My first baby registry experience was like that of so many other mamas I know: overwhelming, emotional and generally disappointing. I spent a good portion of it in fetal position in the crib section (oh, the irony), and the rest of it at the nail salon across the street. I registered for exactly zero items.

Two weeks later, I tried to do my baby registry again – this time at giggle. The beautiful baby shop was a breath of fresh air – the sales staff was knowledgeable, the store was easy to navigate, and the product selection was curated perfectly. The giggle experience was downright civilized. It made me excited for baby to arrive, and helped me feel confident about my future role as a mama.

I – and so many other city mamas – have Ali Wing to thank for that. The giggle founder and CEO has made sure that all of her shop is more than just a shop. It’s a resource for new and expectant parents. Below she offers advice on building the perfect baby registry and picks her fave 5 items for the day you bring baby home.

How can parents-to-be prepare for registering before they come into the store?

Buying for becoming a new parent is as much (maybe more?) about the kind of parent you want to be as it is the baby. Bottom line is that most baby products are really new parent-products – to help you with the baby! To that end, my universal “before you start shopping” advice is to assess you and your partner. Specifically, assess your lifestyle. How do you live? Do you live somewhere you have a lot of space or not? Will you (plan) on working out of the house after the baby is born? Will you have help at home or out of the house? Do you live somewhere you will drive, walk or take mass transit a lot? Do you travel a lot?

As a general rule, how would you describe yourself as a consumer – over-prepared/a little bit of everything, minimalist, eco-minded, quality over quantity, etc. These are the type of “lifestyle” factors that should drive your product decisions to make sure you get the best products for you. (The good news is that there are so many good products out there today, so getting a great product is not the hard part. Getting a great product for you and how you live is the key!)

What's the benefit of doing your registry in the store vs. online? If you can't get into the store, what tips would you suggest to make online registering easier?

Touch and feel – in addition to personal, educated service – can often put a new parent set of nerves at ease. With all of the great digital tools, expecting parents can learn a ton about products online that didn’t use to be available. However, hands-on time for “how to’s” and “demos” can go a long way.

If you cannot get into the store, my giggle registry advice is threefold:

1. Take advantage of our quick-start baby registry tools – they really help with the basics!

2. Don’t try to do all the “technical” (gear) categories at once; take your time and leverage our “Gear Guides” for the lifestyle questions you would otherwise be covering in-store with a sales associate to help you opt into the best product for you.

3. Take advantage of our onsite chat and call center – we’re here to help, and our teams are trained just like in the stores!

What questions should parents-to-be ask of their registry associate?

In addition to the above suggestions, I always recommend being upfront with the associate about what things are most important to you in your product choices. Is it the best “value” for each product? The most “eco/green” for each product? Most contemporary or modern designs? Things that work in a small space? Use our giggle Criteria to help you – they were gleaned by talking to new parents week over week, year over year …to understand exactly these lifestyle questions that really make the difference between a good product and a great product for you!

Are there certain big-ticket items that you'd encourage new parents to buy for themselves rather than register for? Or smaller items that your friends and family are less likely to buy?

Very few new parents register for their nursery furniture – unless:

1. They want take advantage of the registry close-out savings for their big ticket items and are willing to push those purchases close to their due date.

2. They decide sharing their choices helps people see their “style” pick.

3. Parents or friends are looking to “go in on/share” in a group gift. All of these are great reasons to include the big items along with the little items on your registry.

Our big advice is that you do include a healthy balance of price points on your baby registry. Gift-givers spend on all levels, and many also like to combine items, but everyone has a budget. Give them options.

Last but not least, most better registries – and certainly at giggle – allow you to get a store credit for things you want to exchange. Extras can always be used towards the items you didn’t get.

Give us 3 baby product trends for 2014.

1. Muslin. More and more, American parents have bought into the notion that muslin is an important nursery fabric.

2. Sleepsack. Very few parents will skip the AAP recommended approach to sleepsack (and/or sleepsack swaddle) sleeping. And why not?! It’s easy and safe.

3. Monitor. And probably one that has some sort of iPhone interface viewing on-the-go and everywhere. This is a category that has changed a ton recently, and is now working with phones versus being separate devices.

How much do you REALLY need for baby?

As an overall philosophy, for most of this, less is more. You already have to buy enough things when you become a new parent. It’s better to not buy a ton of each before you get to: (1) know your baby a little; and (2) meet yourself as a parent. You will find out a lot about what you like/don’t like once you get in the game. The best example is things like diapers or even basic layette items. Whether it’s a type of diaper closure or a kimono-style or crew neck, your baby’s body -- and your fingers – will tell you which you prefer with some practice. Most people do end up having some very clear preferences.

Of course, if you are happier having absolutely everything ready, then weigh how relaxed that will make you feel vs. the risk of needing to trade out some choices after you get going and discover your preferences.