Baby Registries: What to Add, What to Skip
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
Now that my daughter is almost three years old, I wish I could go back in time and re-do my baby registry. Wouldn’t it be great to know the things that would end up being a waste of resources and the things you ended up using all the time?
So that’s what I’ll do in this post. Obviously, every household and every baby is different, so I’ll try to keep this list to items that seem pertinent to most parents I know.
Don’t Just Add: Get Several of Them
1.) Car Seats
If you live in a household with two cars, register for two car seats. Even if you’re thinking, Well, we’ll save money and just drive the kid around in one car. There are far too many situations that are guaranteed to happen when just one car has a car seat. (If you both work, the person with the car seat has to leave to pick up a sick child–end of story.)
We registered for one convertible car seat and a stroller/car seat combo. Our rationale: A convertible car seat isn’t great for newborns. You need to purchase extra padding to fill the car seat before you place the baby. We also wanted to have a car seat that could be easily detached from a base without having to unstrap the baby. That was actually a good idea because it helped preserve her naps if we took her out and she fell asleep in the car.
Here’s what we ended up using:
Convertible Car Seat: Britax Marathon (Cost: about $230)
Stroller/Car Seat combo: Britax B-Agile (Cost: about $250)
Oh, and you’ll need to buy a car seat base for this puppy. They don’t advertise that important fact too much. Here is the base (Cost: about $65). You’ll need two of these if you have two cars.
The cost is adding up, right? See why you should register for these?
2.) Swaddle blankets: Register for several packs of these
If you’re a first-time parent, trust me: You will want to learn how to swaddle a newborn. It chills them out so many times (as long as their not in pain or hungry, at least in my experience).
We tried several kinds of swaddling blankets, including the ones with Velcro that seemed that they would be the easiest to use. But truly, I thought it was easiest to use the very large, durable muslin blankets by Aden and Anais. They were not hard to fold and wrap, the swaddle was tight enough to keep her little limbs from breaking out of it (most of the time), and they washed so, so well.
But these aren’t just swaddle blankets.
- car seat covers when you’re outside
- nursing covers
- impromptu burp cloths and bibs
- comfort blankets that your child can use well into toddlerhood
- Place them on the ground, fill them with dirty laundry, collect the four corners, and they are a lightweight laundry basket!
A sound investment.
Cost: About $50 for a pack of 4
Most bibs are just bibs. But not this one.
Behold Aden and Anais’s Burpy Bib.
As you can see, this bib provides a whole cape of protection. Which you want. Your kid won’t just stare straight ahead while he eats. He’ll look around, rest his chin on his shoulder, you get the picture.
We got three of these guys and we used them all the time from about 6 months to 18 months, washed them regularly, and they held up beautifully. And they’re reversible! Cute patterns on both sides!
They are secured in the back with a single, durable, snap closure. The name “burpy bib” comes from the fact that this doubles as a nice burpcloth that you can put over the shoulder. Too bad we didn’t find this bib while we were still using burpcloths. I’m sure we would have used them all the time.
Cost: About $22 per pack of 2.
These ones specifically.
Once, again Aden and Anais have created a light, breathable, durable sheet that washes well over and over again. While we had other sheets that lost their elasticity and tore at the corners, these have held up over time. And the patterns are so damn cute.
Cost: About $25-30 per sheet. (That’s why you register for them.)
4.) Becoming Mother, a.k.a, my book
Okay, so I’m a bit biased here, but really, how many pregnancy books share with you the actual, nitty-gritty experience of becoming a mother? Don’t expect a guidebook or a handbook. Here, you’ll find just the plain, messy truth.
Cost: Print, $12.99. Kindle, $4.99.
We thought we would be fine with just an attachable seat that we would strap to a dining room chair. But it turns out that I really wanted her to be at my hip level while standing, not my knee level. We usually pulled the highchair into the kitchen where we could wipe up the spilled food more easily, so I spent a lot of time standing in the kitchen, eating, and cutting up pieces of avocado and banana for her.
We liked Graco’s Duo Diner. The tray was easy to detach if I grabbed from the front or the side. My husband hated the detachable white surface because you could pull it off, and there might still be food stuck on the side that presses against the baby’s belly. (That never bothered me though.) The liner washes well, so when your child inevitably makes a mess or vomits, clean up is easy.
Cost: About $150.
I slept with this every night from 4 months pregnant to 6 months postpartum. A true lifesaver for all the wonky ways that pregnancy realigns your organs and spine.
Cost: About $50
7.) White noise maker
We had one for her car seat to help her sleep if we needed to be out of the house with her during a nap. They did wonders for blocking out sound so she wouldn’t wake up. We used Cloud B’s Sleep Sheep.
Cost: About $28
At home, we used the MyBaby SoundSpa Slumber Whale. Sound options include a heartbeat, ocean waves, white noise. Music options include Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Rock-a-Bye Baby, and Braham’s Lullaby. It also has the ability to project images on the ceiling, but we didn’t really use this. You might though.
8.) Crib & Mattress
We weren’t a co-sleeping family, so she went to a crib fairly early in life, right around 8 weeks. We got a 4-in-1 convertible style crib that could morph into a toddler bed and later on, a double bed. I can’t remember the exact model that we purchased, but once you’ve seen one crib, you’ve kind of seen them all. Here’s one like the one we have:
Cost: About $200
We actually spent more money on the mattress. Here’s the one that we got.
Cost: About $250
9.) Baby book/Memory album
I mean, really, this is what you’re going to hold on to. Not all of those onesies that you’ve stashed in that one container because you’re too sentimental to let go. You know what I’m talking about…
Everyone has a different level of involvement in creating a baby book. I wanted something structured, but that still had a lot of space for personalizing. I also wanted one that would hold information for the first 5 years. Here’s the one that I got.
You’re going to be doing a lot of this, so you might as well go big. Here’s the one that we loved.
Cost: $500 (yeah…)
11.) Baby monitor
Some people want video monitors, but I’ve found that an audio monitor was almost always sufficient. We had a model that was sold by VTech, but it must have been discontinued. Figures. It died on us at when our daughter was about 14 months old. It couldn’t retain its charge.
So we bought this one by Philips. And it has been wonderful. Wish we had started with this one.
Cost: About $100
… because they were valuable for brief windows of time.
- Baby Gyms
A cute purchase, but putting a blanket on the floor giving them toys might have been just as effective.
A cute purchase that kept her occupied when she was between 6 months and 1 year old. After that, she wanted to be out and about, all the time.
I have to admit that it was nice to have her sleeping right next to me at night when she was a newborn. A co-sleeper gave her a separate space to sleep, while still remaining close. But she outgrew this by the time she was 7 weeks old. If you’re interested in this getting a co-sleeper, I can say that this was a decent one.
- Pack N’ Play
I think if we had different lifestyles, this might have been a useful purchase. But we strongly preferred for her to sleep at home. We did end up buying a Pack N’ Play when we needed to travel to Minnesota for a funeral and she was about 10 months old. We didn’t think any of us would sleep well if we all shared a bed. We also used it when we were moving and didn’t have her room completely unpacked yet. Other than those instances, we didn’t usually find ourselves in situations when we needed a Pack N’ Play for her to take a nap.
- Diaper Bags
I found that what I needed to take with me changed so much that I ended up buying three different diaper bags as time went on. I guess you can register for one, but be open to the likelihood that you upgrade and downgrade through the first three years.
…because these will only be used for brief windows of time.
- Puj Bath Tub
A great concept–a baby bath tub that folds away for flat storage.
But only while your baby is small. Our daughter was a 7-pound 11 ounce baby at birth, which placed her at 50% percentile. However, her growth accelerated in the first two months. At three months old, she was already 15 pounds–and way too big for this tub. We ended up buying a tub made by The First Years and used it until she was about a year old. Then it was big-girl bath time.
Like I just said, my daughter tracked high in height and weight early on. So she barely fit into this contraption by the time she finally had enough head control to sit in it. The first time I put her in it, she immediately vomited. Guess her stomach wasn’t used to being compressed that way.
I duly gave it away after that.
I’ve met more than a few other mothers who were equally meh about the Bumbo. Some swear by it. I guess you can’t know until you have an idea about how quickly your baby is growing and whether you’ll have a need for it.
- Baby Walkers
I’m not such a free-range parent that I’m morally against putting my child in some kind of “containment furniture” (I admit, sometimes, it is nice to have them in something that they can’t get out while I’m doing something else). But my daughter didn’t really get the point of these.
She would sit in it, and try to jump in it, as if it were a Jumperoo. I tried to show her how to use her little legs to move it, but I don’t think she was motivated to make it go. She preferred to just crawl. Even when she was learning to walk, she didn’t want to be in this thing. Honest to God, she preferred to use my husband’s shoe horns as her “balancing sticks” and would toddle along with one in either hand. Aw, memories.
- Shopping Cart Cover
First, I hated taking my daughter grocery shopping because I could never figure out a good way to put her car seat in the cart. I heard this position was a huge no-no.
And the safest option was to put in the cart, where I was going to put all my purchases. Which means I couldn’t do a week’s worth of grocery shopping at one time. Plus, I was fairly strict about being home during her naps. So until she started staying awake longer than two hours, shopping with her wasn’t happening very often.
So most of the time, my husband and I took turns grocery shopping without her. It wasn’t until she was a year old that we started considering taking her grocery shopping with us. And by that time, I think we might have used the cover 5-10 times before it was just more trouble than it was worth.
But hey, maybe I would have used it more if I needed to take her grocery shopping. Who can say.
…because every baby is different.
- Baby carriers (try them out, return the types your baby hates)
Instead, use gift cards for these to try them out.
…because people are going to buy them for you anyway.
- Clothes, shoes, socks
- Burp cloths
- Baby shampoo/lotion
- Diaper cream
- All toys, including teethers
The key to making a great baby registry is to
- provide a variety of choices with different price points ($10-$25 range; $30-$50 range, $50-$100, and above $100).
- register only for items that you’re fairly certain you’ll use
- make sure to list gift cards as options on the registry
Finally, gratefully accept whatever gift anyone gives you, even if you end up returning it. Baby shower gifts are one person’s good wishes for you and your baby and the last thing you want to do is hurt a relationship over a gift. It’s your relationships with others that will get you through the tough times, so be good to them.