Baby Shower Gifts on a Budget

Amiyrah posted some great ideas for frugal baby shower gifts yesterday. I especially loved her idea of giving service gifts. They cost nothing and are so appreciated–believe me, I know!

If you’re wondering what I’d suggest you get for a new mom, well, you can check out my list of must-have essentials for baby. Yes, it’s quite short. But really? How much does a baby need. Love and nurturing is much more important than things–at least in my view.

Photo credit: izadd

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  1. says

    My favorite gift to give (and receive!) for baby showers is books.
    I have found some great deals on books and keep a stash of them on hand to use as baby gifts.

    They aren’t a frugal option if you can’t find them on sale – kids books are so expensive!!
    Thanks for this link.

    • Ln says

      When I still taught, my 2nd grade students surprised me with a book baby shower. Each child had brought in a book (or more than one) and signed a note to my daughter on the inside cover. One little girl gave her a book about rainbows and inscribed “I hope all your days are filled with rainbows!” She reads them all the time.

    • Laurie Fesmire says

      @Terra, Thanks so much for posting the pattern for the nursing cover. I plan to make a couple for my daughter who is expecting a boy on July 1st. Thanks again.

    • says

      Choosing a great baby shower gift really depends on how well you know the mom-to-be. It depends a lot on the mom and her mindset. If you know a mom will use a cover and you know her style, this would be a nice gift. But, many feel that a mom shouldn’t have to hide while nursing. And while handmade gifts are usually appreciated, I know a few women that would be appalled to receive anything handmade :(

      • Kristen says

        Wow! I didn’t know receiving a nice homemade gift would be something a person could be appalled by! Also nursing covers aren’t just for hiding, many babies have a hard time nursing when there’s a lot of commotion around them, so a cover can make it easier to concentrate on the feeding.

      • Heather says

        @Andrea Q, True, I am nursing my 4th child, and have done them all without covers, discretely. I prefer just lifting up my shirt carefully. One less thing to carry around. And I feel like the cover actually draws more attention to what you’re doing. Not that you’re doing anything wrong, but some people have issues . . . . However, if someone had given me one, I would have been happy to try it out, I’m sure! Some are very attractive.

  2. Sara says

    I bought a 5 pack of white onsies from Wal-Mart. When someone has a baby I take the onsie to get it monogrammed with baby’s name. Cost less than $10 total for a personalized gift that mommy will love to put on baby! And I also stockpile size one diapers when they are on sale and I have coupons. And if I know the person well enough, I’ll bring a homemade meal to their home.

    So all in all my new mommy friends will get:
    1. a monogrammed onsie (something cute)
    2. diapers (something necessary)
    3. a meal (something the whole family can use!)

    And it costs me less than $20 total to give a new baby a great welcome!

  3. Krystal says

    my favorite gift from my showers that was semi- inexpensive. a LARGE photo album one that holds about 200 pictures. ppl take tons of pictures of their kids in the firts few years. its a great thing to get and its useful.

    they cost about 10 dollars onsale or with a coupon at the craft store.

  4. says

    My favorite thing to get was a Boppy. I had a c-section and the Boppy supports the baby while keeping the weight off my incision. Also, my Dad and stepmom cleaned my house while I was in the hospital. What a wonderful gift that was.

  5. Lori says

    Sara……….WOW! I really like the idea of the monogrammed onesies; I am going to be a grandma again in a few weeks and I was trying to think of a personalized gift for the baby shower…………AND that would be perfecto!
    I think I am going to get a whole multi-color pack of them monogrammed for my grandson!

    Thanks for the great idea!

    • Sara says

      I’m glad you like my idea! I have to admit though, it wasn’t all my idea. My best friend gave me 3 monogrammed onsies with matching bows when my daughter was born. My daughter lived in those until she almost burst through the snaps at the bottom!

  6. Ginny says

    I was wanting to make a baby cake for my sister she just had a miscarriage Tuesday and I know the Lord may give her a baby. So I would love to know what is in your cake and closer pics. I want to make her something very memorable when the time comes. I am going to be the best Aunt:O) Because she has been the best Auntie for my kids.

  7. says

    Crystal, You are so right that there are really only a few things we need. In fact we sold most of our baby stuff in our yard sale this past weekend for about $250 total. We are still wanting to have a third baby but after the second I realized we could really make it with less baby stuff! I love giving diapers to new mommies, you always need them, unless your cloth diapering that is. I love giving the practical gifts that mommies will really use.

    • Brenda says

      I like giving diapers too. It’s such a practical gift. On the frugal side, it’s also something you can collect when they are really on sale.

  8. says

    If you have a Kohl’s in your area, it seems like they always have adorable baby clothes on clearance for only a few dollars. They’re not free, but if you’re in a busy season of life and really don’t have the time to do a “service” gift (as awesome and appreciated as those are), you can put together a nice baby outfit very inexpensively.

  9. Megan says

    I know that a lot of new moms like to have the fun of picking out a few “cute” outfits themselves, so I rarely bring clothes unless they are super-practical (i.e. onesies). It’s also a great idea to get onesies and diapers in bigger sizes so that the baby won’t get overloaded with 0-3 month items, but have nothing to grow into. I’m also putting in another vote for dinners, baby-sitting, house-cleaning and helping the new parents with around-the-house projects. Finally, I think that diapers (cloth or disposable, depending on parent preference) and wipes are the most practical gifts and are always appreciated. Plus, they’re the easiest things to get for cheap with coupons!

  10. says

    My wife loves to make diaper cakes for baby showers. Essentially, she buys a couple packs of diapers, and rolls them individually (think thick wad of cash type of roll). Then she stacks them up, to look like a tiered cake. Top with some random baby trinkets (pacifier, bottle, etc.) I think she usually ends up spending around $40, but is able to get maybe 2-3 other people to go in on it with her. So, she probably spends about $10 or so, and ends up with the most talked about gift of all!

    If anybody is interested in more details, feel free to contact me through my website. I can ask my wife for more specific instructions.

    • Alissa says

      @Seth @ Boy Meets Food, i just started making diaper cakes as gifts for showers. when you have 17+ friends pregnant at the same time, it gets expensive! i usually spend $10-$15 and the moms (and guests) love it! plus, it gives me an outlet for creativity! as for moms who won’t use the diapers, to each her own. maybe they can use it as decoration in the baby’s room.

  11. says

    As a current mom and expecting my second baby, I wholeheartedly agree that most of us end up with too much stuff that we don’t need, never end up using and it just sits taking up space.

    That said, I used my sling that my coworker/ friend made me. You can easily sew a sling for a low cost or even make a wrap style sling out of 6 yards of fabric (like a Moby wrap). I was able to take my daughter on walks and wear her around the house when doing other things, and she could sleep or nurse without anyone poking their dirty, germy fingers at her! And it didn’t clunk around like a stroller, was portable, compact and washable. I’m looking into a Moby wrap style carrier this time around because I wore out the sling!

    • says

      @Milk Donor Mama, I would have LOVED a homemade sling! And, um, instructions on use, in person, because I struggled trying to figure out a ring sling. Jan Andrea’s site has various babywearing related patterns which might be helpful.

  12. Vanessa says

    I have to vote for a sling.I used mine with my last three children.If you get the right kind you can use it up to age two.I hardly ever used a stroller just because it was easy for everyone to finger the baby.

  13. says

    If you crochet or knit, you can make a beautiful blanket as a gift using free patterns online. Watch the sales at craft stores for inexpensive, quality yarn. The last baby blanket I made cost around $10, because I used clearance yarn.

    My cousin is expecting and I am stockpiling diapers for her. So far, I’ve been able to get three packages for the cost of one. She is really frugal and I know it’ll be appreciated.

  14. Julie says

    I received so many cute baby outfits at the shower and shortly after my little one was born. Unfortunately, most of them were seasonal outfits, and he didn’t quite fit in them at the right time, so they were given away unused.
    Now that I know better, I wish I would have received a supply of medications such as fever reducer, gas drops, teething medicine. Having those would have saved a few late night trips to the pharmacy.
    I’ve hosted some showers where I bought plain white onesies in different sizes or plain bibs and gave the guests some fabric markers and paint so everyone could decorate one for the new baby. Some turned out quite beautiful. I honestly don’t know how many of them ever got used, but it was a fun shower activity.

    • Anon says


      A thoughtful mother did get us gas drops and baby Tylenol at my shower and they were some of the best gifts! Especially as a first time mom, they were things I didn’t think to have on hand ahead of time. I would also suggest a humidifier/vaporizer. The first time my daughter got congested I had to run out to Target with her to buy one (daddy was at work) and I felt so bad dragging her out when I knew she didn’t feel very well.

      My daughter got (and still gets) a lot of onesies but after the first couple of months we pretty much stopped using them. She’s never been one to be swaddled or covered up while she sleeps and I didn’t think she’d stay warm enough with bare arms and legs. She’s 8.5 months old now, so when we go out she wears tops and pants or dresses with diaper covers. The monogrammed onesies idea is cute, but maybe use long sleeved ones and include some matching cotton pants. That’s just my opinion of course, it seems like every other parent swears by them! My grandmother has one of those automatic sewing machines and she sent my daughter some cute embroidered burp clothes – same concept but you don’t have to worry about the baby outgrowing them.

      Also, while we appreciated and eventually used the diapers and wipes from the shower, I felt kind of bad that people paid full price for them since I’d already stocked up a bunch of premium diapers/wipes for less than half price during my pregnancy by combining coupons and sales.

  15. says

    I am all about the creative ones and try to tailor it to the Mom. I like finding frugal ways to make the creative baby shower gift ideas. I personally don’t want all clothes and homemade blankets. Where I live there are very talented folks and I got 25 homemade blankets and all clothes with my first born. WOW! I needed some necessities! I like diapers in larger sizes, baby tylenol, nursing (pads, milk bags, etc) supplies off a mom’s registry, wipes, and a fun novelty item is fun- EX. Pee pee tee pee (homemade for boys), a cute fabric nursing cover, fabric covered wipes container, and diaper welcome home wreath are ideas I have on my link below. I also enjoy dinners from people I know well (how clean is their kitchens etc.) Check out my link with 14 ideas for Baby showers or gifts (most are frugal). Babies are worth celebrating! Staci

    • Maria says

      Certainly, babies are worth celebrating! When my first child was born, my church hosted a shower for me. 90% of the gifts I received where homemade. There is nothing wrong with the homemade gifts if you know what you’re doing. In my case, the gifts I received were such poor quality and lack functionality that i really couldn’t find much use for them. You really dont have to spend a lot of money on a gift that a new mom can use. If you wait for the last minute, you can get a couple of nice outfits for under $20 at Ross or TJ Maxx. However, if you plan ahead, you can give a box or a basket filled with essentials like diapers, Desitin, Wipes, shampoo, gas drops, Tylenol and bibs for under $20. These items go on sale at the Walgreens and CVS all the time. For example, I gave my girlfriend a basket full of essentials worth over $90 and I only spent $14.32. I bought items on sale, used coupons, then used Register rewards to buy other much needed items that i also had coupons for. I was also looking in the clearance section for steals. I was able to accumulate a lot of stuff over a 6 month period. My girlfriend was very happy and grateful.

  16. misty says

    the one thing i am so glad i got was a gift for myself. my grandmother-in-law got me a purse and a $25.00 gift card to get my nails done. it was fantastic to be able to use that and treat myself after the baby was born. for the baby though the best thing that i got for a gift was my parents came and cleaned the house and both my children loved there swing. they would swing away in it all day if we would let them.

  17. Stephanie says

    I don’t give clothes since most of the time they do not get worn but we tend to give books. I have had good luck finding new board books for 50 cents at various sales. I really like the idea of a basket of baby Tylenol, thermometer, teething gel, diaper cream, nose aspirator, saline drops, etc… We could have really used that the first time our daughter became ill at 3am.

  18. says

    I like to give “inspirational diapers”. I write verses on the diapers in permanent markers. I figure that it might help keep the diaper changer’s mood in the right place:). I have pictures on my site-I’m not the most artistic, but it helps to visualize it better.

  19. SusanE. says

    We are expecting our second daughter to arrive anytime and one thing that would have been helpful for a shower gift was for a house cleaning certificate–either from a maid service or a friend (especially if the mom is far away from family or her own mom). I’m at the point where I can’t bend over to scrub the tubs, vacuum the stairs, haul boxes to the basement, and mop the floors well. My sister bought me a gift card for a house cleaning for our first daughter and it was fantastic! Although a good cleaning can cost quite a bit, if you get several friends to go together, it can be reasonable and definitely appreciated for a second or more-time mom.

  20. Angie says

    My sister gave me everything I needed to make my own baby wipes: container, baby wash, oil, paper towels, and the recipe. It was a fabulous gift. Now I only buy wipes to take along in my diaper bag, and I make my own wipes here at home about once a week. It saves a ton of money for us. She was thinking long term with that gift. Love my frugal sister! :)

  21. Christy says

    I like to do a basket of items that no one thinks about (especially the first time around). My husband and I made several trips to the store (both after showers–before birth and post-birth) to buy several things that we had not thought about. Many of these things can be purchased at the Dollar Store or if you are like us and many of your friends are having babies all the time (or so it seems), you can buy ahead and grab things when they are cheap. Another great thing about this, is you can buy all of these things and more for a big basket or just a few things depending on how close you are to the person or how much you want to spend:
    -batteries -variety of sizes (many shower gifts took batteries but did not come with any)
    – thank you notes — people had given me these at wedding showers, but no one thought about it at baby showers
    -hand lotion – for mom and dad–we were washing our hands so much that our skin got dry!
    -gauze and petroleum jelly for a boy (if circumcizing)–the stuff the hospital sends you home with runs out and you have to go buy more–plus pet. jelly is also good for suck blisters, chapped skin, etc.
    -saline drops – hospital sends you home with nose bulb sucker thing–it does nothing–at 2 week check up, ped. says to use saline drops first — had to stop and get them on the way home
    -diaper rash cream–can you believe I had 3 showers and no one gave me this?
    -I know there are probably some more things, but you get the idea!
    -I usually throw in a board book ($3–TJ Maxx) b/c I am a teacher and you can never have too many books! I also throw in a list explaining why they may need each item!

    • Anon says


      Batteries are such a great idea! Our daughter’s swing, bouncy chair and mobile all used big D cell batteries so we went through a ton of them for a while.

  22. Kelly says

    Good basic clothing in bigger sizes (6,9, or 12 month sleepers or onesies) or soft-soled shoes in 6 or 12 month sizes are great for 1st time moms, since they usually get tons of 0-3 and 3-6 stuff and might not know about the shoes. Children’s Place has good clearance sales, I’ve gotten sleepers for $1-2 each.
    For any mother, the offer of a grocery shopping buddy or help with a household project would be very welcome. Saline drops and gas medicine are great ideas too. If you are crafty, you can make a larger blanket to swaddle baby by crocheting an edging on a 36″ square of fleece. Both my boys had outgrown their receiving blankets by 10 weeks but still slept better swaddled.

  23. says

    You are so right on about the list being so short, although in my baby shower days, I found that people bought too much clothes. I had so many that my baby’s barely got to use them all before they grew out if them. I mean, seriously, I wasn’t into playing dress up every day during the first weeks, so onesies and socks would have done the job!
    Also, I think it is smart for people to give 2-3 small packs of different size diapers than one big box of infant diapers. That is another item that my son grew out of before we could use them all. It felt so wasteful! Alas, I freecycled the rest!

  24. says

    I love doing home made stuff for baby showers. I have tye-dyed onesies, made bow boxes (for girls!), stamped thank you notes, sewn minky quilts and painted wooden letters in the babies name for the nursery wall.

    I also stock up on Johnson’s Baby Products when they’re super cheap or free. My kids can’s use them and they make great gifts.

  25. says

    Has any mentioned casserole showers? Have this shower just shortly before the baby is born. Everyone brings a casserole for the new momma’s deep freeze for after the baby is born.

    If momma doesn’t own a deep freeze, you can schedule a different night for friends to bring over dinner every night for the first week or two!

  26. Karen says

    At our church when someone had a baby we would sign up to bring meals each night of the week for about 2 weeks after the baby is born. This was always a great help to me as well as other mothers.
    One of the greatest gifts I received for our second and third child was packages of diapers and wipes. I got stage 2 and up to help out later on.
    When I go to a shower I usually pick out clothes that can be used about a year later, since the person usually gets overwhelmed with clothes for the first 3-6 months.

  27. Leah says

    We have given books for the past two years. I used to work in the children’s dept of the library, so I know lots of great books. What I do is I find 2 great (hardcover) books on sale at Christian Book Distributors then order about 5 or 6 sets- that’s how many gifts we give in the year, plus a couple extra. My target price is $3 or less a book, I have found some beautiful ones- the illustrations have to be top-notch. At CBD, some are Christian books, but others are mainstream picture books. I’m trying to change my gift giving to a long term perspective of where a person (baby) may be in the future, and books to encourage their literacy and sense of art and beauty. Plus, it’s a great gift for people who are on their second, third, etc. baby, and easy to have these on hand.

  28. Hannah says

    I always give board books at baby showers, because all kids need to read and be read to! Also, if I know the person really well, I try to give a Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CD or DVD when I can afford it. Those tapes and videos, along with the Your Story Hour Bible in Drama, aside from Bible study with my Dad, were the most significant instruments in building my knowledge of God and his Word and, I would say, moulding my heart to conform to his ways. Not always the cheapest gift but lasting and meaningful.

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