1. Find a mom to shop with.
Registering is overwhelming. The best thing I did was plan to have a champion by my side — my sister-in-law, a three-time "Black Belt Mommy". Having someone experienced there to give you thumbs up or thumbs down on key baby items melts away any anxiety you might have.
I'm so glad my husband and I didn't go it alone; I shudder to think what my registry list might have been like. As an added bonus, your Black Belt Momma is there when you spread your wings and try out some jog strollers in the store, but can't freaking figure out how the freaking thing folds and unfolds and you start to sweat, tears welling in your eyes when you think maybe you're not cut out for this after all, and... well, you get the picture. Just watch your her fold and unfold any contraption with ease. She also pointed out things I never would have noticed. Like scratchy fabrics in some car seats, versus soft breathable ones. Even though you're not a Black Belt Momma yourself yet, at least you'll have the registry of one, and that's what you want.
2. Really do your research beforehand.
I hated hearing this in school too. But researching the pricier baby gear 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."
I failed to take this vow and realized when it was too late. Case in point: the jogging stroller I picked out was great in the store. I tried it out and it seemed smooth, 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 only gotten two stars. I started reading reviews there and then went to other sites (in the vain hope that the poor reviews could be contained) and learned that the stroller would shake it like a Polaroid picture at jog speeds. My mom had already bought it, 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).
Now, I review almost everything I buy for my baby. This could save you from having to return baby monitors, breast pumps and humidifiers. Check the reviews on the big-ticket items. It's worth your time.
3. Stick to the basics.
I know, I know. You're thinking, "Wait! I'm having a baby girl! What d'ya mean, 'no frills'?" I mean take a hard look at your registry list and comb it for things that you really don't need. I know it's hard. Who wouldn't want a lady-bug light switch cover with matching lamp shade and valance? Well, actually there is someone — your baby — who doesn't really care at this point if it's lady bugs 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.
Have you priced a bedding set lately? The cost is insane! Don't waste your precious registry dollars on those items. Instead, watch for them to go on clearance and purchase them with one of numerous gift cards you will ultimately receive. Or purchase a bed skirt to coordinate with a sheet. Besides, you can't even use half of what's in a bedding set anyways. Blankets and bumpers are a no-no. You can add plenty of personality to your baby's space without the frills. Drawer organizers, closet organizers and crib sheets all come in cute patterns and bright colors and they are necessities.
Same thing with changing pad covers — they come in adorable patterns. By the time you have a tub organizer shaped like a frog, a green polka-dot crib sheet and you've replaced the hardware on your baby's furniture with green knobs, voila! Cute and simple nursery. Don't fall prey to artwork and lighting from a baby store unless it's on super-clearance. Full price on these items is like dancing down the aisles, throwing cash playfully into the air. If you put these items on your registry, it's your friends and family throwing their cash in the air. 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!
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 and changing table component. Sounds awesome, right? Wrong. He 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?
5. Skip registering for clothes... at least at the beginning.
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 will have to buy clothing for your own baby, but having a few things to get you to that 12-24 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!
What registry tips helped you?