baby registry 101 for first time moms

Maybe you’re absolutely thrilled to be making your baby registry – making a list of cute, tiny things for the little baby in your belly? What could be more fun?! There’s a chance you’re dreading this big ol’ awkward list of things you’re asking people to give you. Maybe you’re just overwhelmed by the options and all the different things your little person may or may not need. Whichever of the many possible boats you’re in, we’re here for you. 

We’re giving you everything you could possibly want to know about making your baby registry, from what to actually add to the list, to when to make your baby registry, to how to make gift giving easy on your friends + fam. There’s no time like the present (pun intended), so let’s get to it with the most frequently asked questions about baby registries.

Why should I make a registry?

Do you even need to make a baby registry? The short answer is: if you think friends and family will want to give you baby gifts – yes. Sure, you could skip the registry making, but don’t be surprised when you get 30 newborn-sized onesies with cheesy sayings on them and none of the things you actually need. 

Don’t think of your baby registry as an awkward list of demands for gift givers. Think of it as a guide to make their gift-giving process easier. They *want* to give shower you with love and gifts during this special time in their life. Give them an easy way to show their love by giving them a list of things you would love to receive. You get amazing presents, they get the satisfaction of knowing they gave you something you need. See? Everyone’s happy. 

Most people do make registries for their baby showers. If you’re not going to have a baby shower, you can still make a smaller registry to have on-hand in case anyone asks you. You’ll be surprised how many friends, family members, coworkers and random friends of your parents’ will want to give you gifts. It’s nice to have that list ready for anyone who wants to treat your little one to something special! 

When should I make a baby registry?

Because most baby registries are for baby shower gift givers, work backwards from your baby shower date to see when you should have your registry made. Most baby showers are held in a mother’s sixth or seventh month of pregnancy, and invites should go out four to six weeks in advance of the party. Your invitation should include your registry link, so you just need it done by the time invites go out. 

In general, we recommend starting the registry list-building around the start of your second trimester, to give you ample decision-making time and to avoid any stress about not getting it complete in time. If you start making your registry at the beginning of your second trimester, you’ll have about two months to complete it which should be plenty of time.

What to add to your baby registry?

The real answer is: if you want it for you or your baby, add it to the registry. But if you want our opinions, read on, and remember there’s no real right or wrong way, because your registry is all about you.

We think it’s best to focus on the first nine months of your child’s life. Things a baby does in their first nine months: sleep, drink milk, poop, go everywhere you go, play on the floor, and eat solids (at around the six month mark). Use these categories as a guide and leave out the older kid stuff. You’ll most likely do a big round of buying and gift-receiving for their first birthday, so just stick to the infant stage for now.

While you’re making this registry, consider your needs in the first nine months of their life as well, particularly the postpartum stage. From nipple shields to adult diapers, some veteran moms and besties of yours would love to gift things like this so they can take care of you. If you want more deets, check out our blog on new mom registries. (link)

Another section of things to add to your registry: things you want a discount on. Most registry sites offer a “registry completion discount.” For example, Target gives all moms-to-be two 15% off coupons to be used for buying anything left over on their registries. So, add bigger things you were already planning on purchasing yourself, like a crib or rocking chair, to milk that registry discount for all its worth at the end. 

Top tips to make gift giving easy

The things you may not think about that’ll make your gifter’s life so much easier.

1. Price points

Consider lots of different price points when making your registry. In general, distant or new friends will bring gifts around $20-50, closer friends and family will spend $50-100 and your closest family and friends will spend $100+. Keep this in mind when building your registry by including gifts in all price ranges, with most gifts in the $15-70 price range to give gifters plenty of options. 

2. Ease of shipping

Some registry sites, like Babylist or The Bump, allow you to add products from multiple different stores, which is great if you want to include some small business items and pieces not sold in bigger stores like Target or Amazon. However, think about shipping and how easy it’s going to be for gifters to buy your gift. Make sure that for each store you add to your registry, that you have a few gift options from that store, otherwise people are probably just not going to buy that singular pair of pajamas from that one store. 

3. Themes

Gifters love for their gift bundle to have a theme like bathtime, feeding, travel, etc. They may want to give you a bag of bath-related gifts or maybe all sleeping gear, like crib sheets, pajamas, and your sound machine. People love for their gift to “go together” so think about including “go-together” things that fit together nicely price-wise and are from the same shop. 

4. Group share

Sometimes, groups of people like going in on a bigger gift together. Maybe your aunts will get you your stroller or a coworker may want to contribute to your diaper fund. Whatever it is, if a gift is around $150 or more, it’s a great idea to make it a “shareable” gift, meaning people can contribute funds to it without having to buy the whole thing themself.

Let’s make a baby registry

Below is a list of categories to include in your baby registry along with helpful questions to ask yourself while deciding which items you want on your registry. We also included a few top items for each category, to get you a shopping head start!

BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib light

"We travel often and this bad boy comes in handy every single time. We traveled without it once and instantly regretted it. So easy to pack up and it’s very light! Fits basically anywhere!" -Tatiana

hatch rest go portable sound machine

"This is one of the best baby purchases I’ve made. It charges quick and lasts a long time. I use it at home, clipped to the car seat, and on the wrap. It instantly calms her down and has a good volume range." - Ashley

Graco TriRide 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

"After reading tons of reviews, I ended up purchasing this seat because it seemed to hit so many of my wants and needs and at a great price. I am extremely satisfied with this purchase and even ended up purchasing a second one for my husbands vehicle!" - Nicole

Baby Delight Beside Me Dreamer Bassinet

"Loved this as a first time mom. I like that it adjusted and I could put the one side down for easy access for night feedings." - Nikki

Love To Dream Swaddle Up Original Swaddle

"Both of my kids slept through the night by 2 months old. I can almost guarantee it is because of this swaddle! You don’t usually get two good sleepers but with this swaddle, you do." - Krissy

Infant Optics DXR-8 Pro baby monitor

"This monitor brings me so much peace and it’s worth the price. I love the big screen, how I can see anywhere in the room and how AMAZING the picture quality is." - Emily

Bumbo Changing Pad 

"Love this changing pad! Bought this because I was so tired of washing a changing pad cover over and over again and it has been perfect. Sleek look/design and so easy to clean!" - Katelyn

Eddie Bauer Canyon Summit Diaper Bag Backpack

"I love everything about the diaper bag. It’s so spacious with many pockets for your little ones needs. I love it also has a changing pad with it." - Yvonne

diaper genie complete pail

"I’ve been using my diaper genie for about a year now and it is a must have item. Absolutely no odor escapes this thing, except when you open it to put another diaper in. The foot pedal to open the lid is nice too when you’ve got a dirty diaper in one hand and baby in the other." - Camillea

green sprouts muslin burp cloths

"These burp cloths are soft and absorbent. I received a different brand of burp cloths as gifts, and with those, the spit up just rolls off the cloth, dripping onto me or baby. I will be replacing those other burp cloths with these Green Sprouts ones!" - Liz

Stokke Clikk High Chair

"This chair was everything I didn’t know I needed until I got it. Its sleek design is super easy to clean (very easy to just wipe off!), highly functional, and easily transportable. It is also at the height of our table so that we all have our meals together." - Lindsay

Dr. Brown's Options+ anti-colic Baby Bottles

"My daughter was colicky and constipated since the day she was born. We tried three other bottles before we went with Dr. Brown. We no longer have any issues." - Amanda

Honest Baby Organic Cotton Bodysuits

"I’ve had my baby in Honest onesies since he was born. Love them! They hold up great with lots of washes too." - Emily

cloud island sleep n' play zip-up pajamas

"I love Cloud Island Sleep and Plays!!! I have bought so many sets. They are so adorable and fit well and the fact that they zip from the foot makes nighttime diaper changes so easy." - Gabrielle

Carter's Just One You Chenille Socks

"In my opinion these are the best socks around because they actually stay on my daughters feet! And they’re very soft." - Carey

Lovevery Montessori Rolling Rattle

"My daughter is a little over three months. It is not heavy, so she’s able to grab it and pick it up just fine. My daughter is now starting to crawl to grab the toy if it does move! The quality of the wood is amazing and the price is beyond worth it!" - Liana

crane baby quilted activity playmat

"Very soft and good quality. Not super thick but just enough cushion for my three month old for playing and tummy time. Washed up nicely too. A good value for the money." - Gabrielle

Baby Einstein high contrast Floor Mirror

"Great for tummy time. Our daughter loves the crinkly panda. The flash cards are really good quality and our baby loves them. Such good value and quality." - Tess

ingrid+isabel cooling nursing and pumping bra

"Best nursing bra I’ve found, hands down. Comfortable and practical." - Brittany

silverette nursing cups

"Helped tremendously with both early nursing tenderness and soreness from pumping!" - Amanda

isabel maternity afterband

"So comfortable that I honestly forgot I was wearing it throughout the day!" - Kimberly

Now that we’ve left you with lots of questions to answer and products to research, we figured we’d do just a tad more research for you. We made a registry checklist for you split into three categories: things we think you absolutely should include on your registry, things that would be nice to include on your registry, and things that are completely optional to include. 

Things we don’t recommend adding to your registry:

1. Baby laundry detergent

Your detergent is probably just fine and in the *slim* chance that your baby’s skin is affected by regular detergent, you can easily fix that situation once baby’s here. Don’t complicate your life with special, baby-only laundry unless you have to, mama.

2. Breast pump

Most insurances will provide you a breast pump free of charge! Google it and you’ll easily find a site that hooks new moms up with their breast pumps.

3. baby shoes

It’ll be quite a while before your baby is walking and going barefoot is actually great for their little feet’s development and overall balance! In fact, some shoes can make it harder for babies to learn to walk, so just hold off in the footwear department.

4. small burp cloths

Often, a baby’s spit up is runny and gets all over the place in no time. Go ahead and get larger burp cloths that are actually absorbent to keep the mess contained (or as contained as possible).

5. Tons of newborn clothes

Most newborn clothes fit between 6-9 pound babies, which means lots of babies outgrow them pretty quickly. Some 9-10 pounders are even born too big for their newborn clothes! 

6. Baby food processor

Dreaming of all the organic, veggie-filled purees you’re going to make your little bundle? You can make them just as easily in a full-sized blender or food processor. No need to get the fancy baby version.

7. Snap-up pajamas

They take about 3x longer than zip-ups to get on your baby and in sleep-deprived, new-mom time dealing with a wiggly baby, that’s eternity. Just stick to zippered pajamas and your middle-of-the-night self will thank you.

8. Baby bathtubs

This is a controversial take, but why bathe your baby in the tub, where they need to be in a special plastic gadget and you need to be crouched down on your knees on the bathroom floor when you could just bathe them in the kitchen sink, free of gadgets or crouching? 

9. Weighted sleep sacks

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against them, so we do, too.

10. Diapers

Another hot take, but hear us out. You never know if your baby is going to need a specific brand or style of diaper, whether from skin sensitivity or they just happen to have constant blowouts in every diaper on the market but one. Making a diaper fund rather than asking for a ton of diapers gives you flexibility in options once babe is here, plus keeps you from having an entire closet of your home filled with 10 boxes of diapers at once.

Have fun building your registry and remember that it’s all to help you in the end, so don’t stress about it too much! Plus, if you’re looking for what to wear to the big event where you get to open all these presents, we’ve got plenty for that, too.