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7 Lessons I Learned From My Baby Registry Experience

Solid advice from a mom who’s been there, done that—twice.
ByAllaya Cooks-Campbell
Published
September 1, 2021
Allaya Cooks-Campbell and her baby

When I was pregnant with my first child, I couldn’t wait to start adding all the things to my registry—but I didn’t know where to start. Looking back now as a mom of two (and stepmom to two more), I probably would have done some things differently. While you can never be 100 percent prepared for a new child, your registry is a huge part of getting ready, not to mention feeling a bit more supported and confident. The best registries support you before and after baby arrives, so you don’t have to worry about getting it all right the first time. Target offers a lot of amazing features in their baby registry with a Year of Benefits including exclusive deals and discounts—something that would have helped me learn these 7 baby registry lessons much, much sooner.

As a first-time mom, I had no idea what the heck I actually needed or where was the best place to register for it. If I had asked other parents what they wished they had registered for—and where they registered—I would have saved myself a lot of extra trips to the store. Target’s baby registry actually has a ton of features real parents recommend, like a year of exclusive deals on diapers, feeding and more during your baby’s first year; a generous 15 percent completion discount; a free welcome kit full of coupons and samples valued over $150 (a great way to try products before you buy), and more. Looking back, here’s some of the items I’d consider a necessity knowing what I know now.

Allaya’s picks:

A lot of stores offer registry completion coupons, but not all of them are made equal. I remember thinking that the registry completion discount at the big-box baby store I used was kind of lame. It was 10 percent off and could only be used on one item. The Target registry completion discount is amazing, though. It’s a whopping 15 percent off and it’s valid for everything left on your registry. The best part is that you can use it twice—once in store and once online. If it were me, I’d take advantage of the fact that they send it your way eight weeks before your due date. Use the online coupon to finish all your pre-baby prep, and then save the in-store coupon for that first postpartum diaper and ice cream run.

My husband and I generally have two distinct approaches to shopping. I do extensive research, carefully comparing features, reviews and price. He points to the most expensive thing on the list, reasoning that it must be the best one (which isn’t necessarily true). Despite our different shopping styles, I wish I had leaned on him more when we put together our baby registry. He’s the second out of five children, and coming from such a large family he’s been to quite a few baby showers. On the other hand, as the baby of the family, I had no experience with little kids.

I also tend to be really frugal, so I didn’t register for things I thought were too expensive. The one exception was my daughter’s nursery furniture. My husband picked out a beautiful bedroom set for her. Even though no one gifted it to us, we were able to use our registry completion discount to get it. It’s now one of my favorite things, and my daughter still uses it five years later. Target’s 15 percent registry completion discount would be a huge help for this kind of thing (plus, you can use it two times: online and in-store and on multiple items).

Most of the baby gifts I got were amazing. Some of them, though, were pretty off the mark (one person gave my newborn daughter a crop top sized for a teenage girl). Out of politeness and appreciation, I kept everything I received. I told myself since I was a first-time mom, I should just hang on to everything in case I needed it. That meant that months later, I still had things in the box that never got used and couldn’t be returned (and, to be honest, that means they got regifted). I wish I had just returned the things I didn’t love right away. A registry program like Target’s that allows a full year to return or exchange any well-intended gifts would’ve made a world of difference.

Truth: Adding stuff to baby registries is really, really fun. It was so easy for me to get carried away adding every cute little thing in the baby store. After all, I was having a baby, so I needed to buy baby stuff, right? While I did need a bunch of baby stuff, I needed other things, too—like vitamins, sweatpants, thank-you cards, an extra-large satin bonnet (for when I gave up on my hair) and a six-foot-long phone charger. If I had a do-over, I’d definitely opt for a universal registry that allows you to add items from any store, like the Target Baby Registry. They’ve got everything baby-related you need, plus all the other little necessities I forgot to register for.

I remember bragging to a cousin that I planned to “stock up on diapers in all sizes” before my baby arrived. I thought that was very forward-thinking of me, so I was surprised she talked me out of it. She said that my kids would likely grow so fast, I’d end up stuck with a bunch of diapers in the wrong size. While it’s true that babies grow fast, diapers are made with more than a little wiggle room. If I could do it again, I’d risk having a bunch of too-small diapers over the reality of constantly running out. I now firmly believe that you can never have too many diapers or wipes. And since you need literally thousands of them in that first year, it makes sense to get a registry that will give you discounts on diapers, wipes and other baby supplies, like Target’s Year of Benefits. Besides, with their extended returns on registry items, you can exchange your diaper overstock for the right size as needed for up to a full year. So go ahead, add all the diapers you want.

Even though baby is the star of the show, mama needs a lot of postpartum support. I was so caught up in having all the baby gear for every possible scenario, because it made me feel more prepared to be a “good” mom. Turns out, my kids only cared about boobs and clean diapers for about a month. On the other hand, I needed a ton of stuff I never thought to plan for.

If I was making a registry for myself today, I’d be sure to add maxi-pads, nursing bras, lots of sweatpants, slippers, snacks, a reusable water bottle, and those trash bags that smell nice. (Target has all these things and more!)

Allaya’s Picks:

Target is already my happy place, so their baby registry is like the best of both worlds. (Come for the diapers, but stay for the three sets of new sheets you’ll need to keep up with postpartum night sweats.) If I could do it all over again—knowing I’d just end up at Target anyway—I’d definitely register at Target for both of my pregnancies. It’s the perfect way to make sure you have everything you need and want, before and after giving birth. Bonus: You can start stocking up right away with a free welcome kit that includes over $150 of free gifts. If you’re welcoming a new little one to your family, I can’t think of a better way to get started.

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Allaya Cooks-Campbell is a writer, yoga instructor, and born-and-bred New Yorker. Mama of two and stepmama to two more, Allaya tries to raise her family with equal doses of optimism, discipline, and mostly age-appropriate humor. You can find more of her musings on motherhood across the web and on her site, babydroppings.com.

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