When you’re prepping for parenthood, a targeted baby registry or two can alleviate the guesswork for friends and relatives, help you get just what you need and avoid unwanted or duplicate items. But because you’re not paying the tab, it’s easy to ask for products you don’t need, stock up on the wrong stuff and generally take the “shopping” experience less seriously. Don’t blow it. If done right, a baby registry can really help you get equipped and minimize the cost of your baby’s first year, which can total more than $24,000, depending on your circumstances, according to the USDA. Here are five traps to avoid when registering for gifts for your new baby.
1. Don’t register online without ever trekking to the store. Big mistake. Even if you’ll ultimately register online, going to the baby products super store and/or local baby boutique can help you get familiar with the products so you’ll know what you’re “buying.” You’ll know so much more about strollers, for example, if you take them for a test drive. With car seats, you can request taking the car seat floor models to your car for a mock installation. You want to make sure you can easily operate the car seat, especially the harness latch or you may not do it right every time. Once you have a firm idea of the best car seat, stroller, crib, glider for you and so forth, then list them on your registry.
2. Don’t register for everything in one day. Registering requires lots of decision making for each product. If you try to register for everything at once, you’ll be too pooped to “purchase” wisely. Instead spread out your registering sessions over several weekends. Plan to spend the majority of your shopping or registering time on the big-ticket items: the stroller, crib and car seat. In fact, it’s a good idea to devote an entire shopping or registering session to these three products then fill in at other times with everything else.
3. Register in the morning. Registering can be fun, but it’s work, too. It’s best to shop in the morning when you’re freshest. Also, make sure you’re not hungry; your brain thrives on food, and low-blood glucose levels that result from lack of fuel can lead to haphazard decision-making. Take along a snack and a bottle of water and wear comfy shoes, for sure.
4. Don’t disregard everyday items. Practical items make the best gifts because you’ll need them for months, even years, to come. Consider putting items on your registry such as diapers in larger sizes, which can be especially costly because the cost per diaper increases with the size. Think wipes, breast pads and Diaper Genie refills as well as infant formula (preferably the store brand, because it’s nutritionally equivalent to the name brand and saves you up to 50 percent), bottles, pacifiers — one for every room in your house, plus a few for the car; allergen-free laundry detergent, sleep sacks or other Velcro swaddlers, baby nail clippers, a night light, diaper-rash cream and batteries. In general, you’ll need batteries — and lots of them – for anything that vibrates or plays music, such as a bouncy seat or an Exersaucer.
5. Don’t just take your sister-in-law’s advice. Word of mouth can be a powerful motivator for deciding which baby products to choose. Go ahead and take product recommendations from relatives and friends seriously. But do your homework, too, by reading online reviews, talking to sales staff at baby boutiques (they’re typically well-versed on their merchandise) and asking yourself whether recommended products are right for you and your lifestyle. If you live in the city, for example, the stroller that’s perfect for your suburban friend may too bulky for your urban lifestyle, which involves quickly getting off subways and buses.
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