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Your Baby Registry: A Plan of Attack

With the right strategy, you’ll get exactly what you need and want for baby

Photo: Thinkstock

When to Register

Ideally, you’ll want to wait until the fifth month of your pregnancy -- so you can be (pretty) sure items won’t go out of stock before the birth. Plus, if you’re finding out baby’s sex (around week 20), you’ll want to wait until you get the news, since it’s bound to influence your choices. But make sure to complete your list before baby shower invitations go out.

Moms’ Registry Secrets

"The store's registry consultant will try to come with you as you go around the store and encourage you to put all the things on your registry. This isn't required, so feel free to ditch her -- politely!" -- Rachel S.*

"Don't register for clothing! I found that everyone wants to buy cute baby clothes and the important stuff gets ignored! I didn't put a single article of clothing on my registries but still ended up with an abundance of clothing." -- Sarah W.

"Go to the store on a weekday when it's less crowded so you can take your time." -- Emily P.

"Do your research! Know the safety stats on the car seats, strollers and high chairs before you pick the cutest one that matches all of your stuff." -- Alison O.

"We went to walk through the store first, without registering for anything, but made a list of all the gear we liked. Then, when we got home, we checked online reviews. Other people's feedback helped us finalize our registry. I made a couple swaps when I saw other parents’ comments." -- Erin H.

"Remember: Too many parts and pieces just means there are more opportunities for that piece of gear to break!" -- Marisa M.

*Some names have been changed.

Who to Shop With

This isn’t a solo mission, so invite your partner to join you. If he can’t make it, it doesn’t hurt to bring along mom, your sister or a friend who’s done this before, but just one is all you need (so you don’t get overwhelmed with opinions).

Where to Register

To make this as easy as possible, pick one or two key retailers that stock all of the items you’d like. Make sure at least one of them has an online registry so you can edit your list from home. You don’t want to have to make a million trips to the store.

How to Prep

Before you go, talk to friends or relatives who are new moms, or head on over to TheBump.com/community to make some new-mom friends. Get their reviews on the baby gear they use and the full skinny on why they like or dislike certain items. Then, while you’re at the store, take a look and, if you can, test them out for yourself.

What to Do

STEP 1: BIG-TICKET ITEMS Start with large stuff, like nursery furniture. You’ll likely want to buy most of this yourself, since cribs and dressers have to be ordered, and they’re pricier than the average shower gifts tend to be. Then register for things most babies need: a car seat, a stroller (or sling or carrier), a bathtub (unless you’ll use the sink) and a playard.

STEP 2: THE DAY-TO-DAY Next, think about baby’s everyday life. How will you feed her? A breastfed baby might not need the nipples and warmers that a bottle-fed baby uses. But if you plan to give her expressed breast milk (while you’re apart), you’ll want the bottle gear and a breast pump too. Now, how will you keep her calm and happy? Swings, bouncers and toys come in handy for fun -- and for soothing and learning. Add first-aid gear and diapering supplies as well. And, of course, you’ll need crib sheets.

Don’t Overdo It

It’s tempting to register for a cute potty chair or toddler shoes, but don’t go crazy scanning stuff that baby won’t need for months (or years). It’d be nice to get them, but your gift givers might then decide to buy a ton of those and skimp on the stuff you’ll need right away. So focus on more pressing items, like clothing in newborn and 0–3 months sizes, and receiving blankets. Add just a few of the irresistible older-kid things that make you ooh and aah.

Save Money

Cost is a huge factor -- if money’s tight (for you or for your gift givers), you’ll probably want to shy away from the expensive stroller. But whatever the price, look closely at what you get for your money. Is the stroller easy to steer -- and does it work the way you want it to? Will it grow with baby, or will you have to replace it later? Sometimes purchasing one higher-priced item will end up saving you money in the long run, since that’s all you’ll ever need. Also look for double-duty gear: Some playards can be used as bassinets, and some diaper bags can transition from newborn to toddler.

Make Your Picks

Can’t decide which fill-in-the-blank to get? With every decision, consider where you live and how you’ll use your baby gear. If you’re in an apartment, look for a space-saving mini-playard and a folding high chair. If you drive a lot, a travel system (car seat/stroller combo) makes it easier to transport baby. But if you’re a walker, maybe a baby carrier or a bassinet-style stroller is a better bet. In the end, your choices all come down to your lifestyle.

Plus, More from The Bump:

Ready to Register? Start here!

New-Mom Registry Must-Haves

Most Overrated Baby Gear

-- The Bump Editors

See More: 3rd Trimester , Baby Registry , 2nd Trimester , Baby Gear