Frugal Gifts For New Parents and New Babies

by Kelly · 17 comments

in A Frugal Family

wife_and_babyI’m of the age when lots of my friends are having babies; recently I’ve had the occasion to find lots of frugal gifts to give (as well as many sweet-smelling baby bundles to cuddle!). It’s often hard to find good baby gifts when you are on a budget and don’t want to overwhelm the new parent with lots of stuff. I know that for each of my children’s births I got lots and lots of newborn clothes as presents, but those were not the gifts that did me the most good, nor that were the most frugal.

Food and drinks

I almost always give food as a gift. ItΒ  is not a widely accepted practice in France, surprisingly, and I was so very appreciative when people brought me ready made meals to welcome the new baby, especially after I already had an older kid (or two) running around, clamoring to be fed.

My favorites include any variation on rice and beans, lasagna, chicken vegetable soup, or a pasta casserole. I also like to give something like zucchini bread with a nice hunk of cheese and a mixed fruit salad. The essential is that it requires no effort to prepare or serve, can be reheated at a moment’s notice and preferably, wolfed down in gulps, one-handedly. Whatever food I do give, I package it in reusable aluminimum containers so that the recipient doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of it and giving it back.

One of the things that I always noticed just after having a baby was how thirsty I was. It seemed like I was always forgetting to drink enough. So now I like to give boxes of tea and a bottle or two of nice fruit juice, with a reminder note to not forget to drink something often and regularly.

Diapers (cloth or disposable)

Frugal Babe has great posts on how to make diapers and diaper covers; but whether your friends are choosing to use cloth or disposable, a gift of diapers is a great frugal choice. I received about 30 cloth diapers before the birth of my first son, and used them for my second and third babies as well. Of course you can’t reuse disposables, but a having an extra pack on hand means one less thing for the new parents to think about.


baby_feet_2A helping hand is one of the best gifts money can’t buy. While you or your friends might not feel comfortable with you cleaning their house, a play session with the older kids, or better yet, a trip to the local park, is always welcome. If there are no older kids, offer to do something unobtrusive, like addressing baby announcements or holding the baby while the mom takes a nap.

Baby accessories

If you are even the slightest bit crafty, making a simple baby receiving blanket is a good frugal choice for a baby present. 30 x 36 inches makes a perfect size stroller blanket, and 36 x 36 is good for swaddling. Buy old flannel sheets from the thrift store- it’s usually only the middle that is worn, and you will have enough room around the edges to find good quality fabric.

Stitch the wrong sides of the fabric together, leaving a small opening on one of the sides. Turn the blanket inside out, then stitch the opening closed. If you like, you can ‘quilt’ the blanket by stitching tufts of embroidery thread in a coordinating color randomly across the blanket.


Do you know a lot about breastfeeding? Offer to be their coach during those early days. I have coached a few friends to a successful breastfeeding relationship simply by being an available ear and sharing my experience as a mom myself.Β  How about making baby food? Make them a how-to guide book with recipes and instructions. Are you a musician? Record yourself playing lullabies.

Welcoming a new baby into the world is a special event and should be celebrated accordingly! But that doesn’t mean that you have to, nor should, spend a lot of money. I’ve shared my favorite frugal baby gifts, now it’s your turn!

What are your favorite frugal gifts for new babies and their parents? If you’re a parent, what was your favorite gift you received when your baby was born? Do you have any special skills or expertise that you can share with new parents?


1 Karen of Virtually There January 9, 2009

My favourite gift was food. I would just add to find out whether the mother is breastfeeding and if so, stay away from any gassy foods like beans, cabbage or green veggies. I always make my new mum friends tourtiere because it is full of protein but has no gassy stuff in it.

My favourite gift, aside from food, to receive is a clean house. My MIL came and cleaned for a week after I had my first baby and it was amazing. Offering to clean someone’s house just before or after the baby comes is invaluable and doesn’t cost you anything but time.

Karen of Virtually There´s last blog post..What’s cooking Wednesday

2 Nicki at Domestic Cents January 9, 2009

People in my church brought meals to me for 1 week after my daughter was born … what a blessing! I also received many handmade gifts such as knitted/crocheted blankets, quilts and clothing. I really treasured those items. Now when I give gifts to new parents I keep these things in mind. I try to give gifts that are more meaningful while also being less expensive … win-win!

Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..What’s Inspired Me Lately

3 Jenny January 9, 2009

Thank you for your suggestions. I am all about practical gifts. I have 2 baby showers to attend (one this weekend and one next weekend) and still need to purchase gifts. I am usually the one that gives a gift card along with a pack of diapers. I know it isn’t the most 00hed and aaghed over gift at the shower, but I know the mother will get use out of it. πŸ™‚

Jenny´s last blog post..Happy New Year!

4 Lucie @ Unconventional Origins January 9, 2009

Diapers and food were priceless those first few weeks.

If you can afford it, baby clothes in a much bigger size (i.e. 9 – 12 months) are so nice to have on hand because it seems like before you know it the baby has outgrown all of the clothes in their size and you find yourself suddenly needing a ton of new baby clothes. The bigger sizes people gave me when my son was born got packed away, but they were my saving grace when I realized he needed new sizes. It have me a day or two to plan getting to the store or to hit up friends for hand me downs.

Lucie @ Unconventional Origins´s last blog post..Fatherhood Series :: Introduction

5 lilymarlene January 9, 2009

I always knit something very plain and simple. I say that this is an “at home” garment so that they don’t feel guilty if it isn’t their taste and they don’t want to parade Baby in it.
They can never have enough cardigans. I usually do it 2nd size because they get given lots of fancy first size shop stuff.
If I knit in acrylic it seems to grow with baby, and it is machine washable too.

6 Stacie.Make.Do. January 9, 2009

I agree with Lucie about the bigger size clothes. I also like to give gifts that will still be useful when the baby is older – like flannel bibs and burp cloths.

7 Rich January 9, 2009

Why am I the only guy leaving a comment? πŸ™‚

I think these are fantastic ideas, and I will definitely think about them next time a friend has a new baby (non coming up that I can think of, but we’re at that age too). When birthday’s come around I know I try to give either money or practical gifts, like the diapers, since they’re always needed. I figure parent’s want to buy the fun stuff like toys and clothes, so I might as well help them out with the other stuff.

Food and drinks for a new mother are great ideas, and probably much appreciated by the whole family. Wonderful post!

Rich´s last blog post..Review- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

8 Vicki Davisson January 10, 2009

My sister shops at garage sales and thrift stores and picks up second hand clothes for “just because” gifts. They won’t work at showers, but just after the baby’s born, they are very welcome. I got a big box of clothes from her when my son was born, handed down from her three sons in turn. I used almost all of them! Thank God for sisters!

I also appreciated the little receiving blankets, you can never have enough of those. I wish I still had some, and my son is now 18!

9 Alison @ This Wasn't In The Plan January 10, 2009

I like to give essentials like baby wash, small hairbrushes, and nail clippers. These items are inexpensive and, in my first-hand baby experience, they are items you can never have too many of!

Alison @ This Wasn’t In The Plan´s last blog post..iTunes Isn’t Just For iPod Owners

10 Coupon Center January 11, 2009

Good tips! I love it!

11 jodi@bpr January 11, 2009

Food is definitely a great thing – we received lots of home cooked meals with our first and it was wonderful. We also had one friend who called and asked what our favorite restaurant was and what meal we would like from there – it was a nice change of pace too. Gift cards to a restaurant also work if someone doesn’t want to make food.

We had 2 separate diaper showers and they were much appreciated…not only did it give us the opportunity to try several different brands of diapers, it was also so nice to not have to worry about buying diapers for a good while after our little guy was born. Several people we knew got us size 2 and 3 diapers, so they seemed to last forever!

great post!

jodi@bpr´s last blog post..Taking it day by day

12 Shevy January 11, 2009

Hmm. I tried to post and it disappeared into the void. Let’s try again.

I agree with Alison’s ideas. I like to give baby wash, baby shampoo, baby lotion, a set of beginning toothbrushes, brush and comb, all that sort of thing.

I’ve also given some nice body lotion for the *mother*.

And being given food was great although we were stunned by some of the quantities. We got 2 and even 3 meals from some of the dinners people gave us!

13 Cyndie January 12, 2009

Food was so welcome. Our church members brought us complete dinners ( including dessert!) every other day. We ate for 2 days and then another was brought for 2 weeks!! It was perfect. My favorite and most useful baby gift I bought myself . It is a shopping cart cover ( for when the aby is sitting up) that I bought from It is heavy, quilted and it covered the entire seat and handle so everything the baby touched was clean. I could give dry snacks like crackers and cereal while shopping, and they stayed in front of the baby and clean. I sometimes see similar covers for 10 dollars at TJMax. At first it doesn't seem frugal, but I am sure that it saved money because my little one didn't get sick from the gross shopping carts.

14 Emma @ January 13, 2009

Great tips. I remember the best gifts I was given when my son was born, were hand-me-downs from a colleague at work, a blanket from a friend, another knitted blanket – I use it till this very day, some food (soups) and a baby sling. Also my hubby’s family sent us a whole lot of baby stuff in bigger sizes and I can’t thank them enough for that. And people offered help, but as you mentioned, I didn’t feel comfortable accepting it πŸ™‚ You know it all, Kelly!

Emma @´s last blog post..Hey there, little baby, swimming in the deep blue sea (part 2)

15 FrumpMama January 14, 2009

As one who had a c-section and spent a few days in the NICU with our youngest son after his birth, meals for my family were especially appreciated acts of love especially in those first few days where I was both recovering and we were driving back and forth to the hospital.

You can't go wrong in giving disposable diapers, flannel receiving blanket/burp cloths, onesies/sleepers (depending on the season) and white baby socks in abundance. That and hand-me-downs from family and friends kept me pretty well set for the first 6 months of my sons life. Huge blessing. I remember people talking about how 'expensive' babies were, and I was like, "No…they're really not."

<abbr>FrumpMama´s last blog post..Boys Will Be Boys</abbr>

16 Meredith January 16, 2009

I think your criteria for baby meals are right on target! Especially things which need no reheating and can be eaten one-handed, while nursing!

We give many new baby gifts for my husband’s employees, and I struggle to find the perfect gift that is both budget-friendly and practical.

My aunts got together and gave me a Merry Maid cleaning gift certificate for the birth of child #2 and then a grocery delivery service gift certificate for child #3.

Though not budget friendly, these are WOW gifts that are not overly expensive for a group of people chipping in.

Meredith´s last blog post..I know how to pick ’em

17 Mo March 20, 2010

love the idea of giving breast feeding advice. am being trained as a peer counsellor so will be properly able to do that. Also food. I never thought. And I never got neither. It would have been nice. Best present I got was a really cool blanket – I still use it! Worst present was flowers. I had no idea, I gave loads of flowers before I realised that in fact its just an extra load of household admin for the parents. Won’t be doing that again. I reckon home made cakes and biscuits is good. I loved cake when I was breast feeding. And am going to also big up the idea of clothes in a bigger size. and babygrows. you can get them second hand. and they are brilliant.
.-= Mo´s last blog ..last thing on thursday night and =-.

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