Setting up a baby registry is one of those fun things you get to do before the baby is born (maybe as fun as designing the baby’s nursery).
It’s kind of like writing a Christmas list when you’re a little kid…you pick out things you want, you don’t pay for them, and you just wait and see if you get the items on your list.
It used to be that you would physically go into a store and set up a registry there (and some people still do it this way). Friends and family would then need to go into that store to make a purchase off your registry.
But with the internet as it is today, you can do it all online much more efficiently, with a lot more options.
There are a few things to know about how to start a baby registry online, however.
I’ll get into those here, along with the many places you can register (with my personal recommendations).
How to Start a Baby Registry Online: Before You Start
I think everyone understands baby registries to a certain extent, but there were some pretty important things I never previously thought about when we put together our first registry.
Knowing these things in advance will save you a lot of trouble and will make the process a lot smoother for you and your baby shower guests.
#1 When should you start (and finish) your registry? Don’t wait too long.
Time has a way of sneaking up on you. While it may seem like the birth of your child is light years away, you may want to complete your baby registry sooner than you think.
Let’s try to back into it…
Your baby shower is 4-8 weeks before your due date.
However, your registry information typically goes with your baby shower invites…which typically go out a month before the baby shower.
That puts us around month 6 or so…
And if you’re someone who takes awhile to shop, think of creating a baby registry like one really big shopping trip. If you want to take your time building your registry, you’ll want to begin building your registry somewhere between months 5 and 6.
Of course, you can get away with waiting longer than that, but why put yourself in a position to rush it? Most people have fun creating their baby registry (remember: it’s essentially a big shopping trip where you don’t have to swipe your credit card at the end of it), so they’re excited to get started.
#2 Can you register at multiple places? Should you?
One key consideration is obviously where to register – and I’ll list a bunch of good suggestions later on in this post.
But sometimes you may not find everything you want at one place, or you want to provide your friends and family with more options.
You can register at multiple places, but I would limit it to 2 or 3 at most. Remember, the point of a registry is to not only get what you want, but to ensure that you’re not getting duplicate gifts from your guests.
Therefore, if you’re going to register at multiple places, you’ll want to make sure you’re putting different items on each store’s registry.
Some people like to stick with one store and one registry for simplicity (and to make it less confusing for friends and family), but with a lot of shopping happening online these days, multiple registries isn’t a big deal (in my opinion).
#3 What’s a good price range for the items on your list?
There’s really no magic number here. A random family member or friend may spend around $50 on a gift for your baby, but your parents or best friend (or anyone really close to you) could easily spend a few hundred dollars.
I think a good range for most items is somewhere between $25-75. The lower priced items are good for people who may want to get you multiple things (or for that cheap cousin of yours).
Along with that, you can mix in some high priced items, just in case someone wants to spend more (but you obviously shouldn’t expect it). For example, if you know your parents are going to buy you a stroller, you might as well add the stroller you want to your registry so that they know which one to buy.
#4 Online or In-Store?
I’ve had this debate before, and really I think the correct answer is having both available.
Benefits of having an online registry:
- It’s convenient for people who can’t make it to your wedding shower – they can buy you a gift and ship directly to you.
- There is almost always a bigger selection online.
- Online shopping is often more convenient for people, especially if they don’t live near a physical location of the store.
Benefits of having an in-store registry:
- Some people like to see and feel an item before they buy it.
- Some people (generally older people) don’t like shopping online.
Once again, I don’t think this is an either/or decision – you can, and should, do both.
What to Put on Your Baby Registry
Here comes the fun part. If you’ve never been on a shopping spree, this sort of feels like one. Except you’re not actually buying anything, and you don’t know if you’ll actually get the items you’re selecting. Still fun though.
There are an overwhelming number of options, and you kind of have to go about it strategically. You want a variety, and you don’t want too many of any one item. Otherwise, you run the risk of just getting that item.
For example, don’t add 3 different types of diaper pails. You probably only need one (for the baby’s nursery), but if you add 3, there’s a chance you will end up getting 3.
So, what are some types of things you should put on your baby registry?
Big Ticket Items
These are most likely aimed at your child’s grandparents or other close relatives who want to spend a little more on your baby. These items should not be the focus of your registry, but you may want them on there so your parents know what you want.
- Car seat
- Changing table
- High chair
- Baby monitor
- Glider / rocking chair
Depending on when you actually have your baby shower will determine which of the items above actually make it onto your registry. For example, if you plan to have the baby’s nursery fully set up and designed before the baby shower, you may already have purchased things like a crib or changing table.
Now, that doesn’t mean your parents or anyone else can’t help you out with that purchase – it simply means that it won’t necessarily make it onto the baby registry.
This is the type of stuff that you will definitely need – some of it you will buy yourself throughout your baby’s infancy, and some of it will come from the baby registry.
- Diapers, diapers, and more diapers – You’re going to need a lot of them, so it couldn’t hurt to have this on the registry. Just make sure to mix up the sizes on your registry; you don’t want everyone to get you a giant box of newborn diapers.
- Diaper bag
- Baby wipes
- Play pen
- Stroller/car seat cover (also known as a stroller sack)
- Diaper pail (with liners) – I like this one.
- Nursing/feeding pillow
- Burp cloths
- Front carrier – This is the one I like – it’s pricey, but well worth it in my opinion.
- Swaddle blanket
- Bottle warmer
Other Fun Stuff
The necessities are great, but don’t be afraid to mix in some things that will be fun for you and your baby. Here are some baby registry ideas that you may want to include on the list:
- Baby clothes – This one may seem obvious, but I always like to point out that your friends and family may not have the same taste in clothing as you do. And while we’re only talking about a infant child’s style (which, let’s be honest, isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things), you might still have some conditions on what he or she will wear. If you can add these to your registry, you can at least somewhat control the types of clothes you’ll receive. For example, we didn’t want our baby girl to simply have all pink clothing, so we mixed in a lot of other colors that we like (that may not be traditionally girly).
- Bonus tip: Register for sizes all the way up to 12 months so that you’re well-equipped for the baby’s first year.
- The Pack ‘N Play – Although it’s not a necessity, the pack n’ play is convenient for when you travel but want to carry with you somewhere where you can change your baby, and where he or she can play or nap. It’s pretty nifty and versatile. And I don’t often use the word nifty.
- Toddler Tub – This is one of those useful, nice-to-have things and it can be used from birth all the way up until your child is 25 lbs.
- The Travel Bassinet – I’d consider this a much lighter version of the pack ‘n play. This works as a portable crib, changing station, and it’s great for storage when you’re traveling.
- Toys – Another very obvious one (like clothes) that everyone’s going to want to buy for your baby. Some people will ignore your registry and buy whatever they think looks fun, which is fine, but you may want to have some input on the toys for your little guy or girl. Put ’em on the list.
- Mobile for crib
This gets its own section mainly because it doesn’t really fit in any of the above. Real, tangible gifts are a lot more fun than just getting money or a gift card, but you will inevitably have someone who waits until the last minute.
Or, some of the stuff on your registry goes out of stock.
There are two things that can happen in the above situations:
1) The person “goes rogue” and decides to buy something you didn’t have on your list, which may or may not be something that you want. Sure, they’ll most likely include a gift receipt, but returning stuff is a hassle, so you’re more likely to keep whatever it is and just not use it.
2) They give you money/gift card.
The problem with #2 is that most people feel compelled to either get something from the registry or get a physical gift, which is probably a good thing. However, when a gift card isn’t an option, you leave the door open for getting something that you don’t want.
I know you might feel weird putting a gift card on your registry, but it’s a great “out” for people who can’t get you something on your list for whatever the reason may be.
Items to Maybe Leave Off Your List
I’ve look around at a lot of the baby registry suggestions online, and there are a couple things some people recommend that you might consider leaving off your list.
- White noise machine – While many people have found that white noise machines can help your baby sleep better (and studies have shown this is true), other studies have come out that show white noise machines could actually harm your child’s auditory development because they are too loud. I think if you can keep the noise at an appropriate level, there’s less of a chance that any harm will be done, but you’ll have to decide that for yourself.
- Breast pump – This one is kind of debatable, and I actually have no problem with putting this on a baby registry. However, some people don’t like to, for a few good reasons:
- 1) They think it’s a little bit awkward.
- 2) It’s expensive (and you may want the people who are willing to buy you expensive stuff to focus on the crib, stroller, car seat, etc.)
- 3) Insurance may cover some of the cost (check with your insurance provider, but here is some general info. on that).
Where to Go (The Top Places Online to Register)
Now that we’ve covered what to put on your registry…where should you actually register?
You have a lot of options, but as I mentioned earlier, you want to limit the number of places you register. Otherwise, you’ll end up adding duplicate items, or each individual registry will have only a few items, which may not leave your baby shower guests with much to choose from if they are only looking at one store.
- Where to go: Amazon Baby Registry
- Why I like it: I personally buy almost everything from Amazon, so naturally, I liked the idea of using Amazon for our registry. They have just about every product, and if there’s something from another store you want to add to your Amazon registry, they allow you to add it (so basically, Amazon can work as a one-stop shop for your baby registry).
- Perks of registering here: 10% completion discount – what this means is, within 60 days before your baby’s due date, you can get 10% off any one item remaining on your registry (up to $5,000). If you’re a prime member, the discount is 15%. Also, there are free, 90-day returns on anything you receive from your registry. Read more about the perks here.
2) BuyBuy Baby
- Where to go: BuyBuy Baby Registry
- Why I like it: Your friends and family can purchase items either online or in-store, and they have a great selection (and much like with Bed Bath and Beyond, their sister company, it’s easy to find 20% off coupons).
- Perks of registering here: Upon completion, they will send you a certificate that entitles you to a discount on items for which you registered, but did not received. Read more about the perks here.
- Where to go: Target Baby Registry
- Why I like it: People generally like shopping at Target (because you can buy more than just baby stuff), and having the option to buy online and in-store sets this option apart from the brick-and-mortar baby stores. The only downside is that the selection might not be as great.
- Perks of registering here: You get a welcome kit of $50 worth of coupons & handpicked samples as well as 15% off anything left on your registry 8 weeks prior to your due date. Also, you have up to a year to return or exchange something that you receive from your registry. Read more about the perks here.
4) Babies R Us
- Where to go: Babies R Us Registry
- Why I like it: It’s similar to BuyBuy Baby in that they have a good selection and you can purchase online or in-store.
- Perks of registering here: Earn 10% back on any purchases made from your registry (in the form of a gift card) and 10% off any items remaining on your registry at the end. Read more here.
How to Communicate to Friends and Family
Once everything is all set with your baby registry, you need to somehow communicate the details to your friends and family.
The most common way of doing this is with your baby shower invitations, as that’s typically when you’re going to receive the gifts off your registry (for those who can attend). Now, this post isn’t meant to be your guide to baby showers, but I will quickly run through your baby shower invitation/communication options:
1) Traditional Invitations
Ah yes, good old snail mail. There’s not a whole lot to say here other than: design an invitation, gather the mailing addresses of your friends and family, and start stuffing envelopes (unless you’re using postcards).
2) Electronic Invitations
These are becoming a lot more common because they’re quick, they don’t get lost as easily, and they really don’t cost anything to produce.
Where to send electronic invitations:
- Facebook – Set up a Facebook event, invite your friends and family. Really easy. This is my favorite option because you don’t need to worry about getting everyone’s mailing addresses or e-mail addresses. The only downside is if you have any friends or family who don’t use Facebook.
- Evites – This is a good alternative if you don’t want to use Facebook. You can easily send free invitations via e-mail, and Evites will help you track RSVPs.
I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it – whichever option you choose for sending your baby shower invitations, be sure to include a link or some sort of instructions regarding your baby registry.
Did I Cover Everything?
Hopefully this guide to baby registries was comprehensive enough for you. Yes, there are more stores out there where you can create a baby registry, but I wanted to focus on the ones that I think most people will have access to.
If there’s something important that you think I missed, please leave a comment below! I have no shame in going back to edit the post and include something new.. 🙂