5 Baby Registry Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

Putting together a baby registry can be seriously overwhelming. Here were my biggest takeaways, so you don't have to repeat my mistakes.
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Updated December 19, 2019

Creating a baby registry can be super-fun. After all, it’s exciting to imagine your life with a newborn, and how cute are all those baby things? But here’s another truth: Registering can be downright daunting. There’s a ton of stuff to choose from, and figuring out what you need and what you can skip can make any first-time parent sweat. Which is why I’m sharing my hard-learned registry lessons—so you can avoid the same pitfalls and stay ahead of the curve.

Lesson #1: Find a Mom to Shop With

Registering is overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to navigate it by yourself. The best thing I did was plan to have a champion by my side—my sister-in-law, a three-time “Black Belt Mommy”. I shudder to think what my registry list might have been like had my husband and I gone at it alone. Having someone experienced at your side to give you thumbs up or thumbs down on key baby items melts away any anxiety you might have.

As an added bonus, your Black Belt Mama can be there when you spread your wings and try out some strollers in the store, but can’t figure out how the freaking thing folds and unfolds and you start to sweat and tears well in your eyes, and you start to think maybe you’re not cut out for this after all. My sister-in-law also pointed out features I never would have noticed, like scratchy fabrics in some car seats versus soft, breathable ones. Even though you’re not a veteran mom yet, at least you’ll have the registry of one, and that’s what you want.

Lesson #2: Do Your Research Beforehand

I hated hearing this in school too. But researching the pricier baby gear (like strollers, car seats, high chairs, baby monitors, swings, etc.) is essential before you register. Repeat after me: “I solemnly swear to refrain from registering for any product with complex parts and components, motors, electrical doo-dad, or any safety-related gear without first checking multiple sites for user ratings and reviews.”

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I failed to take this vow and realized its importance when it was too late. Case in point: The jogging stroller I picked out was great in the store. It seemed like a smooth ride and comfy for baby, and oh was it pretty. As a more expensive registry item, my parents agreed to purchase the stroller and all components. I pictured myself whipping my hiney back into prebaby shape as I jogged along the streets behind my fab new stroller. Well, one day I noticed in my online registry that the stroller had gotten only two stars. I started reading the reviews and then went to other sites (in the vain hope that the poor reviews could be contained) and learned that the stroller would shake at jogging speeds. My mom had already given it to us and we’d already had it proudly assembled in our living room. When it was finally time to try it out, sure enough the shimmy was strong enough to jar the teeth out of my baby’s mouth (good thing he doesn’t have teeth). Bottom line: Check the reviews on the big-ticket items. It’s worth your time.

Leson #3: Stick to the Basics

Take a hard look at your registry list and comb it for things that you don’t really need. I know it’s hard. Who wouldn’t want a ladybug light switch cover with a matching lamp shade and valance? Trust me, your baby doesn’t really care at this point if it’s ladybugs or tarantulas. I’m not saying you can’t have a cute nursery. I’m merely warning you that nursery decor adds up to lots of cash—cash that could go toward real necessities like spare breast pump parts, wipes, travel gear and pretty much anything else. Instead, watch for them to go on clearance and purchase them with one of the numerous gift cards you’ll ultimately receive.

I initially registered for a few frills myself but went online and ended up taking them out completely or replacing them with more important items. And I’m glad I did! Oh, and the frills? Trust me—regardless of whether you register for them or not, you’ll get plenty. Folks can’t resist lace socks, eyelet dresses and tulle any more than they can resist plaid newsboy caps, over-alls and mini-Converse shoes!

Lesson #4: Be Leery of Upgrades

It seems like a pack-n-play with lots of extra bells, whistles, hum-dings and attachments is a better value. But before you buy it, take time to weigh the options. We registered for a great pack-n-play that had a bassinet feature and a little seat attachment that vibrated, plus a changing table component. Sounds awesome, right? Wrong. My son outgrew the changing table and little vibrating seat in about three weeks. It wasn’t long before we took them down to our basement for storing and just used the pack-n-play as a bassinet only. Remember, your little one won’t stay that way for long. Ask yourself the golden question before committing: How long will I be able to use this?

Lesson #5: Skip Registering for Newborn Baby Clothes

When folks buy clothing for your babe, it’s the teeny tiny stuff they can’t resist. We received adorable, snuggly outfits galore. Then, when my son turned 7 months and was fitting into 9-month clothing, we realized we didn’t have much. Eventually you’ll have to buy clothing for your own baby, of course, but having a few things to get you to that 12 to 24 month mark wouldn’t be half bad to have, right? If you choose to keep clothes off the registry altogether, no worries. That’s what gift cards are for!

Whatever you decide, relax and have fun! At this point, you deserve it!

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