When it comes to planning, I am fairly type-A. I love the idea of spontaneity, but the truth is that I am most comfortable (and stress-free) when I have a plan. So when I found out I was pregnant with my first, my mind went straight into planning mode (after, of course, getting through the shock, joy and moments of OH MY GOODNESS I'M HAVING A BABY).

As much as I knew about babies (I'm a midwife), I was pretty overwhelmed about getting everything ready to take care of her. I knew that having the right items was going to be incredibly helpful, so I dove into setting up our registry pretty quickly.

And I'll be honest, I was also super excited about this part—shopping for baby items made it feel so real! So I tried hard to make the experience fun as well as efficient and calming for my type-A brain.

In case you find yourself in a similar boat, I wanted to share my tips for setting up a registry, along with the ultimate registry guide from The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama.

But first, here's how to go about setting up your baby's registry:

1. Choose one item or category at a time.

It is so easy to go down the baby registry rabbit hole: You start looking for bottles, and then you remember that before you know it, they'll be starting solids. So you click on the link to look at baby spoons and bibs. Wait! A high chair! And then you think about how messy they'll be after eating, so you start investigating bathtubs… it can get overwhelming quickly.

My advice: Pick one item or category at a time, and stick with it. Set up a schedule for yourself, even. When a thought pops into your head, that's great—write it down so you don't forget, but don't start researching it until you've finished what you set out to do that day.

2. Ask your friends and read reviews.

There is nothing as valuable as real-mom, in the field experience when it comes to choosing products. I loved talking to my mom-friends and asking them which products they loved and why.

I also chose to do a lot of my registering online. I loved going to the stores and seeing the items in person, but ultimately the most helpful part of choosing items was reading the reviews.

3. Research the store carefully.

Choosing the place you register can make a huge difference—there are so many options! My advice: Target. Okay, if you know me, you know that Target is my answer to most of life's problems—but seriously, their registry program is awesome.

Here are some elements to consider when choosing your store:

  • Variety: Will you be able to register for everything you need? Do they have multiple options for each item so you can choose the one that works best for you?
  • Welcome programs: Choose a store that has an awesome welcome incentive program. Target gives you a big bag of goodies worth $120, for example, just for signing on.
  • Ease of sharing and gifting: How easy is it for people to find your registry, choose items from it, and have them sent to you?
  • Coupons: Some stores have amazing deals for their registry parents; for example, they may give you a coupon to use on everything that isn't purchased on your registry—Target gives you 15% off!. When you're expanding your family, every dollar counts so this can be a huge help.
  • Return policy: No matter how much planning you do, you're likely going to have a few items you buy (or receive) and then end up not needing (like when my daughter was born and was already too big for the newborn size diapers I had for her). Choosing a store with a flexible return policy is therefore a game-changer.

4. Consider your space.

Shop for the space you have. When my daughter was born, we lived in a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment in New York City (if you've ever lived in NYC you know that the "half" bedroom is code for "look at this corner/closet/nook! It could be a bedroom… right?") So it was really important to choose items that did double duty and that were compact.

If, on the other hand, you live in a bigger home you may choose to double up on some things. For example, it can be helpful to have a changing station on each level of your home so you're not constantly walking up and down the stairs every time they need a new diaper… which is a lot.

5. Remember that you have time.

I felt a ton of pressure to get my registry right… like right now. The truth is that it doesn't have to be a stressful experience. With the flexibility of online registries, you can add or remove items with the click of a button (especially if the return policy is good). You also can (and will) be able to run to the store to pick up an item in person or get something delivered pretty quickly if you need it and didn't register for it.

Remember, as will everything in motherhood, the goal isn't perfection. Creating your registry is about getting prepared, feeling confident and above all, getting so excited for this baby to join your family.

Okay, mama, as promised, here is my checklist for everything you need to register for:

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • A place for diaper changes (table, pad or towel on the floor, or other location)
  • Crib or bassinet for sleep, and mattress (confirm that crib meets current safety guidelines)
  • Sheets and mattress protector
  • Baby monitor(s)
  • Gentle baby-safe laundry detergent
  • Baby soap and shampoo
  • Baby lotion
  • Towels (baby towels are cute, but grown-up towels work just fine)
  • Hairbrush
  • Nail clipper or file
  • Fan for baby's room
  • Stroller
  • Car seat
  • A place for baby to play while contained
  • A pump and milk storage bags (if applicable)
  • Bottles and formula (if applicable)
  • Nursing pillow
  • Newborn thermometer
  • First aid kit
  • Suction bulb
  • Diaper bag
  • High chair
  • Bibs
  • Onesies
  • Safe sleep swaddles
  • Bouncer
  • Playmat
  • Toys
  • Teethers
  • Baby carrier
  • Safety gates and babyproofing items