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The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Baby Registry
December 27, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Baby Registry

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The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Baby Registry

Congratulations, you’re growing your family!

Whether you or your partner is pregnant, you’re adopting or you’re working with a surrogate, there’s one thing most parents-to-be choose to do before the arrival of their newest addition: create a baby registry.

Baby registries are great for lots of reasons. Your friends, family and coworkers will likely be pretty excited to give you gifts, and registries are an easy, convenient way for them to do that. Registries increase your chances of getting just what you were hoping for—and what you’ll actually use. They’re also a good way to stay organized in terms of what baby products you want, have already received and still need.

But here’s the thing—creating a baby registry can feel pretty overwhelming. There’s a lot to think about, especially during a time in your life when you’re not exactly looking for more things to take on.

We’re tapping our baby registry expertise to help you through the process. We’re answering the most frequently asked questions about baby registries and walking you step by step through how to create the best registry for your family filled with products you’ll actually use when your little one arrives.

In this article:

Baby Registry FAQ

We may not know it all here at Babylist, but there is one thing we’re pretty confident about: baby registries. Here are the most commonly asked questions our registry experts are asked—and the answers.

When should I make my baby registry?

There’s no right answer to this one, as the answer depends on whatever timeline you’re most comfortable with. Some parents start a registry toward the end of the first trimester, while others wait until they’re a bit further along. Some parents kick off their registry shortly after finding out about baby but wait to begin adding items to it until around the 20 week mark, which is right around when the anatomy scan takes place.

Keep in mind that most registries allow a “private” mode so you’re the only one who sees the registry until you decide to make it public.

When should I make my baby registry public?

If you’re having a baby shower, you’ll want to make sure your registry goes live as soon as the invitations go out. If not, you can make the registry public whenever you’re most comfortable, but around the beginning of the third trimester is often a common timeframe.

And what if you want friends and family to see your registry, but you don’t feel comfortable making it totally public? That’s okay too. Most registry-building sites allow you to use a private link to share your registry with exactly you who you’d like to see it.

How many items should I add to my baby registry?

The average Babylist registrant adds 125 items to their registry, though that’s not always the final number they land on by the time they’re ready to share it with family and friends. (Decisions, decisions.) But don’t get stuck on a number—register for what feels right to you. You can always add or delete items as you go along. Babylist’s baby registry checklist can help you jumpstart your registry-building experience.

Is it okay to ask for cash?

Most registries offer cash fund options. If not, many offer spots for gift cards and help and favors. Don’t hesitate to add some to your list.

Is it okay to add big purchases to my baby registry?

Yes! Your friends and family want to know what you really want and need, so there’s no issue with adding a stroller, crib or other item that might be higher in price. Many registries, including Babylist, offer a group gifting option that lets people contribute as much as they want toward the item, or even fully fund it.

How can I make a baby registry from different stores?

Say you’ve got your eyes on a stroller from a big box store and baby clothes from your favorite local boutique. No need to make multiple registries, and no need to sacrifice any of your picks. Babylist is a universal baby registry that combines stores in one convenient place, so you can add anything from anywhere on the internet. Already have a baby registry somewhere else? Babylist can also integrate your other registries seamlessly so they’re all in one spot.

To-Do: Create Your Babylist

With Babylist, you can add any item from any store onto ONE registry. You’ll even get a Hello Baby Box full of free (amazing!) goodies.

How to Create a Baby Registry

Feeling stressed out by the thought of adding one more thing to your to-do list? We’ve broken down registry-building into five easy takeaways to help keep you organized and on track.

Evaluate Your Lifestyle: Think Before You Add

You’re going to encounter a lot of different types of baby gear on your registry journey. Before you add anything to your baby registry, pause and ask yourself this:

How will this item fit into my family and our particular lifestyle?

Do you live in a 700-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in a busy city or a spacious home in the suburbs? Is minimalism your jam, or do you love allll the things? Are you having twins, or are you building your family through adoption?

Ask yourself these questions—and spend some time truly thinking about the answers, as they’ll influence what products you add to your registry. City dwellers without a car need a roomy, durable stroller that goes the distance, while suburban parents may be more concerned if that stroller fits in the trunk of a car. A tech-loving parent may relish in the idea of a monitor that gives them access to baby’s every breath, movement and sleep pattern, while someone who’s overwhelmed by too much information may prefer a simple audio option.

Just like every family is different, the same should hold true for every baby registry. A well thought-out registry may take a bit of extra time, but we think it’s time well spent.

Needs vs. Wants: Keep It Simple

“I can’t imagine my life with my new baby without the 225 items I added to my registry!” said no new parent, ever.

Baby gear has come a long way, and there’s a lot to be excited about. (We get it; we are a baby company after all.) And there is certainly room on every registry to have some fun with a few splurge items or a product or two that you absolutely love. But remember—short of diapers and a safe place to sleep, it’s easy to get carried away and let the “wants” trump the “needs” when it comes to registry-building. Adding too many items can get overwhelming, be tough to manage and leave you with lots of unused baby gear once your little one arrives. Remember to pause every so often while building your baby registry and ask yourself if the items really deserve a spot on your list.

A few other tips to keep in mind when you’re trying to figure out what you need:

  • Babies grow—and fast. Although sleepless nights may feel like they last forever, remember that babies grow pretty quickly, especially over that first year. Some babies skip newborn sizes altogether (both clothes and diapers), and most parents tell us they’re changing out their little one’s wardrobe every few months during the baby and toddler stages, so don’t stock up on too much of one size.
  • Don’t forget off-registry gifts. Lots of people love utilizing baby registries and buying exactly what’s been asked for—but not all. Some gift-givers may decide to choose a gift on their own rather than stick to the registry. What’s the most common gift they tend to choose? Blankets and clothes. (Trust us on this one.) Personalized baby blankets and teeny, tiny baby outfits are a favorite among off-registry gift-givers, so don’t add a ton to your registry unless you’re down with a very warm baby who’s getting an outfit change eight times a day.
  • Focus on the first six months. It’s tempting to want to put all the things on your registry that you think you may need for the first few years, but we’d advise against it. While things like a convertible car seat or supplies for starting solids will eventually make it onto your shopping list, it’s overwhelming to anticipate those needs so far in advance. There’s also a strong chance that your preferences will change over time, and you’ll discover new brands to love once baby arrives. Keep it simple and focus your registry around must-haves for the first six months or so.

One Step at a Time: Try Not to Get Overwhelmed

From crib bedding to diaper bags, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about all the things you and your baby are going to need over the coming months. Here’s where a little organization can go a long way.

To help figure out what’s really important, start by breaking up baby’s needs into larger categories and working on adding items within each category as you build your registry. There’s no “right” way to do this; some parents find that checking the bigger ticket items like a stroller or car seat off the list first feels right, while others prefer to start with more fun things like clothes or room decor. You do you—just remember to take things one step at a time.

Here are the categories we think are the most helpful to work with and some highlights of what’s included in each.

Nursery: If you’ll find it in your nursery, you’ll find it here. A crib and a mattress, crib bedding, furniture (changing table, glider, etc.), a monitor and white noise machine, blankets and swaddles, and room decor should all go in this category.

Feeding: Bottles are the obvious add to this important category, but don’t forget other crucial items like bibs, burp cloths, formula or a breast pump.

Transportation: Sometimes also called “On the Go,” all things transportation related make up this category. Your stroller, car seat, baby carrier and other similar items fit in here.

Health and Safety: This isn’t the most exciting of categories, but it is one of the most important. You’ll want to include things like a first aid kit, a humidifier and a thermometer here, as well as bathtime needs like a tub, towels, washcloths and baby wash.

Diapering: Cloth or disposable diapers, wipes, diaper cream and a diaper bag are the biggies in this crucial category—along with any on-the-go diaper changing supplies too.

Clothing: It’s easy to go overboard here, so try to stick to the basics. Bodysuits are a great staple, as are pajamas, as well as some separates like pants and a few newborn caps.

Gear: Items like a bouncer, a swing and a playard or travel crib are popular choices for this category. Just remember that babies can be pretty particular about what they like, so there’s no need to get one of everything to start.

Playroom: Don’t forget to add some fun! Newborn-friendly toys, board books and a play mat are all good additions to this category.

Do Your Research (Or Not): You Do You

There’s certainly no shortage of information, reviews and how-tos when it comes to baby gear. But do you need to research each and every item you add to your baby registry? It depends.

If you’re the type of person who likes to know the ins and outs of anything before you buy, then we definitely recommend diving headfirst into research when you’re making your registry.

But what if the thought of all of this research makes you break out into a cold sweat? Then skip it. Limit your research to the biggies: strollers, infant car seats and newborn diapers. Otherwise, take a walk through your favorite brick and mortar store (Target and the Babylist Beverly Hills Showroom are both great places to start) to test out some gear in person. Talk to friends and other parents about what baby products they love and why. (And which ones they don’t.) Hit the interwebs and watch videos of real parents reviewing and demoing popular baby products. Do what works for you in terms of getting informed without stressing yourself out.

Boss Baby: Sometimes It’s Best to Wait and See

Isn’t there a saying about how the best laid plans often go awry? Nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to what we think having a baby will be like versus what reality actually entails. And your baby registry is no exception.

They might be tiny, but babies sure to have opinions on what they like versus what they don’t. (And they’re not afraid to let you know, either.) Keep this front of mind when building your registry. Tempted to register for a swing, a bouncy seat and a jumper? Add just one and take it for a test ride when baby arrives to see how it goes. If baby is into it, great; but if not, sell it on a local parents’ swap group and try something else.

Here are other popular registry items where it’s wise to take the same type of approach:

  • Diapers and wipes. Different brands of diapers work for different babies, and it’s tough to know what’s going to be a good fit for your little one before they arrive. (Things like a baby’s shape, weight and level of skin sensitivity all come into play.) Same goes for wipes. Add a pack or two of different brands of diapers and wipes to your registry, but not much more than that—then wait to see what baby (and you) like the most and go from there. Trying out a diaper sampler pack makes sense too.
  • Bottles. Feeding sets often offer a great value—but not before you know what bottle works best for your baby. Instead of adding a bottle set to your registry up front, choose 2-3 bottles from different brands, or add a bottle box (a sampler pack of five popular baby bottles) so you can test out which brand works best.
  • Baby wash. All babies have sensitive skin, but for some it seems to be more of an issue than for others. Instead of filling your registry with all different types of baby wash and lotion, it’s best to start with a small sampler pack of something mild and go from there.
  • Formula. Formula doesn’t come cheap, so it’s pretty tempting to want to stock up on as much as possible. But before baby is born, it’s tough to say what will (or what won’t) work for that tiny belly, so it’s recommended to take a wait-and-see approach here.
  • Swaddles. Swaddle blankets and 2-in-1 swaddles and sleep sacks…oh my. It can be pretty confusing to figure out what you’ll need (and when) when it comes to swaddling. Don’t stock up on lots, but instead start with one of each on your registry and wait until baby arrives to decide what all of you are liking best for comfort and ease of use. A swaddle sampler pack can also help you test out what baby and you like before you buy more.

Last but definitely not least, don’t forget gift cards. Gift cards for your favorite store, or even help and favors cards for non-material items, make great registry adds. They’re sure to get used and can help you buy more of any item you and your little one are loving.

Ready, Set, Register

Building your family brings with it lots of excitement—but it can bring some stress too. Creating your baby registry shouldn’t add to that. A little bit of know-how and some useful guidelines will help you to streamline the process and build a registry that works for you and your family.

Jen LaBracio

Senior Gear Editor

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of all things baby gear with her love of (obsessive) research. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, spin, listen to podcasts, read and spend time at the beach. In her past life, she worked for over a decade in children’s publishing. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their two boys, Will and Ben.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.