i get asked questions all the time from friends about what they should put on their baby registry. even a year and a half later, i still get PTSD flashbacks to the first time i walked into buy buy baby to start our registry. mike found me literally turning around in panicked circles in the stroller section mumbling "get me out of here, oh my god, get me out of here." i wish i was exaggerating but that's the god's honest truth. we didn't register for a single thing that trip and i came home and nearly cried because i was so overwhelmed.
if you're feeling anything like i was feeling, i hope that this post will help you feel at least a little bit of relief as you start the process of making your baby registry. i have some tips for how to do it, what (and what not) to register for and some really great resources to help you find the best baby items for your growing family.
tip #1: decide HOW you want to register
are you a feel it in your hands kind of person or do you love the internet shopping life? i'm a little bit of both but i chose not to do conventional in store registries for a couple of reasons. most items can be found in a variety of stores now and i wanted people to have the option to find items wherever was convenient for them. i also wanted things from a variety of places, but not enough stuff from each place to warrant a full registry. this is where babylist comes into play. guys, this is ***HANDS DOWN*** the best and easiest way to set up a registry. babylist lets you add items from anywhere as well as non tangible things like babysitting, meals, etc. it's super simple to use and it allows your friends and family to reserve an item and buy it anywhere they want. so if they have a coupon or discount or get points or whatever, it's up to them. how great is that? if you're putting together a list of shit you want for people to buy for you, the least you can do is let them buy it on their own terms, amiright? i did take a couple trips to target and buy buy baby to get a real life feel for important items, but i went ahead and added those items directly to babylist. if you download the app, it lets you scan barcodes to add directly to your registry. when you add items, it shows multiple places to buy from (or you can sleuth for your gift buyers and add the item directly from the place with best price) and it will also give you updates when items on your list have a price change. if you're worried about older friends and family having trouble figuring out how to use babylist...well, don't. they'll figure it out or ask someone to help them.
tip #2: let other people's research benefit you
do not kill yourself figuring out what items are the best. because i'm a planner and a researcher, i did this and it wasn't worth it. there are plenty of people who have done far more research than you'll ever be able to do in 9 months (there are people who do this as a full time job), so use them to help you narrow down your choices. my very favorite resource is lucie's list. babylist also has great lists and comparisons for reference. i also lean a ton on my friends for suggestions. ask your friends with kids things they loved and hated. every single baby is different of course, so what works for one person may not work for another but friends are great resources for this. don't have mama friends? there are tons of amazing communities of moms on facebook where you can ask any and all questions and get great advice. it's also worth searching for an online group in your town/city/neighborhood for hyper local advice and suggestions as well as opportunities to meet up.
(side bonus: i have found these groups to not only be a great source of information but i have made some incredible friendships with women i've met online. just recently i met a bunch of them for a weekend getaway in california! i don't know what i would have done in my first year of motherhood without them. i am truly a better mom because of them.)
tip #3: i promise you can (and probably should) find that used
i think first time moms are the most guilty of this, but i promise you that you do not need to buy everything brand new. i'll admit that i can be a bougie bitch, so i am very glad i have a sensible partner to keep me grounded and not wasting money on overpriced crap. we got our $60 4moms infant tub for $10 on our local facebook marketplace. it had been used twice because the first owner preferred giving her baby sink baths. we got our uppababy vista stroller with all the bells and whistles for $300 by being ok with one a few years old. we also got a hideous exersaucer for $5 that charlie loves to pieces even though i wanted this $500 wooden beauty. she loves this noisy, ugly monstrosity and i don't care what happens to it.
parents are often dying to get stuff out of their house (because they have all sorts of new older baby crap filling their house now) and will price it well if you can pick it up fast and pay cash. baby related items are very washable so even if you're weird about used stuff, get over it and use the money you saved towards college, because that shit's going to cost a billion bucks in 2035. craigslist, facebook marketplaces and buy sell trade groups (BST) and thrift store/consignment shops are all great bets.
so go ahead and put all the expensive crap on your registry, but don't fret over items you don't get. you can likely find them for a steal nearby.
tip #4: you don't know what you need and you really don't know what you DON'T need
you're going to do your best to figure out what you need before baby comes but there are SO many factors that make your little one uniquely them that you really won't know until they come. don't register for or buy a lot of non-newborn things unless they're essential because it may turn out that you don't need them and you might be out of the window of opportunity for returns.
you really only need a few basics at the beginning: pjs, plain onesies, a good swaddle, diapers/wipes, boobs and/or bottles, a wrap or ring sling, a good nursing bra if you're breastfeeding, a carseat (if you have a car or intend on taking cabs/ubers) and a safe place for baby to sleep. outside of that, nothing is really essential.
note i excluded a stroller, swing, toys, pacifiers, baby monitor, tons of clothes, etc. instead of filling up your house with a bunch of stuff you might not need (or in the case of a swing, your baby might hate), focus on getting to know your baby. if you do this, you'll figure out what you need and you won't end up with a house full of unused crap. (trust me, i have an assload of useless crap in our house.)
tip #5: you're the mom (or dad) now
you are going to get so so so so much advice, most of it conflicting, from the moment you announce that you are expecting. (i'm giving you advice right this second, ha!) the absolute best advice i can give new parents is that this time is yours and yours alone. you are now in charge of this little life. not your mom or dad, not your spouse's mom or dad. not your uncle or your aunt or your best friend or anyone but YOU.
your parents will have lots of awesome advice (listen to it) and tons of horrible advice (a lot has changed since they had infants). be gracious with them; they are excited to have a new little one in the family. tell them thank you when you take their advice and give them feedback about how it helped you (they will feel SO happy they were able to help). but never feel bad about standing your ground on the decisions you want to make as a parent. breastfeeding or formula feeding or cosleeping or babywearing or using pacifiers or sleep training or vaccinating...the list goes on and on and on. people will have strong opinions and so will you. often times they won't align. what is right for your family isn't right for everyone and that's ok. your choices are yours to make. YOU are the parents now--own your decisions and don't get pushed around by people. (unless they're pushing you to vaccinate because, vaccines save, bro.)
and remember, no one knows what the hell they're doing. your parents didn't, your friends don't and you won't. parenthood is a wild adventure of ups and downs and all arounds. roll with it and enjoy the ride.
stay tuned for part two: all the shit i love.