Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Baby Registry 101

Perhaps nothing's more intimidating as a first time expectant mom than walking into Babies 'R Us amid all that... STUFF. (What is all that stuff anyway?) Creating your baby registry can be completely overwhelming. Whether you're recruiting the help of an experienced mom or doing the research yourself, there's a lot to sort through before discovering what you and baby really need.

In an effort to help you new mommas out, I sent out a survey earlier this year asking moms about their registry experiences. The "must-haves" checklist at Babies 'R Us is incredibly long. Surely, I thought, not ALL of these items are "must-haves." Our mothers didn't have all this stuff 30 years ago and somehow we came out OK. So what items are really necessary for baby and what items can you pass on? Where do you go and how the heck do you go about it?!

As with any registry - baby or wedding - take your time. There's no real need to knock it all out in one trip. It may take several trips to the store and a few rounds online before you get your registry exactly where you want it. So don't feel like you have to rush through it!

The Real Must-Haves

I asked moms to take a look at the monstrous Babies 'R Us list and name five items that were truly MUST haves. Keep in mind everyone has different experiences and certainly every baby is different, but there were a lot of commonalities in the answers. The three items that were named over and over as must-haves were LOTS of burp cloths, a white noise machine, and the Bumbo seat.

Bumbo Seat

I gotta say, babies look so stinkin' cute propped up in a Bumbo. A lot of moms I know are in love with these and use them a lot. You can plop a tot as young as 3 months old in one of these seats. A couple of other items moms mentioned as must-haves were extra crib sheets and a Boppy pillow.


Like anything else, the Boppy doesn't always work for everyone. One of my good friends who's a new momma sang her praises for "My Breast Friend" - another breast feeding pillow product. She said it worked SO much better for her over the Boppy. It actually straps on to your waist and is a lot sturdier than a Boppy.

My Breast Friend

Lots of options, huh? It certainly helps to have friends to bounce ideas around with... I also asked moms about one item they didn't register for initially but wished they had. The overwhelming answer was a white noise / sound machine. I guarantee you we'll be getting one of these - we've got three crazy dogs that make a bunch of noise. So anything that'll help block them out in baby's room will be a definite must-have on my list.

What You Can Do Without

Like I said, everyone's must-have list is going to look a little different. But when I asked moms what items were absolutely NOT a must, the one product that came up over and over (and over and over) was... the wipe warmer.

Prince Lionheart Premium Wipes Warmer

And apparently my mommas were not alone. Still need convincing? Check out this article with 10 reasons not to buy a wipe warmer. Hmm.... so you tell me, does anyone have one of these and actually like it? Do tell because there were certainly some passionate answers about the wipe warmer! Very interesting.

Items moms registered for but did NOT end up using included (in addition to the wipe warmer) a Diaper Genie (or other brand) and certain gear their particular babies didn't take to, like slings, swings or bouncy seats. That's a big point to keep in mind, mommas. You don't know what your baby is going to be into... some love swings, some don't. Some do well in bouncy seats and others will wail till the cows come home. Your own kids may even like different things - so don't think your second child will love all the same things your first one did. Same goes for types of bottles and pacifiers... those little suckers can be picky. So for goodness sake don't register for 40 of one type of bottle and wash them all before baby arrives only to find out he prefers a different brand altogether. Register for them if you want, but hold off on opening ALL of them till you're sure Junior is pleased.

Ways to Save

Registries can be great - especially when you're blessed with lots of friends and family that'll load you up with everything you need (and more) before baby arrives. But a lot of us will still need to get some things on our own and will certainly need more and more as baby grows. So where can we save?

Well, not sure if you know... but there are a LOT of babies out there and they don't stay babies for long. Translation: There's a ridiculous amount of second-hand baby gear and whatnot out there looking for a new home. Now I am all about doing a posh nursery and getting fun new things for the baby's room, but when it comes to all those obnoxiously bright bouncers and swings and other toys that end up taking over your house... second hand sounds good to me. Garage sales are great for baby and kids' items. You can also find ridiculous deals on CraigsList and other sites where people are just trying to get rid of stuff. And of course, another great source - friends! Take those hand-me-downs with a smile so you can spend your hard-earned money on more fun things.

Again, your baby may be pretty particular when it comes to bottles and bouncers. If you're looking to cut some corners early on, wait till baby arrives before investing a lot of money into any particular brand or type of toy. Borrow some different types of swings and bouncers from friends to see what baby prefers. And certainly, wherever you register or buy baby products, pay attention to return policies. Most of the mommas I surveyed had nothing but love for Babies 'R Us. And as much as I love Target, the consensus was that registering for baby here was a "royal pain." True, Target's return policy in general is pretty strict - so do keep that in mind if you plan to register there. I've heard the same complaint on wedding registries at Target. The merchandise is great, but the return policies are very difficult to get around.

And you do want to be able to return things you don't end up needing. You're sure to get a ton of baby clothes (so don't even register for these - no one in my survey did). And the majority of clothes you'll get will be sized 0-3 months. Before you go ripping off those tags and running everything through the wash, make sure baby will even be able to wear them! You might have a 9 pounder that'll skip right over the 0-3 month sizes.

So wow... where are we in all of this? Did I just overwhelm you even more? The key is to have a plan and not to rush. Do some research on your own before hitting the stores. Babies 'R Us and Amazon have a lot of online reviews on products, and there are a ton of great books out there, like Baby Bargains, that will give you the run-down on what's hot and what's not. And certainly seek the help of your friends who have been-there-done-that. The truth is, your registry's not going to be perfect. You're going to put things on there you'll never end up using and you'll miss things that you'll have to go back for later. But don't worry about getting it just right... do a little homework first and do the best you can. Pick stores that are easy to work with - especially on returns - and keep up with your receipts.

One other site I want you to check out for some great tell-it-like-it-is advice on baby registries is Alpha Mom. This is a fab site to bookmark for any mom, but I especially love the registry tips - a must read! So mommas, do your research and get out there with that registry gun and have some fun! (Actually, let Dad have the gun... that keeps him in the game.)


susan said...

What a great post! I am a new mom and totally agree with your list!

Jules said...

Great post, especially the link for the 10 reasons not to get one. I wasn't going to buy one, but my mom had one they used on my Great Grandmother when she was in the nursing home. I'll try it, but I am not sure I will use it. We don't have a lot of space.