For my first time mom friends, Paige and Kristy:
Choosing items for your baby registry is right up there with the wedding madness. There are so much gear, furniture, gadgets, cuteness, etc. that it is hard to know what to choose. I, myself, left Babies 'R Us three times, before a good friend directed me to the book, Baby Bargains by Denise & Alan Fields.
1. Buy the latest edition of Baby Bargains by Denise & Alan Fields. This book is extremely thorough in reviewing all categories of baby products and most of the available brands in the US, both in chain stores and online. The book starts each section with an overview of features so you know what is available along with guidelines for choosing the particular item. Then, they do a review of by brand of the features, pros and cons of each brand and the main models within the brand. Finally, there is a comparative chart. When you go into a store they do not have the same information listed so it is impossible to compare. By going through this book, you can make smarter decisions about what you want.
2. Create registries on Target.com and Babiesrus.com fairly early so you can start getting coupons. You don't need to fill it out completely, just create them to get the coupons in time to use them. Target even sends maternity clothes coupons. If you are having a shower, everyone has a Target or Babies 'R Us near them so you can give people a sense of your style and the types of things you like.
3. Don't limit yourself to mainstream stores. Create a registry online at a site like felicite.com. You can add more unique, online products to your registry through felicite.
4. You can get recommendations from everyone on the block and their sisters and best friends as to what products to buy, but the bottomline is that your baby and your lifestyle determine what you need. You can examine your lifestyle before the baby is born: What kinds of stores do you shop in? What kind of transportation do you use? What kind of terrain do you traverse? What kind of weather do you deal with?
If you live in the suburbs and drive almost everywhere you go, you need a different stroller than someone who lives in the city and walks everywhere.
You don't however, know you baby when you are putting together your registry. Factors such as baby's activity level, size both length and girth are very important in selecting products that will work for your baby. There is nothing you can do to substitute for this critical piece of info, but there are things you can avoid doing:
*Don't register for things like a highchair or any other equipment that they will use beyond the first three months. Register for an infant carseat or convertible carseat, baby carrier, Arm's Reach Cosleeper, bassinet, or crib. Maybe a stroller if you have determined what kind you really need. Most people who get a travel system seem to regret it. It is much easier to carry your baby in a carrier when they are little. As they get bigger, a carrier is still more convenient for the suburbs and if you are urban and walking a lot, you need a more powerful stroller than the travel system offers. If you know you will jog with the baby, get a jogging stroller. Suburbanites might be able to skip from baby carrier to a MacLaren type stroller. Everyone is different, though. Just think about the choice.
*Don't buy seasonal clothes before your baby is born. Don't buy seasonal clothes out of season for your baby's first year (or first several years). Growth spurts are unpredictable and a bargain isn't a bargain if it doesn't fit.
*Don't buy clothes or blankets until AFTER your shower. Most people receive a ton of each.
*Don't buy or register for a lot of newborn sized clothing. Get one special outfit for coming home from the hospital and buy or register for 0-3 month size instead. On average babies, this will fit just fine, may be a little big, but not for long. Some big babies are born too large for newborn size clothing.
*This goes for diapers as well. Don't buy or register for a lot of newborn size diapers for the same reason. The hospital will get you started with diapers anyway. If you are going to use disposables, look into some of the more environmentally-friendly, healthier-for-baby, diaper brands to register for like Tushies, 7th Generation, Nature Babycare. If you are going with cloth, and choosing pocket diapers, all-in-ones, or fancy diaper covers, the initial investment can be steep, but you will save money. If you register for these types, skip the XS size and start with S. They are usually adjustable and so small will probably work. If it doesn't you can fill in if necessary or use disposables for the first few weeks while you are getting used to everything else.
5. Skip the gadgets: wipes warmer (dries out wipes and you probably won't use it much anyway), bottle steralizer/warmer, etc. (even if you bottle feed, you don't need these things and if you find out later that you do, you can pick them up). Some gadgets are useless to everyone, some are very useful to some people. The only time I ever used my baby monitor was testing to see if it worked. We co-slept and even when he was napping, I could hear him without the monitor. If you have a multi-level house, you might use it. If you are in an apartment, you really don;t need it. Still, some people like to use them. It is a matter of personal choice. You really don't know if that is going to be you until you have the baby. A great place to look for gadget-y products, safety products and other I-Wonder-if-They-Make-This products is One Step Ahead.
6. Have fun planning your registry. Even though there is a lot to choose from, you really don't need much beyond a carseat and some onesies to get started.