Walk into any baby store and you're likely to be overwhelmed by the number of choices in products. An entire wall of bottles. An entire aisle of strollers. An entire section of baby monitors. It's enough to make any first-timer run out of the store. No need to panic, registering for baby can be a simple task.
With a little planning and help, you can sign up for everything you want and need without breaking a preggo sweat.
Plus, if you do it in person, you get to use a fun scanner.
WHEN TO REGISTER
There's no right or wrong answer for this one. Some pregnant women start at 12 weeks, others do it a few weeks before their showers — it's up to you. The best advice is to give yourself plenty of time and at least have it ready by the time your friends and family are ready to start getting baby gifts for you.
WHERE TO REGISTER
Babies 'R' Us, Buy Buy Baby and Target are great one-stop shops for everything baby. All have locations nationwide, so they're convenient if you have out-of-state family and friends who want to send you a gift. All of these retailers allow you to sign up and build your registry online or from any mobile device.
If you want to avoid the store all together, there are plenty of websites that help you create online-only registries. Similar to Pinterest, BabyList lets expectant parents register for gifts from different online stores and services with a simple click from any web page (even Etsy shops!). Other online registries include My Registry, Amazon, Land of Nod, Giggle (which also offers a registry app) and many more.
Registry Guide: The Newest Editor-Approved Gear for Babies and Parents
WITH WHOM TO SHOP
First up should be your partner. If he or she wants nothing to do with registering, go with a family member or friend you trust. It could be a bonding moment for you and your mom, your sister or maybe a good friend. Someone who has some experience buying and using baby products and gear is a plus.
MAKE A LIST Checklists are key to helping you stay organized while registering. Whether you're a shopaholic or a minimalist, we have a checklist perfect for you. Personlize it by asking a friend or family member who's had a baby recently for their must-haves.
CHECK YOURSELF Use constraint so gift-givers aren't burdened with exhaustive printouts, and be sure to list both expensive and inexpensive items. Find out what you really need, too: "Get honest feedback from experienced parents first," advises Kate Ward, editor of The Bump. Remember to think about the space you have to accommodate all of baby's stuff before you start registering.
WHAT TO AVOID When you sign up to register, most stores will advise you to steer clear of clearance and seasonal items because they might not carry such things for long. No sense in adding them if they won't be available.
READ THE FINE PRINT Determine each store's return policy on gifts. Web purchases may have to be returned by mail.
SAVE YOUR GIFT RECEIPTS You'll need a sales or gift receipt (and intact packaging) to return unwanted or duplicate items. This is especially important if you register at more than one store.
REVISE FREQUENTLY Update your registry every few weeks when you change your mind about products and to ensure that no one else has the same name and hometown as you.
ENCOURAGE GIFT SHARING "Suggest that gift-givers contact your shower host (or you in a discreet way) if they want to pitch in to share the cost of an expensive necessity, such as a stroller, a car seat or a crib," says Target spokeswoman Jana O'Leary.
Once you register, don't forget to share it! Alert a few key people (mom, sister, best friend) and have them spread the word for you.
If you're having a baby shower, most stores offer announcement cards to insert with your shower invitation so your guests know where to shop. And last but not least, don't forget to send thank-you cards when you receive the gifts.