*May protect your furniture more than the baby
Evenflo Versatile Play Space, Cool Gray
* Sure it looks like baby jail but trust me they are safe in there!

Something for Mom

Being a parent means not being the main attraction anymore.  My parent’s always love a visit from me but don’t hide their disappointment if the kids aren’t coming too.  Consider buying something for your friend instead of the baby to help ease the transition from being a free spirit to a servant to her new tiny overlord.

Richie House Women/’s Plush Soft Warm Fleece Bathrobe RH1591-D-L,Nude,Large
ULTRAIDEAS Women’s Comfort Memory Foam Slippers Wool-Like Plush Fleece Lined House Shoes w/Indoor, Outdoor Anti-Skid Rubber Sole (Medium/7-8 B(M) US, Black)
Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager with Heat Deep Kneading Massage for Neck, Back, Shoulder, Legs and Foot, Use at Home, Car, Office
ETEREAUTY Facial Brush Waterproof Body Facial Cleansing Brush for Deep Cleansing, Gentle Exfoliating and Removing Blackhead with 5 Brush Heads

Thanks, But No Thanks

There are a few gifts that people love to buy but aren’t really that useful.  If you are determined to buy one of them please pay attention to my notes on how proceed.

  • Baby clothes, hats or costumes
    Baby clothes are hard to resist but sometimes our kids don’t stay in one size very long (my son flew right past 9 mo).  If you must buy a cute outfit please make sure it is the right size for the right season.  Don’t buy the child fancy clothes or Halloween costumes either. That is one of the perks of being a parent.  Returning clothes is a pain and you don’t want your gift to end up in a bag for consignment with the tags on.  Also, if you buy anything with snaps or buttons (hard pass) it will never get worn.
  • Blankets 
    The thing about blankets is you aren’t really supposed to put them on the baby so while they are soft and cute they aren’t functional right away.  Now, my mom is annoyed with me right now so let me clarify.

    • Handmade blankets are great gifts.  I really loved everything that someone made for my babies.  If you are talented enough to make a gift you get the green light from me!
    • If you want to buy a blanket – opt for one that is “car seat” or “stroller” sized.  That is SO useful when you are trying to keep the baby warm on the go and a huge blanket gets caught in your wheels.
  • Porcelain cups, frames, keepsakes and other “things” 
    Again, I’m sorry if these are your favorite baby gifts.  I know I got a few of them and they are still in the plastic somewhere.  It is a nice gesture but none of the moms I surveyed really wanted these.  Save your money and consider the following item instead.

Da Real MVP

This is my absolute favorite baby item.  If I have been to your baby shower in the past 6 years this is what I bought you. Go off registry all day long when it comes to this item – it is a lifesaver!!

Leachco Podster Sling-Style Infant Seat Lounger, Sage Pin Dot
This rules because you can put your baby down and they won’t roll away or fall over. It is like an extra pair of hands and the best part is you can put it to use the DAY the baby gets home.  Other baby cushions have a space that is open on the ends so while you can wrap it around your body you can’t put the baby in it and walk away.  The cover comes off and you can toss it in the wash when you need to (or buy a back up cover so you don’t have to go one wash cycle without it).  This gift is the best – the reviews (and my son’s face) don’t lie!

Honorable mention:

Books – I love books as gifts.  Some people ask for them instead of cards which is a great way to build a little library up.  One of the best things you can do for your child is read to them.  Books also never go out of style so picking up one that YOU loved as a kid is a good way to choose.

Shop local – If shopping online isn’t your thing, look for some local children’s boutiques and find a unique gift.  Talk to the people at the store and see what they recommend and you might find something special and support a local business at the same time.  Emily + Addie is store in my area that carries different brands and great gifts for babies (and their big sister/brother)!

Oh Baby, That was a Long Post!

I hope that helped you as you shop this year.  You can always play it safe and buy off the registry but if one of these items is listed scoop it up!  Buying the most expensive item doesn’t matter if it isn’t useful.  I’m sure I missed a thing or two.  Let me know your favorite (or least favorite) baby shower gift in the comments!

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