Baby Registry Basics: What to Know Before You Register

Baby registries are convenient - for the giver and the receiver. I think they're quite a handy invention.

mom shopping with babyThat said, I also think the baby registry industry is a big, booming business that is non-personal, non-"green," and completely consumer. Baby registries encourage excessive purchasing and are not based on the reality of life with a baby. You really need very little - and many of the things you do need are not even available on typical registries.

I urge you to approach registering with a clear mind...and don't be persuaded by the glossy baby registry guides that you are handed when you sign up. 

What to know before you register:

  • Don't believe the baby registry checklists. In fact, you can just throw them away. Especially the "must-have" checklists. They're not even close to being accurate and they're designed to get you to spend lots of money. If you follow the list, you'll end up with tons of unneeded baby supplies and a very cluttered home. For example, Babies R Us lists a walker and a door jumper as "must-haves." Giggle lists a changing table, a bottle warmer, and baby powder as "the basics." Pottery Barn Kids lists a mobile and silver keepsakes as "what you need." Target lists a lamp with a low-watt bulb, a swing, and an activity mat as must-haves. Seriously. Throw that checklist away.
  • Think beyond baby gear. Register for items that will make your life easier post-baby that don't necessarily fall into the baby category. This is one huge advantage of registering at a super store or online. Consider a Crock-Pot, a handheld vacuum, a camera, etc. 
  • If in doubt, don't register for it. Instead, wait until baby arrives to see what works for you. Or, better yet, borrow items from friends - especially gear that is only used in the first 6 months (bassinet, swing, etc.).
  • Ask for intangibles. Hot meals after the baby's birth. A newborn photography session with a local photographer. A one-time "floor-to-ceiling" cleaning by a local maid service. These gifts will be ones that you truly appreciate...and they won't go unused or unnoticed. 

YOUR TURN: What items did you register for that were unneeded? What do you wish you would have registered for?

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9 comments on “Baby Registry Basics: What to Know Before You Register”

  1. I was pleasantly surprised that my friends and family really wanted to spoil us by throwing a shower for my second baby, second girl, no less... i mostly requested diapers but still received well beyond that! it's not so much about the gifts, although they're nice and helpful... it's about celebrating life, and welcoming a new little person into the world/community and that is priceless! Now, I'm expecting my third-it's a boy-and in a new home town new friends are throwing us a shower! I'm just trying to decide if i should register at three different stores/websites?? and if i should add or remove big items such as triple stroller, bedding set, & crib/changer combo, or get the big stuff on our own maybe even through craigslist??

  2. This is my second baby and I think I learned a lot of lessons from number one. When it comes to registering, the most important thing in my mind, is to pick someone you trust and know well by reputation. We used baby registry for number one and we had a wonderful experience with them. We put mostly practical items on our list and added a few luxury items. We were pleasantly surprised to see that we received the luxury items first. You never know.

  3. OK - what is the proper etiquette (sp?) on having a baby shower when you are PG with your 2nd or 3rd baby? This is my thinking.... if baby #2 or #3 is the same sex as previous children, having another shower is tacky. If baby #2 or #3 is opposite sex of previous children, a shower is OK but I think you should only ask for clothes/diapers. What is proper?? Am I being too harsh????

  4. Oh my goodnesss I really do wish I would have known Don’t believe the baby registry checklists and just have thrown them out with my first one. I bought so many things that were a HUGE waste of money. But since I had a baby so young none of my friends or family members had babies and my mother had a hard time remembering that far back. I will be sure to help my little sisters out with this one when it is time for them to have babies!

  5. I consulted with my "new mom" friends about what they felt they needed/didn't need before I set up my registry. I ended up getting about half of what I registered for anyways since I got a bunch of giftcards instead.

  6. We used a lot of the stuff we got. Like Lachelle, though, we got very little use out of our babywearing gear, so we really could have done without. I liked my bjorn, but I only used it a handful of times. We used our swing, stroller, highchair, and all that stuff a million times though.

    Is anyone throwing you a baby shower? Do you want one? Let me know. :)

  7. Diapers in all sizes. I got a lot of newborn diapers and she grew out of them too quickly. Don't be afraid to register for gift cards. They come in very handy.

  8. My best advice is to ask all of your practical
    "mom" friends what they really used and needed. I love the advice to wait and see. For me - that item ended up being a portable crib with bassinet feature for my bedroom. I realized I couldn't handle my baby in the room across the hall from me and sent my MIL with gift cards to buy it for me.

    I think it ends up being personal preference with a lot of baby items. I personally loved my swing and bouncer! But I never used the sling, baby bjorn carrier, etc that people gave me. My baby just didn't like it! So I ended up selling that stuff on Craigslist.

  9. Beyond Baby Gear: Don't forget things for an "older" baby. On a whim, I registered for (and received) a high chair even though it seemed like it would be forever before I actually needed it. Between my kids and the cousins it will be used for 5 years straight.

    My "rule of thumb" about clothes: You don't need any more than one drawer (the width of a changing table) of clothes.

    I agree...babies need very little.

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