It's a challenging time to be pregnant or expecting in the time of coronavirus but that doesn't mean you shouldn't celebrate the experience and share it with family and friends (virtually). A registry is often the starting point for many parents-to-be in their preparation for a new baby. It's exciting but also mystifying to explore what you'll need when you bring home baby, and friends and family can point you in a myriad of directions. And the internet? Whoa! You'll find two camps on nearly every subject, and both will be backed up with fervent testimonials on why you "need" one product or another.
Our advice? Tune out the noise. Focus on what's important to you and what fits your budget and the budget of those gifting you. The important thing to remember when creating a registry is that it's meant to celebrate a new life coming into the world and help you prepare for that wonderful day.
Here are our COVID-19-aware tips for creating a registry that works for you.
Register and research online
Now is not the time to sneak into a big box store (if they're even open) to test out strollers. Previously to the current pandemic, we'd recommend testing out products in person, but that isn't our current reality. Instead, rely on guidance from your community to build your registry online, via the stores you will visit again in later months so that if you need to return something, you can use any store credit and get the things you need.
Research is key since you won't be able to visit stores to test products in person, especially for big-ticket items like strollers. Gugu Guru is a free service that makes highly personalized expert product recommendations based on your answers to a fun lifestyle quiz. It is a great site for kick-starting your baby registry and narrowing down all of the options out there. If you're still feeling overwhelmed, they have a concierge service for one-on-one expert consults as well.
We recommend reviewing "Top 10" lists by reputable baby gear experts to kick off your search, like these guides to the best strollers and best car seats by our CEO Jen Saxton. Videos will also be helpful in selecting pricy gear, so you can better understand size, weight and dimensions of items like car seats or bassinets. Check out videos like this one on YouTube and make sure they are dated in 2020 so they feature current models. It's also important to visit the website of the brands you're looking to purchase, to read more in-depth safety and product information. Be careful of "mommy blogs" by authors you don't know or trust that give their opinions on products but don't necessarily back them up with any training, expertise or other industry data. Safety is the most important feature when selecting your baby gear, so for items like car seats, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website for things like child seat recalls or other relevant news.
Create one registry and stick with it
It may be tempting to register for your favorite diaper pail or bouncer seat at multiple locations, but try to avoid this. You want to make it as simple as possible for friends and family to check out on your registry, and for you to return items if they don't work out. Sites like MyRegistry and BabyList are great places to aggregate registry items from multiple stores, making it easier for friends and family to peruse your wish list. And keep those boxes once gifts arrive! You may need them to store items until their ready to use, or return if they aren't needed. And, because this is the climate we're living in, don't interact with delivery people and wipe down all packages with antibacterial wipes before handling, then wash your hands.
Select items from a variety of price points
Some new moms shy away from registering for "big ticket" items such as strollers, cribs or bedding, but go ahead and put them on your registry! Either a group of friends/family can pool their funds together for a group gift or you can use your completion discount to save some money on it, yourself. At the same time, some people love buying a bunch of small items from your registry to create a cute basket, diaper kit or a decoration for the top of their gift. Register for everything you really need and want - big or small!
Avoid registering for products you don't really need
Focus on key items you need first, then move on to the fun stuff. Make sure you've covered your checklist so you're not missing essentials like diapers and a crib or bassinet for the first week baby is nome. It may also be helpful to register for multiples of the same item, like frequently used clothing like sleep sacks, swaddles and blankets. You can never have enough blankets when baby comes home! Selecting multiple colors and patterns will excite your friends and family, too, and make them feel like they're getting you something really personal.
Though the toddler dresses or overalls might be adorable and tempting, focus on the items you'll need immediately after baby comes home. Don't worry, all of that cute stuff will come later as family and friends gush over your newborn and want to keep their closet fully stocked (for grandma's cute photo album, of course!). Clothing sized newborn to twelve months is a great place to start, and ensure you registry enough for 3-4 outfit changes per day in those early months. Hey, why not throw in a subscription for some baby laundry detergent, too, because you'll need it!
Another registry item to consider is services. If you think you may need help installing that new carseat, Amazon offers add-on service that purchasers can add to a car seat purchase right at checkout. Concerned about your own mental health, postpartum? Add a virtual postpartum session with a certified doula to bring peace of mind.
Whether you've decided to find out the gender of your baby or not, it's up to you to decide how gendered your registry should be. If frilly bows and dresses are your thing, go for it. Want your baby to just look like...a baby? Light greys, greens and yellows are a perfect way to stay neutral. For home items, like pillows or bedding, choose styles that match your existing home decor or will "grow" with your child and your own taste over time. Greys, beiges, and some pastels are the perfect tones so you're home doesn't scream "baby" when you walk in the door, too.
Don't forget your completion discount
When you create a registry, you are asked for your “event date”, presumably your baby shower date or due date. Most retailers offer their registrants a 10-20% completion discount that can be used after this event expires, so be sure you set your event for before your due date...you want to be able to enjoy this perk before baby arrives!
Remember that a registry is a living thing you can use for as long as it makes sense for you. Feel free to add, remove or change registry items as frequently as you want so you get the products you'll really need and love. Ensure you give family and friends enough time to shop and ship their items before you'll really need them and don't forget the diapers!