Four years, three kids and lots of hard-won wisdom later.
Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.
Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)
Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some wisdom (and products to go along with it) to help other mamas-to-be crack the code of what to put on a baby registry.
Go shopping with a veteran parent
My husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing as first-time parents, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Target to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leaped at the chance.
By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with a base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own. (Another great option is signing up with a service like Babylist, so you can add products from any store—even Etsy!)
It's easy to plunk down some serious cash on the essentials—but you don't necessarily have to. Chicco's best-selling travel system, the Bravo Trio (which includes the #1-rated Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat) has all the features you need, like a smart fold close, easy-to-install base and UPF protection, at a really reasonable price.
Include items at a variety of price points
When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.
At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)
When it comes to dream strollers, this one is a worthy consideration. Slim and agile without compromising your little one's comfort, the Joolz Hub+ stroller was designed with city living in mind. It features a one-hand steering function so you can maneuver through everything from narrow bodega aisles to busy streets and folds compact for easy storage. Added features you'll love include an easy-to-use 5-point buckle, rotatable bumper bar and oversized shopping basket for those errands.
Pricey? No doubt. But if everyone goes in on it, it's a little less painful. Not only does the Snoo automatically respond to your baby's needs when it senses their fussing or crying, but it also helps teach little ones to self-soothe. It's the recipient of tons of awards and countless accolades from families who say it's actually changed their lives. That might sound like an overstatement, but when it comes to sleep, a solid night of it is nothing short of life-changing.
Gentle and absorbent and totally free from all the yucky stuff, you can never have too many Honest diapers. (If you want to explore other natural options, check out our round-up of eco-friendly diapers and find your new favorite!)
Baby care products are another great low price point inclusion. This gift set from tried-and-true favorites, Babyganics, includes all the (organic!) essentials for keeping your little one fresh and clean.
What does a new mama want most of all? Sleep. Sure, babies sleep a lot throughout the night and day, but they're light sleepers, which often results in interrupted sleep for both you and baby. So what's an under-slept mama to do? Swaddle. These super-soft muslin swaddles are breathable and cozy and last well beyond the swaddling days.
Think about the gifts you would like to give
The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.
I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.
This super-stylish diaper bag from perennial favorite Petunia Pickle Bottom keeps everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) organized and easy-to-access whether you're just heading out for a day of errands or a long-distance road trip adventure. And if you really want to up your game, PPB's inter-mix kits provide separate structured organizers that fit perfectly.
With their gorgeous prints and top-notch quality, Tea Collection clothes are a go-to for gifting and for our own babies. They hold up wash after wash and make every single moment feel particularly photographable. Prices start at $28.
This one pulls double duty as fab wall decor and insta-worthy photo prop.
Ask for things to grow with your child
Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. Like the Omni 360, an all-in-one carrier that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years, or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace. The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.
Carry them inward, outward, front or back with the Omni 360. It's also constructed of lightweight and breathable mesh to keep you both cool, even in warmer temps.
Furniture that grows with your little one is one of the best investments you can make! The aptly named Timeless Collection 5-in-1 crib converts to a toddler bed, day bed, playhouse and eventually a full-size bed, making it the only one you need for their entire childhood.
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