If you are pregnant and are expecting gifts, there are several reasons you should consider a baby registry. A registry helps friends and family know what you need and want. Without a registry, you will end up with items you do not need that you cannot return or exchange. A registry eliminates duplicates because once someone buys an item, the list updates to show someone purchased it. There are also perks for parents who create a baby registry. Many will give you a welcome gift that includes baby items, samples, and coupons. The majority of registries will also offer a completion discount. This means you can get a discount on any remaining items you purchase off your registry.
This article walks you through considerations when choosing where to register, the pros and cons of the top options, and tips for building your baby registry.
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What is a Gift Registry?
A gift registry lists items you wish to receive as gifts. This is created at a specific retailer or website and is available to the public. This concept started with wedding registries in the 1920s. Baby registries have become popular in the last few decades and are now standard for most expecting parents. Friends and family can access your registry online and see what gifts you would like for your new baby. When someone purchases an item from your registry, the list automatically updates. In recent years registries have evolved from a single retailer to websites that can list items from any physical or online store and even include cash funds for your baby’s future college.
Reasons to Create a Baby Registry
If you are pregnant and are expecting gifts, there are several reasons you should consider a baby registry. Friends and family want to buy you a gift, and a registry helps them figure out what you need and want. Without a registry, you will end up with items you do not need that you cannot return or exchange. A registry eliminates duplicates because once someone buys an item the list updates to show someone purchased it. There are also perks for parents who create a baby registry. Many will give you a welcome gift that includes baby items, samples, and coupons. The majority of registries will also offer a completion discount. This means you can get a discount on any remaining items you purchase off your registry.
You should complete your registry before baby shower invitations go out. Typically, this celebration is early in the third trimester, starting with week 28. At a minimum, you should plan on a baby shower at least 4-6 weeks before your due date. Invitations should be sent 3-4 weeks before your shower, or potentially earlier if people will need to make travel arrangements. For example, if you plan a baby shower at week 32, you should finish your registry by week 28.
While you can potentially knock out creating a registry in a couple of hours, this is a much longer process. You are welcome to start your registry as early as you want, but there may be value in waiting. Parkinson’s law is an adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for completion. If you start your registry three months early, you will work on it for three months. This leaves a lot of time for changing your mind and second-guessing your selections. If you want to limit the amount of time you spend on your registry, give yourself two weeks. This should be plenty of time to research products, build your registry, and edit it.
Building Your Registry
It is well worth it to put some thought into your registry. With some planning, you will have a much better list of what you truly want and need for your baby’s arrival.
Deciding Where to Register
The first step is figuring out where to register. You have a lot of options here. It may be tempting to create multiple registries. Keep it simple by using one registry, so it is easier for you to create and more manageable for guests to find and navigate. The top priority is registering with a store or online service with most of the items you want. The next significant consideration is making it convenient for people to purchase items. As you explore your options, there are a few other features to consider.
Most registries will offer a completion discount, typically around 15%. This means you can get a discount on any remaining items you purchase off your registry. This can make a big difference if there are items you still need to buy.
Read the fine print and understand the terms of the completion discount. Every retailer stipulates the discount amount; some will cap it at a specific dollar amount. Not all items may be eligible, and the discount may only be eligible on regularly priced items. This discount is usually only valid within a window of time before and after your due date, and you can only use it once. Hold off on using it until you know what you have and need to buy to make the most of your completion discount. You can also add items to your registry that you need to purchase to include them in your purchase using the completion discount.
Return and Exchange Policies
Registries do make it easy to return or exchange items and usually honor exchanges without a receipt if it is an item purchased from your registry list. Some retailers will also extend the window in which you can return or exchange items, some up to one year. Most policies require items to be new and in the original packaging. Keep this in mind when setting up your nursery and unpacking everything for your baby. Many parents wash clothing ahead of time. If you cut the tag off and wash it, you cannot exchange it. Most retailers will give you store credit towards a future purchase if you choose to return rather than exchange an item.
Many companies that offer registries will give you a welcome gift that includes baby items, samples, and coupons. Companies use this marketing tool to get their products in front of expecting parents. Typically the retail value of a welcome gift ranges between $35-100. Freebies are always fun, but these welcome gifts may not be free in many cases. If you are excited about the welcome gift, ensure you understand the terms. Some retailers require you to pick up your welcome gift at a physical store. Other registries may require you to pay to ship. Many require your registry to reach a specific completion point (like 60%) fulfilled by adding certain items to your list and a minimum purchase.
The majority of registries will offer group gifting. This allows multiple people to contribute to higher ticket items. Some registries only allow group gifting on items over a certain dollar amount, usually $100+. Traditionally, adding more expensive items like strollers or cribs to the registry was discouraged. While you should have things at all price levels, you are welcome to include expensive items. You may get lucky and have one generous person purchase it for you, or several people may pitch in and get it as a group gift.
Some registries will allow you to include cash funds in your registry. This lets people contribute money rather than purchase a specific gift. A cash fund could be for financial support to ease your transition to parenthood or support you and your partner in taking time off work when your baby arrives. Cash funds could go toward a service like hiring a doula or a newborn photo shoot. Some parents will set up a cash fund allowing people to contribute to their baby’s college fund.
Registries with cash funds will charge a fee to either the giver or the recipient. Fees vary by company and can be a percentage of the cash gift, a flat amount, or both. There may be additional fees if the person making the cash gift uses a credit card. Fees typically start at 2.5% of the gift amount and may include an additional flat fee starting at $5 per gift. Ensure you understand the fee structure if you plan to utilize cash funds.
Top Registry Options
There are a lot of options for baby registries. Let’s review the pros and cons of the top registries.
Amazon carries everything you could possibly purchase for a new baby. Their registry also allows you to add items from other websites.
- Universal Registry: Yes
- Returns & Exchanges: 1 year
- Completion Discount: 10% and 15% for Prime Members (a worthwhile membership for new parents)
- Sign Up Bonus: Welcome box ($35 value)
- Pros: Nearly everyone already shops on Amazon. A wide selection and lots of online reviews and information are helpful when deciding what to add to your registry. There is free shipping for Prime members and free shipping on orders over $35.
- Cons: It can be overwhelming to shop on a website that has thousands of results for a simple search term.
Target carries everything you need for a baby, plus you can add items from other websites. With 1,800 locations, in-store pick-up or drive-up orders, and free shipping on orders over $35, Target is very convenient. If you already love shopping at Target, this is a great option.
- Universal Registry: Yes
- Returns & Exchanges: 1 year
- Completion Discount: 15%
- Sign Up Bonus: Welcome kit you can pick up in a store ($100 value)
- Pros: Convenience for purchasing gifts in-store and online. Target carries all of the essentials, so you can use gift cards to stock up on anything and everything you could need as your baby grows.
- Cons: You must return gifts in the store.
buybuy Baby has physical stores and has a wide selection of everything for babies and kids. Bed Bath and Beyond is the parent company, and there are always 20% off one item coupons you can also use at buybuy Baby.
- Universal Registry: No
- Returns & Exchanges: 1 year
- Completion Discount: 15%
- Sign Up Bonus: Free goody bag available to pick up in stores
- Pros: Specialize in babies and kids and have a wide selection of everything you could need. You can get one-on-one assistance with your registry in the store.
- Cons: There are 133 physical stores, much less than other retailers like Target or Walmart. Prices tend to be higher than other retailers.
Walmart has 4,500 store locations and is a great option for lower prices on everything you need for a baby.
- Universal Registry: No
- Returns & Exchanges: 90 days
- Completion Discount: None
- Sign Up Bonus: You can request a welcome box online after you create your registry.
- Pros: Walmart has everything you could need, and the prices are very competitive.
- Cons: There is no completion discount. Marketplace items may be subject to additional return and exchange policies.
You may think of Pottery Barn Kids for furniture and décor for your nursery. Their products are of excellent quality and tend to be expensive. They also offer products from other brands, including car seats, strollers, and other baby gear.
- Universal Registry: No, but you can add items from their related brands: Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Williams Sonoma.
- Returns & Exchanges: 90 days of event or purchase, whichever is later
- Completion Discount: 20% on regularly priced items, excludes baby gear and many things from other brands.
- Sign Up Bonus: None
- Pros: Pottery Barn offers high-quality furniture and other products. You can consult a free design consultant or chat with an expert for registry advice.
- Cons: Most items are somewhat limited and on the expensive end. Pottery Barn Kids does not carry things like diapers, wipes, or bottles.
Babylist is a universal registry that allows you to add anything to your registry from any store, plus cash funds.
- Universal Registry: Yes
- Returns & Exchanges: 9 months for items from Babylist store, differs for other retailers
- Completion Discount: 15% to the Babylist store
- Sign Up Bonus: Hello Baby Box, you pay $9.95 for shipping
- Pros: This is the most versatile registry if you want to include many things from different websites or cash funds. There are links to multiple retailers with prices for each item so you can purchase at the best price.
- Cons: You are subject to the return policies of each retailer. The completion discount only applies to the Babylist store.
My Registry is a universal registry. You can register for gifts from all your favorite retailers & sync the store registries you already have. You can add items from physical stores by uploading photos and information on where to purchase them. My Registry also offers cash funds.
- Universal Registry:
- Returns & Exchanges: Varies by store
- Completion Discount: Varies by the individual registry
- Sign Up Bonus: No
- Pros: This is a great option to sync multiple registries and be able to assess all of your registry items in one place.
- Cons: Terms and conditions like exchange policies and completion discounts vary by the individual registry. Not as user-friendly as Babylist.
Register with partner stores using the same email address you use on The Bump, and they will sync them to The Bump. Partner stores include Amazon, Pottery Barn Kids, buybuy Baby, Target, Crate&kids, and Walmart.
- Universal Registry: No
- Returns & Exchanges: Per retailer
- Completion Discount: Per retailer
- Sign Up Bonus: Per retailer
- Pros: This is a great option to sync multiple registries if you have more than one registry with partner retailers.
- Cons: Terms and conditions like exchange policies and completion discounts vary by the individual registry.
Tips When Building Your Registry
Registries should have an option to keep your list private. Do not publish it or make it public until you are ready for everyone to see it. You may also have options to add additional privacy controls if you only want friends and family to view it rather than anyone who visits the registry website.
Read the fine print about completion discounts, welcome boxes, or other terms and conditions.
Watch out for seasonal items available when you build your registry, but that may not be available later when people go to make purchases. This is a bigger issue at retail stores like Target and Pottery Barn Kids than at Amazon, which carries everything year-round. You can also find out if items are no longer available and replace them if you periodically review your registry.
If you can personalize your registry, please do. Some websites allow you to add a picture or message. You may be able to mark some items as a high priority. Some registries also will enable you to add comments to each item. Adding a comment can give some context as to why you want a specific item and make the gift more personal.
Start with a List
There are endless checklists available online of what to include on your baby registry. Plus, each registry gives you a list. It is in the retailer’s best interest for you to add as many items as possible to your registry. The more things you have, the more items friends and family purchase, and the more money the retailer will make. Starting with a checklist is helpful, but ultimately, you need to make your list. Having a list will keep your registry focused on what you truly need and want and keep you from adding unnecessary items. There will be a separate episode breaking down exactly what to include on your registry with a free downloadable (and simple!) checklist.
Visit a Store
Some retailers like Target or buybuy Baby allow you to create your registry at a physical store. Whether you build your registry in person or online, there are some items you may want to check out in person. Even if you plan on creating your registry with an online platform, you can visit any retail store to check out their baby products.
Edit Your Registry Online
Add items to your registry without worrying about whether you have duplicates or if you are adding too many things. You can, and should, edit your registry online. Thoroughly review and edit your registry before you make it public and notify any friends or family about your registry. Periodically revisit your registry to ensure the items included are available and in stock. You may also find a better option for a product and want to update it or decide you can remove an item you no longer need. You can continue to update your registry throughout your pregnancy.
Notify Friends and Family of Your Registry
There are mixed opinions on whether to include where you are registered on your baby shower invitation. On the one hand, people may see this as explicitly asking for gifts. On the other hand, anyone who will be purchasing a gift will want to know where you are registered. A common workaround is to include a separate piece of paper with a note where you are registered. If you choose to send electronic invitations, you may decide to add a message about where you registered within your message or at the very end of the invite. If you are going through the work of creating a baby registry, let people know where they can find it.
Thank Your Friends and Family
If you are fortunate to be able to create a registry and your friends and family are generous and purchase some of those items, you must thank them. The most formal way to thank people for gifts is with a handwritten thank you card. If you do not have the person’s address, you may be able to get it from another friend or family member or send a text or email asking for their address. Send a physical thank you card in the mail if you can. You can choose to send thank you messages via email or text. Although these are less formal, you can craft a heartfelt note to let the gift giver know how much you appreciate the gift. If you receive a gift from your registry and do not know who it is from, you can usually contact the registry service and find out.
A nice touch to show your appreciation for gifts down the road is to send a picture of your baby with the gifted item. Your aunt who bought you that cute 3-month outfit will love seeing a picture of her niece or nephew wearing it months later. If you want to do this, take a photo of each gift with the card or a post-it note stating who it was from so you don’t have to keep mental track of who bought each item.
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