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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Preparing for Baby: Registry 101...

Note: LONGEST post ever written.

Pregnant?  Check.  Little pooch?  Check.  Bigger appetite?  Check.  A clue as to what you need for this baby?  No!!

We have all been there, pregnant for the first time and suddenly scared of having to register.  So many choices and even if you are a "researcher" there is just an overload of information.  In an attempt to simplify things here is a list to help you tackle your registry/shopping.

1.  REGISTER!  Its not that fun and takes a good chuck of time but do it.  People want to buy things for you and they need help knowing what you prefer for your baby.  Even if you don't end up keeping what they buy you can always put it towards store credit, a.k.a DIAPERS!  

2.  Where to register?  Most cities have these chains but definitely if you are in Charlotte I would go with either Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us, and/or Target (I would do one of the baby stores and Target).  As for which baby store, they are pretty similar.  If you like Bed, Bath, and Beyond you will love Buy Buy Baby (same chain).  Babies R Us is sure to have anything you need as well.  Both stores accept each others coupons too but only if they are not expired.

3.  Carseats.  I personally feel like this is one of, if not the most important item on your list.  Obviously your child's safety is of utmost concern and they will also spend a lot of time in this thing.  In a nutshell anything made by Britax is going to be as safe as it gets.  It is one of the priciest brands but again if there is one area to splurge this would be it.  There are also great options from Graco, Evenflo, Chicco, and Safety 1st (just Google "safest car seats" and specific seats from each brand will be listed on numerous sites).  The main thing to take into consideration are the car seat laws (which seem to change weekly).  Choose a seat that will be able to grow with your baby.  I would definitely recommend an infant carrier for the first several months.  Your baby can sleep in it and not have to be disturbed to be moved to a stroller.  Choose one that is light weight for your own sake.  Down the road I would suggest the convertible seats so that your child can use it through booster-hood.  Just check the weight limits and go with a trusted brand that fits your budget.

4.  The big 6.  These items are the other things that I consider your most used baby gear.  If you are deciding where to put your money these are things that you won't want to leave out:

  • stroller:  Either the Baby Trend Snap-n-Go or Graco Snug Ride frame strollers are the way to go.  The easiest way to transport your baby is to pop out their seat, snap it into the stroller, and be on your way.  The baby stays asleep and you don't have to lug a massive stroller in and out of your car.  I may cause a ruckus here but I see zero point in the large travel-system strollers.  Once the baby is past the infant seat stage a lightweight umbrella stroller is the way to go.  That is if they will even stay in a stroller at that point!
  • pack n play:  Somewhere along the road you are going to take a trip or have house guests meaning you will need a portable bed for the little one.  Brand is not as much a factor as features.  Choose a pack n play that has the changing table and bassinet attachments.  This will be an extra spot for changing and napping during the early days.  No matter which brand you go with prepare to need a physics degree to open and close it.
  • papsan:  This little vibrating chair will be your newborn's second home for much of the first few months.  I was thrilled with my Fisher Price edition because it lasted through two boys and was easy to clean.  Pick one with a removable cover for washing!  As far as a papsan vs a swing...a swing is on my list of "things to borrow."  Some kids love the motion of a swing but some, like mine, don't.  We may have used our swing once or twice but I have friends whose kids lived in it. The papasan will definitely get used so maybe just test out a friend's swing before purchasing your own.
  • bottles:  Even if you plan to breast feed until kindergarten you should still have some bottles on hand.  You do not want to be stuck at 3 am with a screaming infant, no milk supply, and no bottles and in that case formula.  I would recommend Dr. Brown's simply because I have used them and they were miracle workers for my son's sensitive stomach.  Considering most newborns battle gas it doesn't hurt to get the bottles designed to combat it.  
  • Aiden and Anais swaddling blankets:  I am not a brand-freak but these blankets are hands-down my favorite!  They are made of a really light fabric and are huge compared to the swaddling blankets you will receive at the hospital.  There are all kinds of "miracle" blankets on the market but with these you really only need to know how to swaddle.  They are fool-proof because you can wrap and wrap until your hearts content...and they are happy little burritos.  
  • monitor:  Other than watching your baby eat and stare you will also want to watch them sleep.  You will definitely start to feel like a stalker.  For best stalking abilities you will want a video monitor.  The Summer Infant Slim handheld monitor is always ranked highly and although costly it will save you many unnecessary trips to the nursery.
Now, obviously there a lot of other things you will need but those are my top 6.  Once you have those accounted for its time to move on to these items:
  • bath tub:  I have gone two routes on this.  With baby #1 I bought the tub with toys attached, a neck cushion, and hammock.  He seemed to enjoy it but it did become bulky after awhile.  When he was old enough to support his neck I started using the Bumbo for his bath seat.  With baby #2 I opted for just an infant bath sponge.  This was much easier to move in and out of the tub, was very inexpensive, and he was plenty comfortable.
  • high chair:  I did not register for this just because you don't need it right away.   I waited until we started solid foods and then choose a Peg Perego for its good reputation.  Anything with wheels and a removable top tray is the way to go.
  • exersaucer:  Same as with a high chair you may not use this until the baby has some neck control.  Evenflo has a great selection.
  • play gym:  In the beginning your baby will spend a lot of time on the floor swatting at toys.  Play gyms are great for teaching them hand-eye coordination and it will give them endless hours of entertainment.
  • diaper trash cans:  Champ or Genie?  I vote Champ simply because you can use regular (cheaper) trash bags and the Genie requires use of their special bags.  We also have often just used our regular trash cans.
If you are breast-feeding:
  • breast pump:  Medela is the long-standing trusted brand.  They also make any attachment or accessory that you may need.  I would defintiely look into borrowing one or renting one from your hospital because you may not end up using it for long, or at all.  
  • Breast Friend or Boppy:  This is like asking Republican or Democrat.  People are definitely on one side or the other.  I won't reveal my allegiance but if possible test one out to see which is more comfortable for you.  Its totally personal preference.  Let your husband test it too bc it will be his pillow at the hospital.
  • breast pads, nipple butter, storage bags:  nuff said.  Oh, except about the pads I would suggest thin ones that don't make circular bulges under your clothing.
  • formula:  At least one can for emergencies.  The hospital will also send you home with some sample bottles.
   Other things I have learned along the way:
  • IKEA has great crib sheets.  They are $6 for a pack of two and are plain white so they will match any bedding.  You will want extra sheets on hand and these are great because they are super stretchy and easy to get on and off.  Plus you can bleach any stains.
  • Buy extra bottles if you are bottle-feeding.  You will wash more at one time but you will always have one on hand instead of washing between each feeding.  I suggest at least 8-10.
  • Lots of white onesies.  Yes its fun to buy those cute, tiny clothes but the truth is you will change the baby a thousand times a day and you will hardly feel like finding that matching shirt and pants.
  • Choose a sturdy, durable diaper bag.  I was given a Lands End canvas bag (the small size) and it is all I ever need.  The material holds up to abuse and it has room for all the essentials.  Buy Buy Baby has a great selection as well!
  • Keep a journal.  I kept a log of feedings, poops, pees, and milestones.  Although you think you will remember it all, you won't.  It helps when you are sleep-deprived and for when you start all over again with another baby.
  • under-eye concealer, dry shampoo, coffee:  Do what it takes to look presentable until you have rejoined the land of the living.  

  *If I have another baby I am getting the Nap Nanny.  It would be such a great, covenient way to let a newborn nap.  It is inclined so I am sure helps with gas and could replace the pack-n-play in the early stages when the baby can't move.

*A bassinet can be handy but it is also on my "borrow list."  Between the pack-n-play feature and just using the crib (even though they look so small!) this is not something to invest in unless you just really want to.

For all the other things on your list just do go with your gut.  Don't waste a lot of time stressing over which bibs or what pacifier.  Ask a couple of close friends what they used and then choose what you feel best fits your family.  This will be great practice for motherhood.  There will be so many times that there are too many options, endless questions, and lack of experience but at the end of the day you are now mom and will have to make those decisions.  Trust yourself and call it a day!


  1. I will be printing this out and taking it with me to register! Thank you for all this info, and that piece of advice at the end made me feel much better :)

  2. This list is so wonderfully organized and helpful! One thing I would add is that online registries are great. I'm using MyRegistry.com which lets you register for items from any store in the world (so right now I've got Buy Buy Baby, BRU and a local store from my town) and guests can shop for you online or in-store. So far it's been really simple and easy to use so I would definitely recommend it! Thanks again for the very helpful list!


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