How to Start a Baby Registry

by Christina Vercelletto

How to Start a Baby Registry

Should you register for the baby items you'd like to have? In a word, yes. If it seems weird to ask for specific gifts – get over it. Once you've sat through a shower where the mom-to-be opens three monitors, two wipe warmers, a hideous bedding set, and 87 hand-wash-only sweaters, you'll get it. Gift givers come out of nowhere when a baby arrives. Aside from shower guests, your coworkers (and your husband's), neighbors, far-flung cousins, and your mom's friends will all be shopping for your baby. Registering eliminates (or at least greatly reduces) duplicate and not-your-style gifts, and the running around they set off. Here are our tips on how to register the right way.

Decide where to register

A store with a big selection that also allows shoppers to buy from your registry online is ideal. Out-of-state relatives (as well as busy people everywhere) will appreciate being able to order your gift without having to go anywhere, yet those who like to browse and touch can. Questions to ask:

  • Will the store deliver and assemble big items, like a crib? If so, is there a charge
  • Can you update your registry online?
  • What is the return policy?

As much as stores push gift receipts on shoppers, often your presents won't come with one. Make sure that you'll be offered store credit for returns without a receipt. Also, you probably won't be buzzing around town with your newborn as soon as you think, so the longer you have to return, the better. Look for a 30-day window at least.

Overall, these are good registries to consider: Babies R Us, Baby Depot, Target, Wal-Mart.

Stick to that store for basics

Splitting up your wish list among two or three different registries can be confusing for everyone. It's better to pick one place that has the majority of the everyday gear you want. (For a few fun luxuries you wouldn't buy for yourself, it's okay to register at that local boutique as well.)

Choose carefully

The bulk of your list should be in the middle price range ($30 -$70 seems to be the norm, but you know your friends). Shower guests often chip in on one big-ticket gift, so do include several pricey items.

The "zapper" that many stores hand you when you're creating your registry (a gun that scans the UPC bar code and adds the item to your list) can be addictive. Don't get zap happy! Likewise, resist efforts by salespeople to talk you into things you "have to have." If you start cluttering up your list with a lot of impulsive additions, you increase the odds that you won't get what you really want the most.

Some expectant moms think it will save them money in the months ahead to register for every last little thing, down to breast pads. We think it's smarter to plan on buying inexpensive essentials, like diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and baby wash, yourself. If you register for these items and don't receive them – which is likely, since even a frugal friend will feel awkward bringing a package of undershirts to a shower – you'll wind up dashing around getting them at the last minute.

Get it done sooner, not later

Most showers seem to be held four to eight weeks before the due date, and registries are traditionally noted with the invites. Aim to get your registry done in your sixth month.

Then, spread the news. You probably have an idea of who the likely shower culprits are, but if not, telling one person on each side of the family (like your mother and sister-in-law) should take care of it.