Creating your baby registry is all the fun of shopping without the matching credit card statement, and what could be better than that?
Bonus: the wonderful system of a baby registry lets you plan for your new baby while simultaneously relieving friends and family of the awkward task of figuring out what you really want to open at your baby shower. Or, thanks to a little thing like a global pandemic, a baby registry lets your loved ones still have the chance to shower you with gifts—even from afar.
But while baby registries are definitely convenient, you may be surprised to know that not all baby registries are built the same. Some come with more perks than others, so here’s how to choose and what stores give you free gifts when you do a baby registry with them. (Hint: it’s not the one you think!)
In this article:
What is a Baby Registry?
A baby registry is a compilation of products that a new parent “registers” for with a store so that other can people can buy gifts for your baby off of your list. Some stores offer some kind of perks, like discounts for registering with them, or coupons for any items that go unpurchased.
Baby registries can be created online, or you can go to the store in-person and scan the items to your registry. Anyone buying off your registry also has the option to order gifts online and have them shipped directly to the address you set up, or they can also shop in-person if they prefer.
Overall, a baby registry provides a convenient way to create a list of all of the baby items you will need to become a new parent. (And trust us, there’s a lot!)
Who Needs a Baby Registry?
First, let’s talk about who gets a baby registry. If you’re expecting a baby—whether you’re pregnant, have a surrogate, or adopting—you deserve a baby registry. And just in case there was any confusion: you absolutely do not have to have a baby shower to create a baby registry.
Sure, sending embossed invitations may increase your chances of completing your registry, but whether you live far away from your support system or it’s baby number four and no one has offered to throw you a shower this time around, baby registries are a great way to allow friends and family to support you.
When Should You Create Your Baby Registry?
While there’s nothing stopping you from registering for your baby the moment the pregnancy test reads positive, many parents wait until they’re further along in their pregnancies or until they’ve learned their baby’s gender, if they chose to.
This is simply to give you time to do your research and choose the baby products that you want. Registering too early might leave you with loads of products you’ve changed your mind about, or a cart full or gender-neutral onesies when your heart is really hoping for those pink ones.
It’s always a good idea to get input from other parents about baby products too. For instance, a mom in your Lamaze class might turn you on to cloth diapering or your favorite influencer might share their must-have car seat, and since our online shopping options have never been better, building your registry over time is also easier than ever before.
What to Add to Your Baby Registry
When choosing which baby products to add to your registry, think both big and small. If this is your first baby, you will need all the major items like car seats, strollers, and bassinets. But there also are a myriad of smaller items that add up with a new baby as well, so don’t overlook those.
For instance, babies tend to repeatedly destroy their diapers, and those gorgeous swaddling blankets that double as burp rags have higher price tags than you might expect. Allow your friends and family to help you with these costs by adding them to your registry.
Additionally, don’t feel limited to just registering for the baby. At this point in your parenting journey, you might be running low on maternity pants or feeling anxious about the dwindling time you have left with your partner as just a couple. Don’t be shy about registering for Lanolin for your new-to-breastfeeding-nipples or adding gift cards to your favorite restaurant.
Friends and family might forget about the new parents in their excitement over the arrival of a baby, but once reminded, they always appreciate the opportunity to help.
In general, here are some must-haves to add to your baby registry:
- Infant car seat
- Convertible car seat for when your baby outgrows the infant bucket seat
- Diapers, diapers, and more diapers
- Wet wipes
- Changing table or changing table cushion
- Nursery glider
- Crib or mini crib
- Boppy pillow or other nursing pillow
- Pregnancy pillow
- Stroller that’s compatible with your infant bucket seat
- A lightweight stroller
- A jogging stroller if you’re the active type
- Baby play mat or play gym (better yet, both!)
- Baby play yard
- Infant swing
- Infant bouncy seat
- Babyproofing supplies like a baby safety gate and outlet covers
- Breast pump
- Bottle accessories, like cleaning supplies, sterilizers, drying rack, and breast milk storage bags
- Baby clothes
- Baby wrap and carrier
- Baby monitor
Where Should You Register?
Choosing where to create your baby registry is obviously a very personal choice, but you may want to consider things like ease of returns, the retailer’s accessibility for your friends and family, and of course, those tempting incentives. So, let’s talk the juicy stuff: what stores give you free gifts when you do a baby registry?
Incentive programs (i.e. the way stores try to entice you to host your registry with them because it = big bucks for them!) range from goodie bags stuffed with samples, coupons, and free gifts to the convenience of a universal registry.
A major incentive to consider when choosing where you register is the completion discount. You’re eligible for completion discount after your baby is due—the retailer will offer you significant discounts on any remaining items on your list for a certain period. This is a great way to save on several boxes of diapers and an absolute lifesaver if you still need to buy your glider and crib set.
Here are some of the most popular choices for baby registries, along with what perks you can expect.
Baby Registry Options
If you’re leaning towards a universal baby registry experience, many parents go with MyRegistry.com. MyRegistry.com is not limited to online shopping, meaning, if you add items from Buy Buy Baby to your registry, your guests can still make purchases in-store, but you will need to download the app. While MyRegistry.com doesn’t offer many perks specific to them, the stores you choose to register from such as Target, Walmart, or Amazon, will still offer their own respective perks.
MyRegistry.com is also a great option if what you really need is cash but you feel tacky just asking for it, but keep in mind there are fees associated with their Baby Fund option.
- Perks: With Target, it’s all about the incentives. When you register with Target, you get a goodie bag valued at $100.
- Completion discount: You don’t even have to wait until your due date to get your completion discount with Target—you can start completing your registry 8 weeks prior to your baby’s ETA and nab a 15% discount.
- Accessibility: As far as accessibility, your friends and family members probably don’t live far from Target, and even if they do, Target’s online shopping experience is user-friendly and their prices are affordable.
- Returns: Returns with Target are easy—If it’s on your registry, they’ll take it back without a receipt.
- Universal registry: Yes. Target does have a universal registry feature. That’s right—you can register at Target without registering for only Target products. This enables you to go ahead and add items you find at other places while simplifying things for your friends and family by keeping it all in one familiar place.
- Perks: As far as incentives go, you can expect a goodie bag and an interactive registry that allows you to invite friends and family to add suggestions to your registry. They also offer registry analytics to help you ensure that there are options for your friends and family whatever their budget.
- Completion discount: You’ll get a 15% completion discount with Buy Buy Baby.
- Accessibility: Buy Buy Baby stores are pretty centrally located, but for anyone not local, they also offer free shipping for the items on your registry.
- Returns: New or unopened items can be returned for merchandise credit for up to a full year after purchase. Not bad.
- Universal baby registry: Because Buy Buy Baby is exclusively a baby store, they do not have a universal registry option. If your friends and family prefer brick and mortar stores, they will likely have to make a special trip to buy off your registry. The good news is, Buy Buy Baby is under the same parent company as Bed Bath and Beyond, so your friends probably already have a stash of 20% off coupons they will be able to use.
- Perks: When you register for your baby with Amazon you receive a welcome box valued at $35.
- Completion discount: Amazon offers a 10% completion discount to registrants and a 15% completion discount to Prime members.
- Accessibility: As far as accessibility goes, there aren’t a lot of people left in the United States who don’t have an Amazon addiction, which means registering on Amazon may be the simplest place to create your baby registry. If you have a lot of big items on your list, Amazon also makes group gifting a breeze by allowing your friends to contribute to your Amazon balance, which you can use to make some of those high dollar purchases.
- Returns: Returns will follow standard Amazon operating procedures, although some brand-specific items will have their own return regulations.
- Universal baby registry: While Amazon is exclusively online, they do have a universal registry feature that your guests to make purchases that aren’t just from Amazon.
- Perks: Crate and Barrel is another popular registry choice for many parents-to-be, and with a range of beautiful and exclusive baby items, one can easily understand why. You get a convenient app, a helpful checklist feature, and a group gifting option. And although the site doesn’t advertise any physical freebies, registering will give you access to the store’s expert design services to help you create the perfect nursery for your baby.
- Completion discount: Crate and Barrel offers a 15% completion discount for 3 months
- Accessibility: With higher than average prices and only 89 locations in the US, registering exclusively with Crate and Barrel may not be the most accessible option.
- Returns: Full returns with gift registry number and/or gift receipt in the form of merchandise credit.
- University baby registry: Nope.
- Perks: With Walmart Baby, you’ll get some of the most affordable prices on baby merch, a guaranteed price match, and a baby box full of free baby products valued at $40.
- Completion discount: Sadly, Walmart Baby does not offer a completion discount.
- Accessibility: If you’re looking for a store your friends and family can visit in person, your best bet may be Walmart. With nearly 5,000 locations in the United States, there’s a reason Walmart is such a popular choice for new parents everywhere.
- Returns: Walmart has easy returns on registry items for up to a year.
- Universal baby registry: Again, that’s a no.
- Perks: A great perk of the Babylist registry is that it allows you to add in non-store options that would be helpful to you, like dropping off a homecooked meal or doing laundry for you. We love that idea because it allows for a wide range of gift experiences for everyone who wants to help you. You also get a free goodie box that has samples for both you and your baby if you register for a Babylist registry and make a minimum of a $10 purchase from a Babylist store.
- Completion discount: Babylist offers a 15% completion discount, so you’ll be able to score a serious discount once your registry is complete.
- Accessibility: Babylist guides you through the registry process, whether you’re pregnant, adopting, still trying, or a surrogate. You can curate a baby registry through Babylist from any store online and Babylist will keep it all in one place. It’s like a list…for your baby, so, a baby list.
- Returns: Babylist accepts returns up to 9 months for purchases directly from the Babylist store.
- Universal baby registry: Yes!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a completion discount?
A completion discount is a discount that you are eligible for when your pregnancy is “complete.” Based on the due date you provide when you sign up for the registry, you will be eligible for a discount on products near or after the due date. (The exact rules on the timeline differs based on each retailer.) So, once your completion discount kicks in, you can purchase any item on your registry with the discount. Score!
Can I put stuff for me on my baby registry? Mama needs items too!
Um, heck yes. No further explanation needed. You definitely need to put a few self-care items just for you on your registry.
If I don’t plan on having a baby shower, can I still create a registry?
Yes, of course. Especially in our pandemic-days living, not everyone will be hosting in-person baby showers, but your loved ones will still want to shower you with presents, no matter what kind of celebrating you choose to do.
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