A new baby is cause for celebration in every culture, but especially so among the Chinese for whom family plays such an important role in the social fabric. Here in the United States, new Chinese American parents, along with their relatives and friends, face the unique challenge of choosing which Chinese traditions to preserve while living in this country.
A great Chinese baby gift combines the contemporary with the traditional, the practical with the aspirational. Diapers, board books and swaddle blankets meet tiger shoes, pieces of jade and red envelopes. This is the great opportunity for gift givers — to beautifully balance the Chinese and the American in a gift’s design, materials or sensibility.
Here are our best Chinese baby gift ideas, along with etiquette tips for navigating the most common baby gift giving situations.
Lucky money in a Chinese red envelope is the easiest, most traditional gift when meeting a baby for the first time, whether at home or at a red egg and ginger party. Pick a design below that conveys the sentiment you wish to send.
These premium red envelopes feature the Chinese character for blessings (福) to wish the baby a life filled with abundance and prosperity. Blooming flowers and brilliant hot foil stamping in red and gold complete the auspicious motif.
These premium red envelopes feature the Chinese character for fullness (满) to wish the baby a life filled with satisfaction and joy. Blooming flowers and brilliant hot foil stamping in red and gold complete the auspicious motif.
These premium red envelopes feature the Chinese character for luck (祥) to wish the baby a life filled with success and achievement. Blooming flowers and brilliant hot foil stamping in red and gold complete the auspicious motif.
All parents need baby gear from swaddling blankets to bibs, table utensils to nursery decorations. Choosing the right items can add a distinctly Chinese touch to the baby’s nursery.
Wrap the baby in warm wishes for luck and prosperity with this ultra-soft fleece blanket featuring traditional Chinese gold ingots on a vibrant red background. The perfect gift for new parents.
An ideal bag for running errands around town, this sturdy tote stylishly celebrates chinese culture. It’s decorated on both sides with a festive red chinese envelopes and natural background.
Lucky swimming fish decorate this collection of baby blankets, crib sheets, lovies and changing pad covers. These playful golden carp on a baby blue background fill any nursery with good fortune, abundance and strength.
Brighten a baby’s nursery with this colorful ABC print featuring hand-drawn red and gold Chinese lanterns for good luck. A whimsical, light-hearted design sure to add a playful touch to any child’s bedroom wall.
Every baby needs a WubbaNub, the combination pacifier and stuffed companion. And in Chinese mythology, a tiger is believed to protect babies and keep them from harm, making this gift another wonderful blend of old and new.
Adorable woodland and nature-themed counting wall cards that include the numbers 1-10 in Chinese. A great gift for eco-conscious parents — printed on recycled card stock with Earth-friendly inks.
Baby clothing can be dressed up in a Chinese style by choosing designs incorporating the color red for good luck, tigers for protection from harm and zodiac animals for their mythical powers. You can choose clothes in the traditional Chinese style or common Western baby clothes like onesies, shirts and pajamas.
Cute, fun and contemporary — this adorable onesie is a slam dunk gift for a baby born this year. Easy to wear for any occasion, this onesie features an adorable illustrated chinese culture gazing up lovingly at the baby. Available in lucky red, blue and pink.
Boston-based designer Lillian Lee, creator of the Empty Bamboo Girl comic, authors love letters to her American born Chinese life. Is your little one a silly egg tart? This delightful onesie features a Chinese bakery and dim sum staple that comes with a sweet smile…and filling!
Dingding Hu’s delightful illustrations appear everywhere from the New York Times to the Museum of Chinese in America. This updated Chinese motif wraps a baby in the best of both worlds — bravery and power, tenderness and sweetness.
This cute onesie is a “like” magnet on Facebook (just wait until the living room blanket lion dances start around age 2!). Grandma and grandpa will love the illustrated child-sized lion dancer, a traditional symbol of good luck and prosperity during Chinese celebrations. Available in key lime, blue and pink.
These adorable baby cheongsams for little girls are decorated with lotus flowers, roses and lilies symbolizing beauty, elegance and innocence. A surefire hit.
These toys help kids build Chinese culture into playtime in fun and engaging ways. From bilingual building blocks to Chinese cooking sets, you can help the parents naturally and positively incorporate Chinese culture into their child’s everyday routines.
This 32 block set features Mandarin simplified Chinese characters, their English equivalents, a stroke grid, numbers and a puzzle featuring a map of China, the Chinese flag and yellow dragon.
This playful 12″ plush toy is is perfect for playtime, bedtime snuggles or as a fun nursery decoration. It’s sure to become an adorable keepsake for babies born this year.
Kids love stickers! Help bring a young child’s ideas to life with a full collection of Chinese good luck symbols including red envelopes, lanterns, auspicious foods, firecrackers and gold ingots. Available in packs of 100, 200 and 500 stickers.
This 100 piece domino play set provides a wonderful way for children to learn a basic Chinese vocabulary. Each domino contains a picture of a familiar object like a fruit, animal or household item with its English name, Chinese character and phonetic pronunciation.
This cute bank provides a fun way to recognize the value placed on thrift and savings in Chinese culture. Perfect for a baby born this year and available in a classic blank and white motif.
The perfect paint set for toddlers. Young artists use a calligraphy brush to paint on the Buddha Board with water and then the images fades as the water evaporates, setting the stage for a new creative effort.
This wonderful collection of children’s picture books is perfect for Chinese American kids. They feature universal storytelling that anyone can access, meaningful themes that will resonate with parents and children and inspiring characters. Include a note about story times to come and you have a terrific gift.
This charming board book from Newbery Medal winning author Neil Gaiman is about a panda named Chu who learns that even young children are capable of big things. Bundle this book up with other bedtime favorites like Goodnight Moon and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for a great multicultural gift.
Using beautiful illustrations and an economy of words, this book shares the spirit and energy of a dim sum meal. On a visit to a bustling dim sum restaurant, a family picks their favorite little dishes from the steaming trolleys filled with dumplings, cakes, buns and tarts.
Many early children’s books deal with the basics of colors, shapes and sounds. In English and Mandarin Chinese, Belle Yang’s bilingual book of colors celebrates the natural world with simple concepts and beautiful, bold illustrations.
This lovely multicultural book for kids pairs classic English-language nursery rhymes, stories and songs with their counterparts from China, organized into themes like Inside, Outside, Party and Play.
In this clever retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend just in time for Chinese New Year. Totally adorable.
Silver, gold and jade jewelry, typically in the form of bracelets or pendants are a popular gift from immediate family or close friends. The jewelry commonly features good luck characters and charms that jingle pleasantly to keep bad spirits away.
A simple and elegant jade pendant hung from a yellow gold chain. It’s made with a small, thin pendant that’s perfectly-sized for a child.
A stunning necklace featuring a carved green jade pendant encircling a yellow gold Chinese good fortune character.
A beautiful take on a classic zodiac jewelry gift. Celebrate a baby born this year with an elegant pewter pendant of a Chinese character.
A light green jade coin, symbolizing perfection and nobility, hung from a cotton cord. It’s a necklace with a simple design that focuses attention on the beautiful peace of jade at its center.
A playful, contemporary ox pin sure to become an instant keepsake that can be worn for years to come. The delightful ox strikes a confident pose, eyes forward and ready for an adventure.
It’s believed that whatever the mother experiences during pregnancy is passed on directly to the child. As a result, it’s most appropriate to choose a baby shower gift that bestows good luck on the mother, rather than the baby. These baby shower gift ideas are meant to improve the mother’s surroundings and bring her good luck.
Books of poetry that provide a mental escape or bring up fond memories, such as this collection from Edward Thomas, are a favorite Chinese gift for expecting mothers.
Soothing music, such as this album of piano pieces by classical composer Johannes Brahms, can create a calming environment for mother and baby.
Pleasing fragrances, such as this d’anjou lychee soy candle from Kobo, can help create a welcoming, intimate atmosphere around the house.
Traditionally, it would be considered bad luck to hold a shower before the baby’s birth, a natural response to high infant mortality rates in the past. These days, however, baby showers are increasingly common among contemporary mothers, so don’t be surprised if you find an invitation in your mailbox.
Bear in mind that a Chinese family’s focus during pregnancy is on caring for the mother, to ensure a healthy birth. While any of the baby essentials above are appropriate gifts, in the spirit of a Western baby shower, consider instead to choose a baby shower gift that bestows good luck on the mother, rather than the baby. Soothing music, comforting books or sweetly-scented candles would reflect this sensibility.
According to custom, mother and baby spend the first month following birth at home to rest and recuperate. It’s after these 30 days are up that you may be invited to meet the new baby along with other family and friends at a traditional celebration called a red egg and ginger party.
Guests receive red eggs, representing luck and unity, and pickled ginger, which rebalances the body after childbirth. In return, the most appropriate gift to bring is a Chinese red envelope filled with lucky money that bestows prosperity on the new baby. Most guests combine a red envelope with a physical baby item to make their gift feel more fun and substantial.
You know this get together, right? Good friends invite you over to meet the 6 week old baby and the door opens to reveal two exhausted parents with tales of late night feedings and spit ups. This is “meeting the baby” in the era of harried dual income families and minimal parental leave.
As a gesture of support to the new parents, it’s still appropriate to bring a Chinese red envelope filled with lucky money, along with a physical baby gift. As is the custom here in the United States, a frozen casserole to save the couple from cooking is also welcome.