When you get the invitation for a friend’s baby shower, the initial “awww” can all too quickly be replaced by a much less enthusiastic “ughhh” as you realize you now have the daunting task of finding the perfect gift for a human who technically doesn’t exist yet.
Sure, you could just pick something off a registry, but damn if people don’t register for some expensive shit (it’s a good friend indeed who’s like, “Sure, I’ll buy you that $1,000 stroller). Plus, registry shopping can feel like taking the easy way out — no thought or creativity required. You want to celebrate your friend’s soon-to-be bundle of joy (aka tiny poop machine) by getting them something they can use and that you can afford, right?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed sifting through all the gimmicky, ridiculously overpriced or just plain run-of-the-mill baby items out there. Well, look no further. We’ve compiled a list of 18 affordable, gender-neutral, unique baby shower gifts every expectant parent will adore. And we’ll wager none of these innovative ideas made the registry (yet). Without a single Sophie the Giraffe or $200 pair of cashmere baby socks to be found, all of these baby items will be sure to make you feel like the reigning gift-giving queen.
A version of this story was originally published in December 2018.
Coming Home Blanket
Even if the parents-to-be already have (or have registered for) a blankie or two, it’s really an item you can’t have too much of in the early days of #newbornlyfe. This sweet palm print from Monica & Andy is on-trend and gender-neutral, promising to make Baby’s homecoming a (very cozy) day to remember.
Coming Home Blanket, $38.00 at Monica + Andy.
Alphabet Canvas Bin
Babies have… so. much. stuff. From clothes to toys to stuffed animals, every parent-to-be is going to need some serious storage capabilities. These cloth storage baskets are cute and functional, and they come in a myriad of playful patterns and prints.
Alphabet canvas bin, $24 at ColorHomeHappy
Zaq Sky Oil Diffuser & Projector
Bedtime with a newborn can be, well, anything but enjoyable, but with this all-in-one aromatherapy diffuser, air purifier, humidifier, sleep timer, night-light and projector, going to bed with a baby in your room will be something you actually look forward to.
Zaq sky oil diffuser and projector, $40 at Zaq
Rifle Paper Co. Chatbook
You probably know about Chatbooks, the easy-to-use app that creates photo books directly from your phone and social media platforms. But did you know they recently paired with chic stationery mavens Rifle Paper Co. to bring you the most stylish photo book covers you’ve ever seen? The series book feature automatically adds your photos to a 60-page photo book and ships it to your door. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving because no new mom has time to take the millions of photos of her new baby off her phone and make them into a book. Now, she won’t have to do anything but take the pictures.
Rifle Paper Co. Chatbook, $10 for softcover and $15 for hardcover at Chatbooks
Honest Co. Winter Diapers
OK, so diapers tend to be the least glamorous gift at the shower, but parents will praise you for your thoughtful practicality. Plus, these diapers are chic AF. And we all know newborns are basically little poop machines, so if you’re going to have to deal with endless diaper changes that nearly require a gas mask, it might be a little more tolerable if you’re changing adorable diapers. With new winter prints like Enchanted Forest, Arctic Foxes and Chilly Penguins, these are the cutest diapers yet; pair them with some diaper cream and a lotion for the ultimate baby bundle.
Winter diapers, $14 at The Honest Company
Earth Mama Mini Deodorant 4-Pack
And while we’re on nonglamorous but ever-valuable gifts, behold: organic and lovely smelling deodorant. Actually, anything from Earth Mama Organics would make an amazing baby shower gift since all their products are non-GMO and organic. But our recent favorites are their new releases: Baby Face Organic Nose & Cheek Balm (since newborns are constantly drooling and dripping), Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea (super-useful for post-birth pains as well as when that pesky period returns) and NS-certified (meaning it contains 70 percent or more certified organic ingredients) organic deodorants, which help new moms feel like human beings again, not like aliens who haven’t showered or slept in a week.
Mini deodorant four-pack, $15 at Earth Mama Organics
Newborn Soothing Bundle
The folks at Smilo have taken the guesswork out of baby products, providing safe and sophisticated essentials aimed at millennial parents. The company is helmed by a team of parents — including two pediatric dentists and a biomedical engineer — who wanted to make products that are beautiful and functional. Their newborn soothing bundle is everything a new parent needs: newborn pacifiers, glow-in-the-dark pacifiers (!!) and a baby blanket. At $60, however, this is the least affordable option on our list — so feel free to go for a simple Smilo pacifier pack instead. Those are only $8.99, but they’ll still be much appreciated.
Newborn soothing bundle, $60 at Smilo
Babies tend to either love bath time or loathe it with a fiery passion and very deep lungs. Either way, this Kindhood towel poncho is made from 70 percent sustainable bamboo fiber and is the softest ever. There are incredible patterns to choose from, and these beauties are absorbent, quick-drying and have both a hood and pockets (for all the things). Basically a guarantee bath time will be the best time.
Kindhood poncho, $57 at Kindhood
And speaking of ponchos, plenty of breastfeeding moms are happy to pop out a boob in public at a moment’s notice (I know my sister was!), which is great, but for those of us who prefer a little privacy for our bodily functions, the hunt for the perfect nursing cover can be daunting. There are so many “infinity scarves that double as a nursing cover,” except it takes you 20 minutes to figure out how to spread out the scarf/find the head hole/insert the baby, and eventually you give up and just flash passersby. But no more. This fair-trade nursing poncho from Hip Baby is soft, straightforward and simple. Because when you’re dealing with a screaming, hungry baby, time is of the essence.
Nursing poncho, $40 at Hip Baby
High-Contrast Art Cards
Babies love high contrast, and these art cards from Wee Gallery are perfect for their little eyes to focus on. They will engage and entertain baby from day one while also stimulating their vision. The cards come in four collections: woodland animals, jungle, farm and safari. And chances are even the most vigilant of gift-registerers won’t have thought of these yet.
High-contrast art cards for baby, $15 at Amazon
‘Good Things Grow Here’ Banner
Ah, the classic “gift that no one needs but everyone will want.” A simple reminder for every parent, this banner from The Bee and the Fox is a sweet sentiment that will always be true in this baby’s home. (The baby is the good thing. She’s growing. Get it?)
‘Good Things Grow Here’ banner, $32 at TheBeeandTheFox/Etsy
‘Go the Fuck to Sleep’
OK, so this isn’t for the baby. But sometimes, having a new baby is so exhausting, you just have to laugh. This New York Times No. 1 best seller is the perfect gag gift that’s actually an honest and thoughtful gift: a book for those nights when it’s 3 a.m. and the baby just won’t go to sleep. It also comes as an audiobook, read by the man, the myth, the legend: Samuel L. Jackson.
Go the Fuck to Sleep, $15 at Amazon
Organic Cotton Teether Veggie Crate
All babies need something to chomp on, and these organic cotton teethers are not only adorable but also washable (a must). And maybe they’ll even help Baby foster a love of veggies. One can hope!
Organic cotton teether veggie crate, $36 at Under the Nile.
If there’s one thing first-time parents love, it’s taking photos of their spawn, right? Get thee a Framebridge gift card in any amount you choose so they can frame their best baby snap in style — without ever leaving the house.
Framebridge gift card, any price at Framebridge
Sun Basket Subscription
One of the absolute last things a new parent wants to do is deal with planning and cooking meals. So give the gift of Sun Basket, a meal subscription box that is delivered right to your door and provides organic, healthy, quick and easy meals parents can whip up while the baby sleeps/plays/stares at them.
Sunbasket subscription, $37 for one week (three recipes) at Sun Basket
Baby Milestone Cards
Having a baby means lots and lots (did I mention lots?) of pictures to document every gummy grin. This gift will help parents keep track of important milestones — and give any social media documentation of their little chubster an extra boost of cuteness to boot.
Baby milestone cards, $24 at Anthropologie
FridaBaby Bitty Bundle
This one is not super-cheap, but anything by FridaBaby is worth its weight in gold. If you don’t already know about the NoseFrida and its magical snot-sucking powers, you need to know now. This starter bundle includes that very gem of baby hygiene tools, plus nail clippers, “gas passer” tubes and a “mom washer” squeeze bottle for those sore postpartum bits. Yep, sounds weird, but like we said, worth its weight in gold.
FridaBaby Bitty Bundle, $49.99 at FridaBaby
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