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The Belly Blog

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Creating a Baby Registry

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A few weeks ago, while in one of my favorite baby stores, I noticed a wide-eyed pregnant couple armed with their registry scanner staring helplessly at the wall of baby bath products.  Then, I overheard the salesperson who was chaperoning them through the registry experience say, "You HAVE to get a spout cover. You see, what happens is, your bath spout can get really hot. And your baby will touch it and get burned. If you don't cover the spout with something it can be REALLY dangerous."  My first thought was... "Wow, what a nice, helpful salesperson."  But, my second thought was, " If the water is hot enough to make the spout burn the child, wouldn't the water also burn the child?"  Don't get me wrong - bath safety and appropriate water temps are obviously of the utmost important.  But scaring a new parent into thinking their bath spout is going to cause third degree burns seems a little excessive, no?  I'd imagine the chances of baby bumping his head on the spout are much greater than lukewarm bath water resulting in a bath spout turned branding iron.

My point? There's a ton of advice out there about what you MUST HAVE to ensure that baby is happy and healthy. As a new parent, you have a ton of choices to make about what's best for YOUR baby. And, you can be sure that your mom, sister, best friend, neighbor, and baby store salesperson are all going to tell you what they think. So, we're not going to do that here.  What you choose for your child is up to you.  Instead,  we'd love to offer some advice to make the overwhelming task of registering just a tad bit easier. (Because, if you haven't figured it out by now... we're all about making things easy for new parents. You have enough to worry about!)

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1. Do your homework FIRST.

Send a quick e-mail to moms you know and trust and ask them what some of their "must-haves" were.  Of course, just because their baby loved something, doesn't mean that yours will, but if you ask enough people you might notice that the same baby monitor or swaddling blanket is mentioned again and again.  You might also ask them for suggestions on specific things that are based on mom's preference (not baby's) such as stroller features or most comfortable nursing tanks. Make yourself a list of the most recommended products so you don't forget to check them out at the store.

2. Research return policies.

When I think back on the first few months of my daughter's life, I remember constant trips to our local baby store to return the things I thought I needed and to get the things I really needed.  It's trial and error.  Honestly - it might take 5 different pacifier brands before you find the one your baby won't spit out with projectile force.  Or, you might realize that you have a drawer full of newborn-sized clothing but you gave birth to a 9 pound baby.  Make sure the store(s) you choose to register with have a return policy that will allow you to return unopened items even months after they are purchased. If your shower is in June but baby isn't due until September, a 30-day return policy won't do you much good. Trust me, you'll appreciate the opportunity to get the things you really need and change your mind once baby arrives.  I also truly believe in giving your business to places that treat you well.  Good customer service should be expected. Don't register somewhere just because it's convenient if you know they won't treat you like the important person you are!

3. Consider alternatives.

If you are lucky enough to have many people in your life who want to contribute to baby's needs and shower you with gifts of love, you'll probably feel like you need to have a TON of things on your registry.  But, let's face it, babies don't need that much stuff. Or, at least that much stuff all from one place.  Lucklly, there is a very cool alternative to a "one store' registry of days past.  I recently discovered the BabyList registry and totally wish this would have been around when I was creating my own registry.  BabyList allows expectant parents to create ONE registry online but with products from ANY store they wish.  This means you can have a crib from Ikea, bedding from Land of Nod, a personalized blanket from a local boutique, a handmade mobile from Etsy, and baby clothes from The Gap all on one easy-to-use registry. How cool is that? I also love that you can add services to your BabyList registry.  I know I would have LOVED the gift of a housekeeping service, delivered meals, or the support of a lactation consultant but never imagined this was something I could put on my registry.  Rather than scanning a bunch of baby stuff that you don't really need or want, consider creating one registry with products and services from all your favorite places using a service like BabyList.

4. Think about group gifts.

I know I was often afraid of putting the "big-ticket" items on my registry for fear of looking greedy or presumptuous.  After attending many showers for many friends, I soon learned to appreciate those big ticket items on the registry when my girlfriends and I were looking to go in on a gift together.  I absolutely LOVE my Summer Infant video monitor and always try to get a group of friends together to purchase this for others when it's on their registries.  I love being able to provide a friend with something they might not splurge on for themselves, and a group gift is a great way to do that.

5. Remember what babies really need.

Food. Love. A place to sleep. Someone to keep them safe. It's overwhelming to stand in those endless aisles of baby products and try to make sense of what you'll need, how it works, and which size, color, brand or design is best for you.  We're lucky that there are so many great products out there that solve the myriad of problems new parents face.  But, understand that most problems are temporary and might not require a solution.  I'll never forget when I told my husband I needed to run out immediately and get this fancy water pouring device for bathtime. It promised to keep the water out of baby's eyes as I rinsed her shampoo and I just knew it would result in fewer tears at bathtime.  He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face and said, "Can't you just use your hand? Or teach her to lean her head back?"  (Keep in mind, his favorite thing to say is, "We didn't have that when I was a baby, and I turned out just fine.) ; )  We have many modern day conveniences available to us, most of which WILL make our lives easier.  BUT - if you buy all of them, you'll end up with a house full of gadgets that you'll use for only a few months and a big mess of things that you really don't need.  Disclaimer: Does it seem a little strange that a baby product company is telling you not to buy too many baby products?  Yeah, it does.  But we're keeping it real. And besides, Sticky Bellies monthly stickers last for a year and fit easily into a drawer or file. Totally practical! ; )

Tell us!  What would YOU add to this list? What's the one piece of advice you wish you had before you journeyed into the world of baby registries?

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