Baby New Year Origins and Symbolism

Updated November 14, 2018
Happy New Year baby

If you are wondering where the Baby New Year origin begins, you are not alone. Most people think of a little baby wearing only a diaper, sash and top hat upon his head smiling while bringing in the New Year. Modern times have brought more to the meaning of Baby New Year than a cute little baby.

The Origins of Baby New Year

New Year's represents the change of the year, in that twelve months have passed and dates back 4000 years.

Ancient Greek Baby New Year

The Baby New Year origins began in 600 B.C. with the Greeks, though the early Egyptians can also be given credit for using a baby as a symbol of a new year. The baby represents rebirth. The Greeks believed that their god of Wine, Dionysus, was reborn on New Year's as the spirit of fertility. They would parade around with a baby in a basket to represent the rebirth of Dionysus.

Early Christian Baby New Year

Even though Christians felt this was a pagan tradition and denounced using a baby to bring in the New Year, the popularity of the symbol won, though differently than was intended. The end of the year is commemorated with a different baby as the birth of baby Jesus became a special celebration.

Modern American New Year's Baby

In modern America, the New Year's Baby was popularized by a series of covers for The Saturday Evening Post created by Joseph Christian Leyendecker. From 1907 to 1943 he made over 300 covers each depicting a baby and a timely cultural topic.

Meaning of Baby New Year

Baby New Year represents "in with the new, out with the old." You may have seen cartoons showing Father Time depicted as an old man with a long gray beard. The story goes that Baby New Year will grow throughout the year into Father Time. At the end of the year, Father Time will hand over his responsibilities to the next Baby New Year.

Baby New Year First Born Contests

As a baby New Year's tradition, many cities and hospitals have created a tradition where the first baby born that year represents "Baby New Year." Often this child gets local news coverage and in many cases gifts such as savings bonds or free diapers as a birthday gift. Many companies have jumped on the promotional bandwagon of offering free stuff for New Year's babies.

First Baby Gifts, Baby Bonds, or Cash Prizes

The first baby born at a hospital, in a city, or in a country is likely to receive special gifts from a variety of places. Many local hospitals and media stations will offer a baby bond to the first five or ten babies born that year. It's not uncommon for national companies to offer a large prize for the very first baby born and advertise it heavily.

2018 Regional New Year Baby Prizes

In Montgomery County, Illinois, the tradition of giving a gift to the first baby born in the county each year has been ongoing since 1936 and will continue. Some prizes awarded to the first baby born in 2018 included:

  • Gift cards ranging from $10 to $25 from dozens of area businesses
  • A $25 savings account
  • A case of baby food

2018 First U.S. New Year Baby Prizes

The first baby born in the U.S. in 2018 was born in Guam and received gifts totaling nearly $4000 thanks to company Archway, Inc. including:

  • A gift basket worth about $200 from the family of the first baby born in the U.S. in 2017
  • $500 cash
  • A year's supply of diapers
  • Gas, restaurant, and shopping gift cards worth over $500
  • Baby formula

Controversy Over the Winner

While most people celebrate the first baby of a new year, new year baby benefits can also become a media nightmare for families. For example, the first baby born in Austria in 2018 was pictured with her mother, who was wearing a headscarf. This prompted many online commenters to attack the family with racist hatred in what should have been the happiest time of their lives.

Baby New Year Photo Contests

Another type of Baby New Year contest you may find includes Baby photo contests where you send a picture of your baby born that year.

Gerber's Annual Spokesbaby Contest

Every year Gerber hosts a photo contest to find their next spokesbaby. The contest typically runs through the month of October to find a winner to represent the brand during the following year. The winner gets to be the face of Gerber on social media and their family wins $50,000.

Finding Baby Contests

There are many ways to find contests and prizes. Your local hospital should be aware of most local contests that are happening and be able to let you know if you won. Some other ways to find out about contests include:

  • Check with your local newspapers to see if they know what companies are offering different prizes and gifts for the first baby of the year.
  • Ask the local doctor's office if they offer prizes or incentives for the first baby of the new year, or if they know who does.
  • Read parenting magazines and look in the classifieds for different contests.
  • Search social media sites in late Fall for baby contests.

Claiming Your Baby's New Year Prize

If you think your baby is a winner, contact the company or organization that is offering the contest and provide them with your baby's name, date and time of birth. They will be able to provide you with the details on how to claim your prize and what steps need to be taken.

Baby New Year Origins and Symbolism