I’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. It 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.
A 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.
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. 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?