How to Create a Baby Registry: From A to Z

Article By:
Juliet Spurrier, MD and the BabyGearLab Review Editors

Last Updated:
Monday
August 1, 2016

Share:

Registering for Baby


Finding out you are pregnant can be exciting. It can also inspire feelings and emotions you've never experienced before. Despite all the planning (or not), it can all feel overwhelming.

In this article, we'll take you by the hand and guide you to the best ways to create a baby registry, including where to host it, and what to register for. This article is split into four main sections:

Working Backwards from the Shower Invite


Most people let friends and family members know about their registry (or multiple registries) through an email, an online baby shower invite, or a mailed invitation. Typically this comes from a close friend or family member and includes the pertinent information for gift givers to find just the right gift for baby and mom.

Here's an example:

This email should include links to all of the locations where you have built a registry. Later in this article we will discuss why this should be as few as possible, but for now just make a note that you need to tell your friends and family where to look for the potential gifts you want.

Shower Invite Stress
For some people, the urgency of starting a registry before the shower invite hits the post office creates a lot of stress. Suddenly you find yourself needing to make tons of decisions about specific products the likes of which you probably know nothing about. We know; we've been there. Though this can feel overwhelming, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Better yet, we're going to help simplify the process for you.

Creating a Baby Registry


Before you pick all the cool gadgets to put on your registry you need to decide where to register. Picking a registry site can feel more daunting than picking individual items. Each site has different advantages and sorting through which offer the best discounts, the easiest returns, and all the bells and whistles that make registering fun and easy is a full day project. To help you, we scoured the top baby registry websites to provide you with a comparative, unbiased view on what makes some sites stand out and others not user-friendly.

General Helpful Tips


Throughout this article, you will periodically see "Helpful Tip" boxes like this. We use these to help call out words of wisdom that might save you time, effort, or money.

Less is More


There are no truer words than keep it simple when choosing must-have items for baby. Our advice is to limit your baby registry to non-negotiable items for baby's first 6 months. This is where gift cards come in handy for future, more well-informed purchases. The exception to this would be registering for a handful of 6-12 month seasonally-appropriate clothing.

By beginning with less, parents gain a better idea of what they really need and what their baby prefers. Too much too soon can clutter up space and some items may not be used in the end. For example, disposable diapers. Let's say you get boxes of one brand in each size, then you realize that their quality is lacking, they leak, or worse, they give baby a recurrent diaper rash. Or baby bottles, you stock up on a particular brand because they are supposedly the best, but baby refuses them. Believe us, these things happen!

Contents of Finland's maternity box in the mid-1900's.
Contents of Finland's Maternity Box
 
A country that exudes the idea of simplicity is Finland. Since 1938 mothers have been supplied a maternity package that contains all the essentials baby will need when born. It includes basic items like diapers, bath products, clothes, and sleep sacks, as well as, a small mattress that fits inside the box for baby's first bed. The project, intended to give all Finnish babies an equal footing, has also helped their country have one of the lowest infant mortality rates, and proves just how little you really need to give baby a good start.

Purchase in Stages


Buying baby products in stages, as baby develops, is the way to go for many reasons. The best benefit is that you will know your little one's personality and your parenting style once they are a real little human squirming in front of you. In addition, having a baby lands parents in the midst of other parents. In no time you will be hearing "the buzz" on various products you supposedly must have. Your cumulative experience and new wisdom might steer you in a different direction after baby is born, and you may find that you have no use for something that felt like a necessity before. This can help prevent overspending and sitting on items that baby has outgrown or have expired.

The second perk of getting what baby needs when baby needs it, is that you are more likely to have products that are up-to-date. In the baby industry, recalls, model updates, and cutting edge gear with new twists are constantly coming out. Buying only what you need should prevent inadvertently using items that are expired or recalled.

Helpful Tip: If you have hand-me-down items or purchase something second hand, make sure to check for product recalls.

Make Your Preferences Clear


If you have a preference toward a specific nursery color or theme, make it known early on. Remember that gift givers want to get you something you'll love, so don't hesitate in politely guiding them. Holding back for the sake of politeness can result in a myriad of items you don't really want or need.

Make it Easy


If you have people in your life that prefer going to a store for special gifts instead of online, we recommend including one widely accessible chain store on your registry. For example, Target offers both in-store and online experiences that can speak to any kind of gift giver.

Include Mama


You are the big deal when baby is still in utero, but some moms can get lost in the shuffle when baby comes to town, so be sure to include items for yourself in the registry. Let's face it, you are going to need some basic merchandise, whether it's for breastfeeding or well-deserved pampering.

Encourage Thematic Gift Baskets and Gift Cards


Encourage theme gift baskets for those items that seem boring but are really necessary. For example, a health and wellness basket for baby could contain a snot sucker, saline spray, thermometer, infant Tylenol, nail trimmers, cotton swabs, alcohol swabs, non-petroleum ointment, and a baby toothbrush. Other kit ideas: bath and skin care, nursing supplies, a board book library, or a box of pampering goodies for mom (bath salts and essential oils). Also, requesting gift cards on your registry is a great way to make future purchases when you have a better idea of what you need.

Gifts of Giving


Some gifts aren't as tangible as others, and as such moms forget to consider them and gift givers forget how valuable they are. Gifts of giving after baby has arrived are often more appreciated than any other. Any gesture that helps mom is incredibly meaningful when fatigue sets in; babysitting, meal deliveries, or help doing laundry can be invaluable. If you are comfortable, consider requesting help with household chores to decrease stress and worries.

Add Appreciation Notes in Your Registry for the Mundane Items


Adding little notes about why you are choosing certain items is a great way to encourage the purchase of mundane but purposeful items like a nasal aspirator. Telling someone how much a humidifier is going to come in handy for baby with a cold, might bring out an inner hero and get you the humidifier of your dreams. You may want the cute items on your registry, but it's the boring stuff you'll really appreciate.

Where to Register


There are a lot of baby registry sites out there. We have done the homework on what makes each unique. Registry related sites come in 4 flavors; there are well-known vendors like Amazon, Babies R Us, and BuyBuyBaby. Then there are the big box stores like Target and Walmart that offer the advantage of both in-store and online shopping experiences with a relatively wide selection (Babies R Us and BuyBuyBaby have stores, but they aren't as geographically dense as Target and Walmart). Last, there are the high-end specialty shops like Pottery Barn and Land of Nod that offer very selective, high quality goods. These stores may have the exact crib or glider you'd like. To further muddy the waters, if you choose to register at multiple places, there are registry aggregator sites that take all the individual registries and put them in one place.

Selecting Your Registry Site


When comparing sites, considering the types of baby categories and products offered at each site is the the first step. Just as important are the amenities and perks that make the site a pleasure to use for everyone. We feel the following factors are the most important to consider when choosing where register:

Selection


Selecting a registry site that offers a wide selection of baby items in addition to items for mom, household goods, and gift cards is a smart idea. Finding a site where you can register for at least 80% of your goods is ideal.

Shipping


Choose a site that offers free or special shipping. Many sites have free shipping on registry items or discount shipping based on price, using special cards, or signing up for a membership. This can add up to significant savings for gift giving instead of gift shipping.

Return Policy


Registering for precisely what you need can help decrease the likelihood of returns, but you never know. The more of a hassle returns are, the less likely you will be to bother. Pick a site with easy returns, just in case it is a necessity.

Discounts and Coupons


Some sites offer registry completion discounts for items in your registry that have not been purchased by a certain date. This can help you finalize all your buying needs while saving money. Some sites also offer discounts for becoming a member and/or email coupons for signing up. These savings can add up over time and result in big savings overall.

Gift Cards


Gift cards are a great way to buy diapers for growing babies in the size, brand, and style you choose after trial and error. They are also a great way to get items for baby as they grow. Some sites only offer store specific cards, while others have general cash type cards. The cash type cards offer more versatility down the road and don't lock you into single store. In addition, cash cards can come in handy for a last minute trip to the store for baby supplies.

Website's Ease of Use


Grandparents and older generations sometimes struggle with online purchases or navigating complex websites (especially if it bounces from site to site). Look for easy to use sites that offer links to your registry so it is easy to find and are relatively intuitive to navigate. This makes buying items easy and quick with a few clicks.

In-Store Purchasing


Not only do some folks prefer to buy in person but some find an in store experience easier than online purchases. Being able to hold and view products before buying can make the giving experience feel more personal.

Adding it Up


We analyzed and compared the most popular U.S. baby registry sites with the above factors in mind. We have some recommendations for you that will make the registry process more fun. After all, this should be fun, you're having a baby!

Should I register at multiple stores?
No, not if you can help it. Keep your list on one main site. Keeping lists at multiple stores makes it harder to keep track of what you have registered for, what has been purchased, and what remains. Getting duplicate gifts is a hassle for you and disappointing for your friends and relatives.

One Main Registry: Why It Makes Sense


Keeping your list on one site will keep you clear and focused on getting everything you need to make the first 6 months of babyhood as easy as possible. Because baby registries can be time consuming and confusing, we think it is best to keep the process simple by registering on one main site for the majority of your items, and we suggest you make it a site that offers more than baby-centric items.

By picking a site with a large variety of products for your main registry, you can register for almost everything in one stop. You will be less likely to get overwhelmed and more likely to stay focused on just the essentials. On a site like Amazon you can find everything from diapers and diaper pails, to dish soap and laundry detergent gentle enough for baby. Sending gift givers to one place with a complete list will increase your chances of receiving what you need. People can easily become overwhelmed when presented with too many lists; picking a main site will help them as much as it helps you.

The last reason to pick a main site (or just one), is to decrease the chances of getting multiplies of the same item. Spreading registry items on different lists or aggregator sites can lead to delayed or unreported purchases that are not removed from the registry. If gift givers can't tell what has been purchased, you run the risk of receiving items you don't need.

The table above provides a comparison of features offered by the Top 5 baby retailer registry sites.
The table above provides a comparison of features offered by the Top 5 baby retailer registry sites.

Our Recommendations


After extensive research, setting up registries, and analyzing all the perks and problems with each site (see our comparison table), we have chosen Amazon as our top recommendation. Amazon offers a simple registry process and a selection that includes everything from nursery furniture to cleaning products. In addition, Amazon has two nice programs for discounts and perks called Amazon Moms and Amazon Prime. Some of the sites we reviewed didn't offer anything special for registering and/or had a limited selection that prevented them from being a contender for a main site. To keep things simple, with fewer than 2 registries, Amazon is tough to beat.

Where should I host my registry?
Amazon. After analyzing the registry service at 15 different retailers, and 3 different "aggregator" sites, we found Amazon's package to be the most compelling. Read on to learn why.

Best Overall Baby Registry


Amazon.com


When comparing and contrasting Amazon's Baby Registry to other popular registries like Target, Babies R Us, Diapers.com, Buy buy baby, and Walmart, in addition to high-end retailers such as Babyearth, Giggle, and The Land of Nod, we were quickly impressed by the number and variety of products offered on Amazon that appeal to a range of budgets and styles. They also offer a myriad of perks like free shipping (for orders over $35, Prime members), a great return policy, and a sweet one-time registry completion discount. If that isn't enough, the website is easy to use and navigate.

Selection


Amazon has the largest selection of any of the sites we looked at, period. They offer almost everything for baby and beyond; it is entirely possible to get everything you need from this one site. Many of the store specific sites have limited selection on baby items and some don't offer other items at all. While a store like Target might be offer detergent and diaper cream, The Land of Nod does not. Kohl's and JCPenny might have a larger variety of clothes than Target, but they don't offer the more mundane supplies you'll need like nail trimmers and thermometers. Even Walmart and Target don't offer the sheer number of items or brand selection that Amazon has.

Shipping


Amazon has several nice shipping options. Amazon Prime (a paid member service) has free shipping for members who pay the yearly fee. Prime entitles them to free shipping on many items, streaming video and music, and free cloud storage space. Amazon Moms (a free membership service) also offers deals on shipping with possible free shipping. Amazon also offers "Super Saver" shipping which is free shipping on orders over $35. Sites like Walmart and Babies R Us offer free shipping on orders over $49, higher than Amazon, and sites like Buy buy Baby and Land of Nod have no special shipping options, but charge based on the price of the purchased item. Using a site that offers primarily free shipping can save gift givers money. We love that Amazon has so many potentially free shipping options compared to other sites.

Return Policy


Amazon has a relatively simple return policy. Most items from your registry have a 90 day return policy that is initiated by the registry owner through a user friendly online interface. Your refund for the gift will be credited via an Amazon gift card, which works the same as cash on the Amazon site. Even if you don't find a replacement for the returned item, you will still be able to use the gift card for other essentials like diapers or breast milk storage bags. Unfortunately, returns for 3rd party items purchased on Amazon must be initiated by the gift giver, and the giver is reimbursed not the parent, but we still think this is a small inconvenience when compared to other online stores. Kohl's and JCPenny only offer in store credit on returns, and both Buy buy Baby and Land of Nod include restocking fees on some items. Being able to initiate a return online at any time of day with a pick up at your door by UPS is a big perk for weary new moms. We like that Amazon has a clear and easy to use return system that doesn't require a trip to a store or post office.

Discounts / Coupons


Amazon has many opportunities for discounts and coupons through their Prime and Amazon Moms memberships. In addition, they have daily Gold Box deals and Lightning Deals that work like limited time coupons and often include baby centric items. They also offer on-site coupons for everyday items for baby and parents. Thirty days prior to your due date, Amazon offers a registry competition discount of 10% off items remaining on your list, 15% for Amazon Mom members. Several other sites we reviewed offered a completion discount, like Diapers.com and Target, similar to Amazon's. However, Giggle and Walmart did not offer any discount for registry completion. Babies R Us does offer a discount, but their offer is vague and doesn't specify the discount amount. Popular baby site, Buy buy Baby, also doesn't offer much information on completion discounts, but they will send you a certificate via email as the due date draws near. We like that Amazon's policy is clear and up front so parents know what to expect and can plan ahead.

Gift Cards


Amazon offers loads of gift card options, including but not limited, to Amazon gift cards. You can add gift cards from stores like Dominos, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Subway, and more. While most registry items should be about baby, having gift cards to use for supplies after baby arrives can be really helpful. Hungry and too tired to cook? Grab your Subway gift card. Most registry sites offer gift cards, but they are often limited to site specific cards, like Babies R Us and Kohl's. Target and Walmart however, offer cash type cards for purchase (one factor in our choosing Target as our second registry option) which can be a great tool for future buying decision because they work the same as cash and can be used almost anywhere.

Usability


Amazon is a user friendly site with lots of help and customer support available via online chat or by phone. In our experience there is very little you can't do on your own or quickly find the solution for. Their registry is easy to set up, and manage. Their universal registry button makes adding items from other websites a snap (more on this below), and adding comments or suggestions to each item to encourage friends to make a purchase is a breeze. Compared to some of the other sites we tried, Amazon offers an unmatched user experience. In our experience, Walmart's website was caused Internet Explorer to crash twice while we tried to set up a registry. Diapers.com required so many clicks to add items, we thought we had added things to our registry when we hadn't.

Runner-Up


Target


Target offers a nice, easy to use registry site that can be created in store and/or online. This can be a best of both worlds option for anyone who likes to see items in person before they buy or add to a list. The online selection is larger than in the store, with Super Target (Target stores with a grocery section and more selection overall) carrying more items than a regular Target, but there are still plenty of items in store that you can register for all the essentials. You'll find lots of items from clothes to cribs, and car seats to strollers from a store that has a great return policy and nice shipping options.

Target has good prices, a relatively large selection, and a friendly in store environment that many people love. They have lots of gift card options including cash cards, and they allow returns in store for items purchased online. The only real downside to Target is they don't have the same level of selection that Amazon has. However, when used as a backup registry option it can give friends and family a place to buy in person if they prefer. We liked Target over their closest competitor, Walmart, because of their easier to use website, their 15% completion discount (Walmart has none), and their baby specific coupons available via mail or with a mobile device.

Specialty Registry Sites


While we think it is best to keep it simple and limit the number of places you register, there are reasons you might want to consider registering at more than one site. While some of the larger registration sites like Amazon have ridiculously huge selections, there might be specific items you are looking for that can only be found at a specialty location or from a specific store. Things like your dream nursery furniture and personal mementos might be hard to find on your main registry site no matter how many options they offer. This is one time when registering at specialty places might make sense. The key is to limit the number of items at the specialty store to the bare minimum of things you truly must have and making sure none of the products overlap with items on a different registry list. Be sure to double check for item availability on Amazon, there are a lot of things on this site you may not have realized you could get there.
Specialty Crib and Bedding from Land of Nod
Specialty Crib and Bedding from Land of Nod

Best Spot for Nursery Furniture: Land of Nod


Land of Nod is a relatively high end store with lots of cool and unique items to peruse. From fun bookshelves to neat cribs this site has some furniture you might not be able to find elsewhere. There is no doubt that the fun décor and nursery options available on the Land of Nod can get your creative juices flowing for the nursery of your dreams.

Registry Aggregators? Meh.


If you do find yourself in the company of more than 2 registry lists, you might be tempted to consider a registry aggregator, like the ones found on theBump, myregistry, or BabyLi.st. These sites compile the items on each registry into one location so gift givers can explore all your registry requests in one place to avoid bouncing from site to site. Some of the sites even offer an easy to use button you can place on your favorites bar that allows you to add items from any website on the internet to your registry (something Amazon also offers). They also offer features like links for sharing, insert cards for shower invites, and personal pages for telling your story. This all sounds like a great way to keep track of your registries with ease, but after attempting to use the sites we found they are fraught with potential issues and room for human error.

The table above includes our comparison of Registry Aggregators based on our tests.
The table above includes our comparison of Registry Aggregators based on our tests.

Why We Suggest Not Using Them


Most of the sites we reviewed have some flaws that can cause all kinds of trouble for registered parents and gift givers alike. We reviewed thebump.com, myregistry.com, babyli.st.com, and Amazon (while not a true aggregator site, it does have an add button for outside websites). From slow sync times, to adding items without their corresponding details, and some level of self-reporting from gift givers, we think the aggregators simply aren't good enough to merit the time and hassle of setting them up.

Our Test and Results


We set up registries on myregistry and thebump (Babyli.st was not tested because it is not really an aggregator; see more below). We sync'd our individual store registries from Target, Amazon, Babies R Us, buybuyBaby, and Land of Nod where they would sync. We also used the add button offered by myregistry to add individual items from those stores without putting them on our individual store registries (thebump does not offer this feature). Then we purchased items from the registry aggregators and the individual stores to see how well they sync'd and how long it would take. The results of our experiment are detailed below.

The Babylist site requires that all gift givers report their purchase and mark the items as reserved/purchased because BabyLi.st doesn't sync to any site, ever. They either provide a link on their website to your other registries (something you could easily do via email), or your personal consultant will add the items to your list for you (nice personal touch, but the possibility of human error concerns us). In addition, they encourage users to delete their individual store registries to avoid confusion, but this means you'll be relying on their add button which doesn't capture details of the item you really want like style, color, size, or price. In the end, given that it relies solely on gift givers to complete a convoluted process after making a purchase that isn't user friendly for givers, it has significant potential for multiples of the same items being purchased.

MyRegistry will sync to up to 55 different stores, but items added with the button (not part of the 55 stores) will need to be updated by the purchaser. The site does encourage gift givers to report their purchases, but they did seem to sync regardless of whether or not we reported the purchase. Sync time took anywhere between 20 min to an hour, but everything did eventually sync. In general, this is the best of the aggregators, but it still requires that you maintain it and set up the stores to sync and we feel this is a hassle and not necessary if you register at Amazon. However, if you want to use an aggregator and we can't talk you out of it, this is the one to choose.

The Bump doesn't have an add button feature (this limits what items you can add), and only syncs to 15 stores (most are similar and offer the same kinds of goods), so it is limiting and not the best at offering one stop for all items. It also has a delay in syncing which means it can take up to 3 days to start and set up your completed registry (we had to try setting it up twice). In our experiment thebump had difficulty finding all our individual stores to sync, and it never did sync with our Target registry continuing to show items we added a month before but nothing new. We had trouble syncing individual store registries that thebump said it would sync including Land of Nod, so we used their manual button to add the registry. Unfortunately, what they don't tell you is when you use this feature it doesn't actually sync the store registry it just adds a link to the registry. Yu cannot delete this link or undo it. In addition, we tried to "hide" it with their hide feature which did not work. Thebump is difficult to use, was unable to find all our individual store registries, did not sync purchases consistently, and in general caused more headache and trouble trying to get it to work than is worth it. In our experience this site doesn't offer enough features or stores to sync to, and it doesn't function well enough to bother with the hassle of setting it up. We spent over 6 hours attempting to set up a registry on this site and it never did sync our purchases properly even 5 days later.

Amazon is sort of a universal registry; you can add any item from any site to your registry using their universal button, but the items from outside websites do not update once purchased (it relies on the gift giver to indicate the purchase). However, we think this is less of a risk given that you are likely to find most of what you want on Amazon itself.

With so much room for human error, the increased hassle and time it takes to set them up, and the increased risk of getting multiples of the same items, we think it makes sense to avoid using aggregators. If you end up with more items than you need due to late syncing or lack of self-reporting, then you will have to initiate a return process which can be time consuming and somewhat of a hassle.

We think it is just as simple and easy to include links to your individual registries in your initial shower invite or baby announcement. If you keep your registries under 3 (preferably 2), gift givers don't have much to juggle and can base their buying decisions on the kind of user experience they want to have.

Registry aggregator add buttons do not capture important item details like color, style, or price. This can be confusing for gift givers when deciding what to purchase or figuring out how much items cost. This increases the odds that you won't receive the items you need.

Universal Add Buttons


We still like Amazon for this feature. Not only do they have the largest selection around that might prevent the need for a universal button or aggregator's site altogether, but their universal button is better at adding outside website information than the competition.

None of the aggregator site buttons capture style, color, size, or price information accurately from other websites when the button is used to add registry items. Amazon also has some flaws with the details, but it at least gets the price right and allows you to input the details manually so friends and family have more information. For example we added a set of bed sheets from Pottery Barn Kids to all our aggregator registries using their "add button" if they offered it. While each button did add the web page to the registry, only the Amazon button added the right price for the item we chose in a twin size. None of the buttons added the size and color choice we wanted. Sticking with Amazon as your main registry site, and using their universal button with great thought and care, can limit the number of potential problems related to getting what you want.

How to Build Your Registry


Building a registry is much like going into battle; it is important to have a game plan and strategy in mind before you set out. Knowing the categories of items is the first step, but knowing how you want to add the individual items and what level of items to register for is something else altogether. We suggest you get your ducks in a row before you start so you can keep it simple and focus on the prize.

Using a Scanner to Build a Registry In-Store


While you may have found using a registry scanner to be fun and fast for your wedding, we recommend you pass on it for your baby registry.

Why?

Because registering for wedding gifts is different than baby goods. When it came to your wedding, you knew what you wanted and it was easy to figure out what products meet your needs. But, when it comes to baby products, it is a whole 'nuther ball game.

Many people say they found it easier to buy a car than buy a stroller. The reason is that they knew cars. They'd driven cars for years. They knew what they wanted in a car, and what they didn't want. But, a stroller is a strange and unknown beast used by other people, not you.

We think you're better off researching baby products online, where you can find information from our site and others that will help you figure out which products are going to best meet your needs and budget. Using a scanner in a retail store is fast, and more than that it is fun, but putting that scanner in your hand can be dangerous in the sense that you may register for items that you later decide weren't really what you wanted despite how cute they were.

We believe that making a conscious and informed decision on baby products is wise, and best done online where you have the research resources at your fingertips and the ability to easily see your list in picture form. We feel it is faster and easier to do the necessary research from a computer than on your smartphone in a store.

Building a Registry Online


Building a registry online is easier and more convenient than ever before, not to mention you can prop up your swollen feet while you do it. Being able to keep a concise list online with just a few stores loaded with the essentials is easier than going from store to store in person, walking the overwhelming aisles with scanner in hand, and no memory of what you have already put on your list and what items or category you might have missed altogether.

While every site claims to keep your private information private, we found that after registering we began to get copious amounts of junk mail and "freebies" delivered to our door. While it may be impossible to avoid this outcome, we suggest you read all privacy statements and check all boxes indicating you want privacy, do not want your information shared, and that you do not want offers from the site's "partners" to avoid being inundated with mail you don't want.

What to Register For


We recommend that you make a conscious decision on what kinds of things you hope to receive as shower gifts, and what items you plan to buy on your own. Here are three different strategies that are common for a baby registry, choosing one can help you keep your eyes on the overarching goal:
  • Register for High-Ticket Items Only — in this strategy, you focus your registry exclusively on the more expensive items. You can afford the myriad of small items like diaper cream and baby bottles yourself; with this strategy you direct friends and family to help you with the bigger stuff that might break your budget or you'd have to go without.
  • Go for the Brass Ring — this is also a pretty common strategy. With this strategy you register for everything you expect to need (and we mean everything), and hope that as many of those items as possible, both large and small, arrive as gifts. This might be a good strategy for people with large families, lots of friends, or multiple showers with various groups.
  • Build the Nest — in this strategy, you focus just on the items you'll need in the first 3 months. The goal of this strategy is to help you prepare for your baby's arrival, but skip items that you don't need to worry about until later. This approach is very practical, in that it spares you from having to make more decisions than you need to now (let's face it, you've got a lot on your plate), and it prevents your home from being inundated with every baby product under the sun.

We'll break down each of these strategies below in more detail.

Register for High-Ticket Items


If you are going to focus your registry on high-ticket items, keep it short. That will help telegraph your strategy to friends and family (i.e. help us out with the expensive stuff!). In your Shower Invite, you explain that you've registered for more expensive items that are a challenge for your budget, and encourage friends and family members to team up on those items. These little steps will increase the likelihood that you'll get more of these crucial items. This is a great strategy for parents with a limited budget, those who might get lots of small stuff as hand me downs, or those who want to choose the small stuff as they go.

Here are examples of types of high ticket items you might want to focus on:
  • Baby Furniture — these are expensive, and your friendly Aunt Mabel might love being the benefactor of the perfect place for baby to sleep.
  • Breast Pump — A quality breast pump can make your life a lot easier, especially if you'll be returning to work after maternity leave. Unfortunately, the best breast pumps are expensive, so if a friend or relative is willing to help with this purchase our Breast Pump Review and corresponding article, How to Choose the Best Breast Pump, can help you find just the right one. If you want a more introductory overview, check out our summary of breast feeding essentials here.
  • Stroller — While not likely an item you'll need at the get go, it is one of the more high dollar items when it comes to supplies for baby. Whether you are looking for a standard option or a jogging stroller they come in a variety of styles and price ranges, it can help to do your research ahead of time by reading our Best Stroller Review before adding the perfect option to your registry.

Go for the Brass Ring


Who doesn't want it all? In a perfect world baby would show up at your door with everything they might ever need following right behind them. Given that this is unlikely to happen, one of the more tried and true strategies for registering is to go for the gold and get as much as you can to ease the burden of future buying on your wallet. This strategy works best if you stick to the categories and list all the items in each category you foresee needing in the upcoming year. If you are in doubt or undecided, add a few cash gift cards to the list for those things you didn't plan on.

If you have a large family or loads of friends there is a good chance you can get most of what you need with this method. If you tack on the potential for multiple showers with work friends or your old sorority sisters then you up your odds of filling in all the gaps and heading into parenthood fully prepared. Best case scenario, you get everything you wanted; worst case, you still have items left to buy with your completion discount.

An example of the brass ring would be registering for items from each category listed below in the main registry categories. This would include multiple items from each category that suit different purposes to cover all bases.

Build the Nest


This is a great options for those who might lean more toward a minimalist style or have a smaller home with less expendable space. This option is registering for the bare essentials that new parents will need for baby to get a good start in the first 3 months of life. This registry sticks to the basics and avoids the big items or the want to have items as opposed to must have items.

When you stick to building the nest you want to think about all the items baby will need as opposed the additional items that might be cute or make life easier but aren't a necessity. The idea is to get the goods you need to provide for baby without all the add on items that create clutter and may possibly go unused. To be honest there really is very little that a new baby needs in the first 3 months, and most of it doesn't need to be bought at a store. However, you might consider with this method adding 1 or 2 bigger or more costly items just in case a kind relative is hoping to spend a little more money and wants to purchase a larger item like a stroller or bedside bassinet.

An example of build the nest would be to register for only the necessities from each category and potentially skipping a few categories altogether. You might not registry for anything under the outdoor with baby category, and you might only pick 1 or 2 items under nursery like a changing pad while skipping the changing table.

Main Registry Categories


In our Baby Essentials article we will discuss the specific items applicable to each category along with our favorites; for now, the following are the most common baby registry categories to start thinking about. Knowing what kind of items you should register for can simplify the registering process and keep you focused on your registry goals.
  • Car Seat, Strollers, & On the Go
  • Breast Feeding
  • Bottle Feeding
  • General Diapering
  • Disposable Diapering
  • Cloth Diapering
  • Soothing
  • Sleep
  • Nursery
  • Health
  • Bathing and Skin Care
  • Layette (Fancy way of saying clothes)
  • Toys and Activity
  • Outdoor with Baby

Our Baby Essentials Article
You'll find our specific recommendations on favorite baby products, organized by the age of your baby, in our Baby Essentials article.


Don't Forget to Add Items for Mom and Dad


While it is natural to focus on items for baby, don't feel guilty about registering for items for mom and dad. Friends and family want to help you prepare for your baby, and they know this includes things that you'll need as well.

For Mom

  • Rocker/Glider — One of the most used items after baby arrives is a rocker or glider for mom to nurse in and for both parents to soothe baby to sleep. Most baby's enjoy the gliding motion a rocker/glider can provide, it is a good spot for bonding with baby and getting a little rest in.

Nurseryworks Sleepytime Rocker is a quality rocker with classic lines and simple styling that works well with many décor options. The Babyletto Trapeze Glider is also a cool option that has a higher back so even the tallest parent can rest their head back. It offers smooth and effortless gliding, full 360 degree swivel, and is made with products free of Formaldehyde + PBDE(S).
  • Bath Salts — Bath salts can soothe the skin, help you relax, and relieve aching muscles. Toward the end of pregnancy taking a nice warm bath can make all the difference in how you feel. We like to keep it simple with Epsoak Epsom Salt that dissolves relatively quickly and is natural and fragrance free made from magnesium sulfate in crystal form.
  • Skin Care — When your body is being stretched to the max with a growing baby it can get kind of itchy and some women are prone to developing stretch marks. While the jury is still out on the definitive method for preventing stretch marks, body oils and salves like Motherlove Pregnant Belly Salve and Motherlove Pregnant Belly Oil can help relieve the itching and discomfort of your growing parts like belly and breasts.
  • Mom Kit — Mom kits can be as individual as each mom. Depending on your personal interests and style this kit can include everything from a fun book to read such as Mama Knows Breast, pampering products for before birth, during labor, or after birth in the hospital or at home. Gift cards for favorite snacks or maid services might also be good add on items for a kit.
  • BookHeading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality is a nice book about what you can expect and what you might think about ahead of time before baby arrives. Mothers will gain some confidence in what to expect when baby comes home after reading this book. The book includes information from feeding and sleeping, to sickness and vaccines, and just about everything in between.

For Dad


Don't forget about dad when shopping or building a registry. While he might lack the ability to grow humans, he is likely just as excited as you are about the impending arrival of his baby.
  • Dad Diaper Bag — If you want your fella to do the daily grind work of lugging the diaper bag we suggest you get him a bag he won't be embarrassed to sport. Our favorite dad bags to date are the PacaPod Picos Pack and Boken Every Day Bag.
  • Dad Kit — Putting together a great kit for new dads can help ensure they feel included in what can often become a baby and mom-centric event. While they may not be doing the "heavy lifting" they shouldn't be left out in the cold either. Confessions of the World's Best Father is a fun book that can get dads geared up for fatherhood and offer a little bit of sanity to the process of going from man to dad. If you need some comic relief and a dose of reality to calm down anxiety, this book is definitely the solution.
  • Smoke & CO Detector — Be sure to double check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and if you don't have them it is time to get them. We also suggest you consider a dedicated unit in baby's room so you are alerted to potential danger as quickly as possible. First Alert Wireless Photoelectric Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a great option for baby's room to ensure a safe and carbon monoxide free environment.
  • Book — Keeping with our theme of simplicity, we suggest parents peruse Simplicity Parenting. This book is a great tool that can help parents relax and enjoy parenthood. Often less is more when it comes to raising children which is easy to forget in the face of so many fun new products to purchase. Other books that can help dad prep home and heart for baby are The Baby Bonding Book for Dads and Healthy Child Healthy World.
  • Journal — Journaling about fatherhood and the anticipation of new baby can be a great tool for making it over the hurdles dads will soon face. In addition, it is a good way of recording feelings and experiences for your little one to read when they get older. A journal like this can make a great gift for adult child that they are sure to treasure for a lifetime. If dads need a little inspiration, any father will laugh out loud browsing through one father's adventurous stab at journaling Confessions of the World's Best Father.

Dr. Juliet Spurrier is founder and Mom-in-Chief at BabyGearLab
Juliet Spurrier, MD
About the Author
Dr. Juliet Baciocco Spurrier is a board certified pediatrician, mother of two, and founder of BabyGearLab. Juliet earned her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Italian Literature from the University of California at Berkeley and her Medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington DC. She completed her pediatric residency at the Doernbecher Children's Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR, and subsequently practiced pediatrics in both the Pacific Northwest and Silicon Valley. Juliet serves as Mom-in-Chief at BabyGearLab, where she oversees all baby product review activity, assuring that each review delivers on our commitment to quality.

  • Share this article:

 

Follow Us