The 7 New Rules for Your Baby Registry

Your big-day baby shower begins with perfect gift ideas, so now is the time to whip your wish list into shape. Our insider hacks ensure you’ll end up with the best of what you really need.

Baby Shower Registry Friends Giving Gifts Red Dress Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
1. Feel Free to Start (Really) Early

Who cares if you just got the positive pregnancy test and aren’t ready to go public? Some registries, such as the ones at Amazon and Buy Buy Baby, have a setting that lets you build your list in private. Switch it to public only when you’re ready to share your news. Similarly, Target only lists your registry if you check the “searchable” box. If you don’t, no one can stumble across it unless you give them the link.

And trust us, you’re not alone if you’re envisioning a crib before you’ve gotten an ultrasound. “Our registrants are signing up earlier than you might think, often during their first trimester,” says Laura Levine, senior marketing manager of Amazon Baby Registry and a mother of three. “There’s an upside to being a planner at heart. You may be offered discounts on maternity clothes and prenatal vitamins sooner, for instance.” 

2. Embrace All of Your Options

Gone are the days when everything has to be pink for a girl or blue for a boy. Your gear doesn’t have to make a gender statement whatsoever, and that’s how a growing number of parents-to-be prefer it. “We just had a baby boy, and I went with a neutral color scheme of gray, white, and yellow, because it feels a little more modern and in line with the rest of my home,” says Amanda Jedeikin, of Phoenix. “It seems outdated to go overboard with blue or pink.”

What’s more, you’re no longer limited to registering at just one place. Pull in great finds from everywhere, either by registering at multiple retailers or using Target or Amazon’s universal registry feature, which allows registrants to add items from other websites. Babylist, a dedicated registry site and app, also lets you register from multiple places online. “I used Babylist so I could include links from local businesses that I like to support, in addition to the big chain stores,” Jedeikin says.

3. Crowdsource Tough Choices

Stuck between two great stroller options? Curate your list by seeking advice not only from friends and family but from All. The. Internet. “I turn to Facebook for advice,” says Tatiana Siegfried, of North Hollywood, California, who has a 3-year-old daughter and another girl on the way. “I’m a part of a mommy Facebook group in Southern California with more than 30,000 members, and when I recently posted about whether to register for a side-by-side stroller or tandem double one, it was so helpful to hear from other parents about their experiences. Many wrote that they had trouble with how wide side-by-sides can be, so that helped me feel confident about registering for one with front and back seats.” 

Also keep in mind that almost every major retail site—from the very babycentric to everything-in-the-universe Walmart—includes in-depth user reviews and star-based ratings of baby products. At the mom-founded, you can see user photos and read reviews alongside. Or, if collecting photos is your jam for making decisions, there’s always Pinterest.

No matter where you land online, consider yourself part of the mom ranks as you scroll through user reviews. “Expectant moms aren’t sleeping much and are up at all hours of the night looking online,” says Leslie Venokur, cofounder of the parenting and baby-event website Big City Moms, and a mother of two. Adds Liz Callahan Schnabolk, of Pelham, New York, who welcomed her first child, a son, last October: “I found a lot of cute, smaller baby brands that I hadn’t heard of on Instagram. That’s how I discovered my crib sheets!” 

4. Pull Your Partner into the Process

“We’ve witnessed dads getting more involved,” says Venokur. “It used to be mostly moms who attended our baby-registry events, but now couples often attend together.” This is good news for you for two reasons: Your partner likely understands your wants and needs more than anyone else in your world, and he’s probably getting accurate intel from his new-dad friends. In 2017, it’s absolutely normal for guys to swap baby-gear advice. “The dads we see in our stores are proactive when it comes to the registry process and want to be a part of the decision making,” says Brandy Pawloski, a personal registry partner at the Babies “R” Us in Bridgewater, New Jersey. “In my experience, dads like to learn about car seats if they’re going to be doing the installing. Dads also seem to like choosing the baby monitor because they enjoy testing out the technology.”

5. Veer Out of the Baby Aisle (It’s Allowed!)

These days it’s cool to include anything you think you’ll need after delivery, even if it’s not so much for your baby as for you—like, um, a deluxe coffeemaker. “Our registrants ask for items that will make life with a baby easier, such as vacuum cleaners and new cameras,” says Levine, of Amazon. Think ahead to being a mom to a newborn. “For my first baby, I wish I had registered for nursing bras and cute pajamas for myself, because all of that adds up in terms of cost yet makes such a difference in how you feel early on,” says Jennifer Brennan, of Hoboken, New Jersey, mom of a 3-year-old son and a 4-month-old daughter. “I’ve since noticed friends registering for things like shirts made for breastfeeding, and that’s smart to do. You need that stuff as a mom, so it makes sense.” 

6. Plan for the Big Picture

Get out your crystal ball! Today’s moms are thinking beyond the first months and anticipating what they’ll need as their baby grows. For instance, if you register for a crib that can convert to a toddler and twin bed but requires the purchase of an additional conversion kit, put that kit on your registry now, advises Pawloski. “This way, you’ll have it when you need it, which is especially smart on the off chance your crib gets discontinued.”

While you’re at it, research which convertible car seat, high chair, baby-food maker, and training potty is a good fit for you. “I added babyproofing items such as gates, plus other stuff I’d need later, like larger-size diapers,” says Atlanta mother Kim Irwin. “It was another mom who suggested I add them to my list so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting them when needed.” 

7. Do It Again With Your Second

Pretty much all parents register when expecting their first child, but now it’s routine to sign up for gear for your next baby too. That’s because today’s registries are not just about gifts. “Registering gets you discounts, benefits, and tools,” says Levine. It’s like Evernote for your baby essentials. “The registry keeps you organized, so you can see at a glance what you still need—a benefit even if this is not your first pregnancy,” adds Levine.

“I originally registered with my second baby for the completion discount, but I was surprised at all the new technology updates,” says Amanda Kreuser, a Hoboken, New Jersey, mom of a 2-year-old girl, who’s expecting another daughter. “I’m registering with my phone, using Chrome extensions Honey to find coupons and Wikibuy to do price comparisons, and getting gear ideas from my WhatsApp group of moms.” The upshot, says Kreuser: “Shopping feels like a treat now, instead of just a requirement.” 

What Savvy Shoppers Know
As you make your way through the registry process, don’t forget to take advantage of these tech helpers and money-saving deals. 

  1. Use your phone as a scanner. Stores such as Babies “R” Us, Amazon, and Giggle have apps that turn your phone’s camera into a barcode scanner. Zap something onto your list without consulting customer service. 
  2. Be efficient with your thank-you notes. At your baby shower, it’s still wise to have a trusted friend write down who gives you what. However, Amazon’s thank-you list generator helps you organize the thank-you-note process, as you can view each giver’s mailing address. 
  3. Collect your completion discounts. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, take 15 percent off everything left on your list after your due date; regular customers get 10 percent off. Target offers 15 percent off anything on your list beginning eight weeks before your big-event date, a deal that’s good for six months. Babies “R” Us and Land of Nod give you 10 percent off anything left after your date, and Land of Nod will honor the discount even on items you add later. Buy Buy Baby offers two coupons for 10 percent off one entire purchase: one to use in-store and one to use online. Take advantage!