Registering for Baby
Discovering you are pregnant can be exciting and anxiety-inducing. It can also result in emotions you've never experienced from elation to strange crying for no reason. Despite all the preparation in the world (or perhaps none at all), it can feel overwhelming and exhausting sorting through the world of pregnancy and newborns.
In this article, we'll help guide you on the best way to create a baby registry, including where to host it, and what to include. This article includes four sections:
- Working Backwards from the Shower Invite
- Creating a Baby Registry
- Where to Register
- How to Build Your Registry
- What to Register For
Working Backwards from the Shower Invite
Most soon-to-be parents tell friends and family about their registry (or multiple registries) through an email, online invite, or a paper invitation. Typically, this comes from a friend or family member and includes enough details that gift givers can find the right gifts for the new arrival.Here's an example:
The correspondence should include links to your registries. Later, we will discuss why the number of registries should be limited to one or two, but for now, make a note that you need to tell your people where to find the gifts you want.
For some, the urgency of starting a registry before the shower invite creates a lot of stress. Suddenly, you need to make tons of decisions about things you know nothing about. We get it. We've been there. This can seem overwhelming, but take comfort that you are not alone. We're going to help you simplify the process.
Creating a Baby Registry
Before picking all of the neat gadgets for your registry, you need to decide where to register. Picking a registry site can be more daunting than picking the gear. Each site has advantages and sorting through the discounts, return policies, and the bells and whistles that make registering fun is an all-day project. To help, we scoured registry websites to create a comparative, unbiased review of what makes some sites a standout and others less user-friendly.
General Helpful Tips
Less is More
There are no truer words than keep it simple. Our advice is to limit your baby registry to non-negotiable items for the first six months. This method is where gift cards come in handy for future purchases. The exception would be registering for a handful of 6-12 month seasonally-appropriate clothing.
By beginning with less, parents can gain a clear idea of what they need and what their baby prefers. Too much too soon, can create clutter and items that go unused. A good example is disposable diapers. You could get boxes of one brand in each size, and then realize they are poor quality and give your baby a diaper rash. Believe us, these things happen!
Purchase in Stages
Buying baby gear in stages, as your baby grows, is the best way to go for many parents. The best benefit is your little one's personality and your parenting style can influence what you need. Also, having a baby usually results in meeting other parents. You'll hear "the buzz" on products you "must-have". Your cumulative experience and new wisdom might steer you in a new direction after your baby is born, and you may find that you have no use for something that used to feel like a necessity. Experience and information can prevent overspending and items that expire or go unused.
The second perk of getting what baby needs when baby needs it, is that you are more likely to have current products. In the baby industry, recalls, model updates and cutting-edge gear are continually launching. Buying only what you need, prevents using items that are expired or recalled and it means the opportunity to find the latest and greatest gear possible.
Make Your Preferences Clear
If you have a preference about a specific nursery color or theme, make it known early on. Remember that a gift giver wants to get you something you'll love, so don't hesitate to guide them politely. Holding back can result in items you don't want or need.
Make it Easy
For people that prefer going to a store instead of virtual shopping, we recommend the inclusion of one chain store on your registry. A store like Target offers both in-store and online experiences that can speak to different types of gift givers.
You are a big deal while the baby is still in utero, but moms often get lost in the shuffle after the baby comes to town, so be sure to include items for yourself in the registry. You will need some basic merchandise for breastfeeding and well-deserved pampering after labor has passed.
Encourage Thematic Gift Baskets and Gift Cards
Encourage theme gift baskets for items that seem dull but are still necessary. A health and wellness basket for the 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 include bath and skin care, nursing supplies, a board book library, or a box of goodies for mom (bath salts and essential oils). Also, gift cards on a registry is a great way to make future purchases when you have a better idea of your needs.
Gifts of Giving
Some gifts aren't as tangible as others, and moms often forget to consider them and givers can forget how valuable they are. Gifts, given after the baby arrives, are often more appreciated than cute items supplied ahead of time. Any gesture that helps new moms is incredibly meaningful when fatigue sets in; some suggestions include babysitting, meal deliveries, or help with laundry. If you feel comfortable, consider requesting help with household responsibilities to decrease the stress and responsibilities that continue after your little one arrives.
Add Appreciation Notes in Your Registry for the Mundane Items
Including little notes about why you are choosing certain items is a wonderful way to encourage givers to purchase the mundane but purposeful items like a nasal aspirator. Telling friends how a good humidifier could save the day with a sick baby, might result in the humidifier you hope for. You may want the cute gear on your registry, but the boring stuff is what you'll appreciate on a day-to-day basis.
Where to Register
Once you start to look, you'll find a lot of baby registry sites. It can be more than a little overwhelming to figure out how they work. We've done the homework about what makes each site unique. Registry related sites come in a few flavors; well-known vendors like Amazon and BuyBuyBaby, big box stores like Target and Walmart with the advantage of both in-store and online shopping, and high-end specialty shops like Pottery Barn and Land of Nod for selective, high-quality goods including the exact crib or glider you've been looking for. To further muddy the waters, if you register at multiple places, there are registry aggregator sites that compile the individual registries from different locations in one place. These kinds of sites seem useful, but in our testing, weren't as user-friendly as we hoped.
Selecting Your Registry Site
When comparing sites, consider the baby categories and products offered at each. Equally important are the amenities and perks that make the site a pleasure or advantageous to use. We believe the following factors are the most important when choosing where to register:
Selecting a registry site with a wide selection of baby gear and items for mom, household goods, and gift cards is a smart idea. An ideal site will be one where you can register for at least 80% of your goods.
Look for sites with free or special reduced price shipping. Many websites offer free shipping for registry items or discount shipping based on price, using special cards, or signing up for a membership. Free shipping can add up to significant savings for gift givers.
Registering for exactly what you need, helps decrease the need for returns, but you never know. If returns are a hassle, you'll be unlikely to bother with them. Choose a site with a straightforward return policy, just in case you need it.
Discounts and Coupons
Some sites offer registry completion discounts for things in your registry that are not purchased by a specific date. This policy helps you finalize your buying needs while saving money. Some sites also offer discounts for becoming a member or email coupons when you sign up. These savings add up over time and result in big savings overall.
Gift cards are a great way to buy diapers for growing babies in the size, brand, and style you choose. They are also a great way to get what you need for your baby as they grow. Some sites only offer store specific cards, while others have general cash cards. The cash cards offer more versatility down the road and don't lock you into a single store. Also, cash cards come in handy for a last minute trip to the store for baby supplies or a quick meal from your favorite delivery service. Trust us, this can be a godsend when you are stressed and sleep-deprived.
Website's Ease of Use
Grandparents and older generations can occasionally struggle with online purchases or the navigation of complex websites (especially if it bounces back and forth from site to site). Look for easy to use registries with quick links to your registry, so it is easy to find and relatively intuitive to browse and buy. Otherwise, you could end up with something you don't want because it was on sale at your great grandmother's local pharmacy.
Some folks prefer to buy in person while others find an in-store experience easier than online purchases. Holding and viewing products before buying can make the giving experience more personal. Choosing to register where there are brick and mortar shopping options is always a good idea.
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 that will make the registration process more fun. After all, this should be fun; you're having a baby!
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've registered for, what is 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 what you need to make the first six months of babyhood as smooth 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 and you.
The last reason to pick a main site (or just one), is to decrease the chances of getting multiples of the same item. Spreading registry items on different lists or aggregator sites can lead to delayed or unreported purchases. If gift givers can't tell what is purchased, you run the risk of receiving items you don't need.
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. Also, 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 or had a limited selection that prevented them from being a contender as a main registry site. To keep things simple, with fewer than two registries, Amazon is tough to beat.
Amazon. After analyzing the registry service at 15 different retailers, and three different "aggregator" sites, we found Amazon's package to be the most compelling. Read on to learn why.
Best Overall Baby Registry
When comparing and contrasting Amazon's Baby Registry to other popular registries like Target, Buy Buy Baby, and Walmart, as well as high-end retailers like 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 have 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 navigate.
Amazon has the largest selection of any of the sites we looked at, period. They offer almost everything for baby and it is possible to get everything you need from this one site. Many of the store specific sites have a limited selection of baby items, and some don't offer other items at all. While a store like Target might have detergent and diaper cream, The Land of Nod does not. Kohl's and JCPenny have a larger variety of clothes than Target, but they don't offer the 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 you can find on Amazon.
Amazon has several nice shipping options. Amazon Prime (a paid member service) has free shipping for members who pay the yearly fee. Prime entitles you to free shipping on many items, streaming video and music, and free cloud storage space for photos. Amazon Moms (a free membership service) also offers deals on shipping with possible free shipping. Amazon has "Super Saver" shipping which is free shipping on orders over $35. Walmart offers free shipping on orders over $49, higher than Amazon, and sites like BuyBuyBaby and Land of Nod have no special shipping options, but charge based on the price of the item. Using a site that offers free shipping can save gift givers money. We love that Amazon has so many potentially free shipping options compared to the competition.
Simple Return Policy
Amazon has a relatively simple return policy. Most items from your registry have a 90-day return policy initiated by the registry owner through a user-friendly online interface. Your refund will be an Amazon gift card, which works the same as cash on Amazon. 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, for 3rd party items from Amazon, the gift giver needs to initiate returns, and the giver gets reimbursement, not the parent, but we still think this is a small inconvenience when compared to other websites and stores. Kohl's and JCPenny only offer in-store credit on returns, and both BuybuyBaby and Land of Nod include restocking fees on many items. Being able to initiate a return online, any time of day, with a pick up by UPS is a big perk for weary moms. We like that Amazon has a clear and easy return system that doesn't require a trip to a store or post office.
Discounts / Coupons
Amazon has several opportunities for discounts and coupons through Prime and Amazon Moms. Also, 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 before your due date, Amazon gives you a registry competition discount of 10% off items remaining on your list, 15% for Amazon Mom members. Several other sites we reviewed have a completion discount similar to Amazon's, like Target. However, Giggle and Walmart did not have discounts for registry completion. Popular baby site, BuybuyBaby, 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 upfront, so parents know what to expect and can plan ahead.
Gift Card Options
Amazon offers loads of gift card options, including but not limited to Amazon 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 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. Target and Walmart however, offer cash type cards for purchase (one factor in our choosing Target as our second registry option) which can be an excellent tool for future buying decision because they work the same as cash.
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 resolve. 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 piece to encourage friends to make a purchase is a breeze. Compared to some of the other sites we tested, Amazon has an unmatched user experience. In our tests, Walmart's website caused Internet Explorer to crash twice while we set up a registry.
Target offers a nice, easy to use registry that can be created in-store and online. This combination can be a best of both worlds for anyone who likes to see items in person. The online selection is larger than in-store, with Super Target (Target stores with a grocery section) carrying more goods than a regular Target, but there are still enough items in the store that you can get all the essentials. You'll find lots of items from clothes to cribs, and car seats to strollers from a store with a great return policy and nice shipping options.
Target has reasonable prices, a relatively large selection, and a friendly in-store environment that many people love. They have lots of gift cards 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 selection of Amazon. However, if used as a backup registry, it can give friends and family a place to buy in person. We like Target over similar competitors like Walmart, because of their straightforward website, 15% completion discount (Walmart has none), and baby specific coupons available via mail or 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 may want to consider registering at more than one site. While some of the larger registration sites like Amazon have ridiculously huge selections, you might want specific items that can only be found at a specialty location or specific store. Things like your dream nursery furniture and personal mementos could be hard to find on the main registry site no matter how much variety it has. This problem is one time where registering at a specialty place can make sense. The key is to limit the number of items at the specialty store to the bare minimum and ensure none of the products overlap with items on your central registry. Be sure to double check for item availability on Amazon; there are a lot of things you may not realize you can get there.
Best Spot for Nursery Furniture: Land of Nod
Land of Nod is a relatively high-end store with lots of fun and unique items to peruse. From fun bookshelves to neat cribs this site has some furniture you can't 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 but the site has higher prices making it a budget concern that can get out of control if your funds are limited.
Registry Aggregators? Meh.
If you find yourself in the company of more than two registry lists, you may be tempted to consider a registry aggregator, like those found on theBump, myregistry, or BabyList. These sites compile the items from each registry in one location so shoppers can explore your registry items in one place to avoid bouncing from site to site. Some of the sites have a button you can place on your favorites bar so you can add items from any website on the internet to your registry (Amazon also has this). They also offer features like links for sharing, insert cards for shower invites, and personal pages for telling your story. These features sound like a great way to keep track of your registries, but after attempting to use the aggregators, we found they are fraught with potential issues and room for human error that could make them more trouble than they are worth.
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, babylist.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 the details, and some level of required self-reporting from gift givers, we think the aggregators 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 (we did not test Babylist because it is not a true aggregator; see more below). We sync'd our store registries from Target, Amazon, buybuyBaby, and Land of Nod if they would sync. We also used the add button offered by myregistry and Amazon to add individual items without putting them on our store registries (thebump does not have this feature). Then we purchased items from the registry aggregators and the individual stores to see how well they sync and how long it would take. The results of our experiment are below.
The Babylist site requires that all gift givers report their purchase and mark the items as reserved/purchased because BabyList doesn't sync to any site. They either provide a link on their website to your other registries (something you could do via email yourself), or your consultant will add the items to your list for you (nice personal touch, but the possibility of human error concerns us). Also, they encourage users to delete their 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 want like the 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, it has a significant potential human error and receiving multiples of the same item.
MyRegistry will sync to up to 55 different stores (at time of testing), 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 the purchase was reported. 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 the items you can add), and only syncs to 15 stores at the time of testing (most are similar and offer the same kinds of goods), so it is limited and not the best at providing one-stop shopping. 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 set it up twice). In our experiment, thebump had difficulty finding all of our individual store registries 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 that when you use this feature, it doesn't sync the store registry it just adds a link to the registry. You cannot delete this link or undo it. Also, we tried to "hide" it with their hide feature which did not work. Thebump is challenging 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 we think 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 six hours attempting to set up a registry, and it never did sync our purchases correctly even five 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 goods 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 because you are likely to find most of what you want on the Amazon website.
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 things than you need due to late syncing or lack of self-reporting, then you will have to initiate a return process that can be time-consuming and somewhat of a hassle.
We think it is just as simple and easy to include links to your 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.
Universal Add Buttons
We still like Amazon for this feature. Not only do they have the most extensive 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. Amazon also has flaws with the details, but it gets the price right and lets you 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 dimension 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 like going into battle; it's crucial to have a game plan and strategy before you set out. Knowing gear categories is the first step, but knowing how to add the individual items and what level of items to register for is something else. We suggest you get your ducks in a row before you start so you can focus on the prize.
Using a Scanner to Build a Registry In-Store
While you likely thought using a registry scanner was fun and fast for your wedding, we recommend you pass on it for your baby registry.
Registering for wedding gifts is different than baby goods. For your wedding, you knew what you wanted, and it was easy to figure out what products would meet your needs. But, when it comes to baby products, many of the products are new to you and their uses could be a mystery.
Many people say it is easier to buy a car than buy a stroller. The reason is you know cars. You've driven cars for years. You know what you want in a car, and what you don't want. However, a stroller is a strange and unknown beast used by other people, not you.
We think its best to research baby products online, where you can find information from our site and others that will help you figure out which products can meet your needs and budget best. Using a store scanner is fast, and more than that it is fun, but that scanner can be dangerous because you may register for gear you later decide isn't really what you want despite how cute it may be.
We believe making a conscious and informed decision on baby products is wise, and best done online where you have resources at your fingertips and the ability to 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 where it is easy to get overwhelmed and exhausted which often results in adding items you don't need or want just to finish the process.
Building a Registry Online
Building a registry online is simple and more convenient than ever, not to mention you can sit and prop up your swollen feet at the same time. Being able to keep a concise online list loaded with the essentials from a few stores is easier than going from store to store in person, walking the aisles with a scanner in hand, and no memory of what you already have on your list or what you might have missed.
What to Register For
We recommend that you make a conscious decision about the things you hope to receive as shower gifts, and what items you plan to buy on your own. Here are three strategies that are common for a baby registry. Choosing one can help you keep your eyes on your long-term goals:
- Register for High-Ticket Items Only — with this strategy, you focus on the more expensive items. You can afford the myriad of small items like diaper cream and baby bottles yourself, so direct friends and family to help you with the bigger stuff that might break your budget or you'd have to forget.
- Go for the Brass Ring — this is also a common strategy where you register for everything you expect to need (and we mean everything) and hope that most of the items, both large and small, make their way to your home. This strategy can be useful if you have large families, lots of friends, or multiple showers with various friend groups.
- Build the Nest — in this strategy, focus solely on the goods you'll need in the first three months. The goal here is to help prepare for your baby's arrival but skip things you won't need until later. This approach is very practical, and it spares you from making more decisions than you need to (let's face it, you've got a lot on your plate), and it prevents your home from being inundated with excessive baby products.
We'll break down these strategies below.
Register for High-Ticket Items
If you are focusing 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, 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 strategy is great 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 can help you find just the right one. If you want a more introductory overview, check out our summary of breastfeeding essentials here.
- Stroller — While not likely an item you'll need at the get-go, it is a high-dollar item when it comes to baby supplies. Whether you want a standard option or a jogger, strollers come in a variety of styles and price ranges, it can help to research your options ahead of time by reading our Best Stroller Review before choosing the perfect option to your registry.
Go for the Brass Ring
Who doesn't want it all? In a perfect world, the baby would show up at your door with everything they'll ever need right behind them. Given this is unlikely, one of the 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 the items in each category you'll need in the upcoming year. If you are in doubt or undecided, add a few cash gift cards to the list for the things you can't anticipate.
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 have multiple showers with work friends or your old sorority sisters, then your odds of filling in all the gaps and heading into parenthood fully prepared further increase. 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 main registry category. This method would include multiple items from each category that suit different purposes to cover all potential bases.
Build the Nest
This registry plan is an excellent option for those who lean toward a minimalist style or have a smaller home. This plan includes registering for the bare essentials you'll need to get a good start in the first three months with baby. This registry style sticks to the basics and avoids the big items, or the "want to have items" and instead focuses on must-have items.
When you stick to building the nest, you want to think about the items baby needs instead of the things that are cute or make life easier but aren't a necessity. The idea is to get the goods you need to provide for baby without the add-on items that create clutter and may go unused. Honestly, there is little a new baby needs in the first three months, and most of it is free. However, you might consider adding one or two bigger or more costly items with this method in case a generous relative wants to spend a little more money and hopes to give a more significant item like a stroller or cosleeping bassinet.
An example of "build the nest" would be registering only for the necessities from each category and potentially skipping some categories completely. You may not register for the outdoors and you could limit nursery items to one or two things like a changing pad without the changing table.
Main Registry Categories
In our Baby Essentials article, we discuss the specific items applicable to each category including our favorites. For now, the most common baby registry categories are listed below. Knowing what type of gear you need can simplify the registering process and help you stay focused on your goals.
- Car Seat, Strollers, & On-the-Go
- Breast Feeding
- Bottle Feeding
- General Diapering
- Disposable Diapering
- Cloth Diapering
- Bathing and Skin Care
- Layette (Fancy way of saying clothes)
- Toys and Activity
- Outdoor with Baby
You'll find specific recommendations on our favorite baby gear, organized by bay's age, in our Baby Essentials articles.
Don't Forget to Add Items for Mom and Dad
While it's natural to focus on baby gear, don't feel guilty including stuff for mom and dad. Friends and family want to help you prepare and they know this includes things for you as well.
- Rocker/Glider — One of the most used items, when baby arrives, is a rocker or glider for nursing and soothing baby to sleep. Most babies enjoy the gliding motion and it is a good spot for bonding with baby and relaxing.
Nursery Works Sleepytime Rocker is a quality rocker with classic lines and a simple style that works with different décor. The Babyletto Tuba Glider is also a roomy option with that creates a cozy space for gliding. It offers smooth, effortless gliding, full 360-degree swivel, and is free of Formaldehyde + PBDE(S).
- Bath Salts — Bath salts soothe the skin, encourage relaxing, and relieve tired muscles. Toward the end of pregnancy, a nice warm bath can make all the difference. We keep it simple with Epsoak Epsom Salt that dissolves quickly, is natural, and fragrance-free with magnesium sulfate crystals.
- Skin Care — When your body is stretching growing baby, it will get itchy, and some women are prone to stretch marks. While the jury is 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 from belly and breasts to thighs and hips.
- Mom Kit — Mom kits can be as individual as each mom. Depending on your interest and style it can include everything from fun books like Mama Knows Breast, or pampering products for the different stages before, during and after labor. Gift cards for snacks or maid services can also be good add-on for any kit.
- Journal — Journaling while pregnant or after your baby is born is a beautiful way to capture your feelings and memories. The Mommy Journal: Letters to Your Child and Your Birthday Book: A Keepsake Journal are useful options for any mom that has trouble getting started or isn't sure what to write.
- Book — Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality is a good book about what you can expect and what you might think about before baby arrives. Mothers can gain confidence from reading this book that includes information about feeding and sleeping, sickness and vaccines, and almost everything in between.
Don't forget about the new dad when shopping or building a registry. While he lacks the ability to grow humans, he is likely just as excited about the impending arrival as anyone else.
- Dad Diaper Bag — If you want your man to do the daily work of lugging the diaper bag, you should get him a bag he won't be embarrassed to wear. Our favorite dad bags are the PacaPod Picos Pack and DadGear Backpack.
- Dad Kit — Putting together a kit for new dads can help them feel included in what often becomes a baby and mom-centric event. While they may not be doing the "heavy lifting," they shouldn't be left out in the cold. Confessions of the World's Best Father is a fun book that gets dad geared up for fatherhood and offers a little a bit of sanity for going from man to dad. If you need some comic relief and a dose of reality to relieve anxiety, this book is the answer.
- Smoke & CO Detector — Double check your fire/smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and if you don't have them, it is time to get them. We also suggest a dedicated unit in baby's room, so you are alerted to potential danger as soon as possible. First Alert Wireless Photoelectric Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm is an excellent option to ensure a safe and carbon monoxide free environment.
- Book — Keeping with simplicity, we suggest perusing Simplicity Parenting. This is a great tool that helps parents relax and potentially enjoy parenthood more. Less is often more when it comes to raising children which can be easy to forget in the face of fun new products to purchase. Other books that can help dad prep home and heart for baby include The Baby Bonding Book for Dads and Healthy Child Healthy World.
- Journal — Journaling about fatherhood and the anticipation of a new baby can be a useful tool for making it over the hurdles. It is a good way of recording feelings and experiences for little ones to read when they get older. A journal makes a unique gift for an adult child they are sure to enjoy for a lifetime. If dad needs inspiration, fathers will laugh out loud reading through one father's adventurous journaling Confessions of the World's Best Father.