If you choose to register, you will want to start the process about half way through the second trimester. To make it less overwhelming and more enjoyable, break the process down into manageable steps. Tackling this task in bite-size pieces will hopefully lessen the frustration and prevent you from "biting someone's head off" as a result.
Getting on the Same Page: Baby Budgets and Essentials
The first thing to do is make sure you are communicating with your partner. How much money do you plan on spending? Do you anticipate someone will host a shower for you? What really is essential for you to have and what can you do without? (See: What Do Babies Need). For more specific tips on figuring out essentials from non-essentials and making a baby budge see Baby Gift Registry Tips.
Discuss what stores are available and readily accessible in your area and to those out of town friends and family. If you find it impossible to find a store that is central to a majority of people, consider registering at two separate locations. Another possibility is to make one of your registries at an online universal registry. Universal registries allow you to pipe in your wish list from several different stores and locations. You may want to check out:
- Alternative Gift Registry A great option for parents who welcome slightly used gifts and sustainable products in addition to traditional registry items.
Do you wonder if any store stands head and shoulders above the pack of possibilities? Honestly, one of the "big bears" in baby products tends to stand out among parents - Babies R Us. Parents note that the registration process is easy and efficient, and they have stress-free return policy. You also may want to talk to other parents and find out their thoughts on your local stores.
Baby Registries and Return Policies
However, if you do not have a Babies R Us near you, pretty much any department store will have baby registry options (Baby Depot at Burlington Coat Factory, JCPenney, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart, etc). You may also find a small, local baby boutique that handles registries. The problem with many of the larger department stores is that they have a poor return policy. So before you get antsy and sign up at your long-time favorite department store, be sure to read the registry and return policy carefully. It may be advisable to avoid stores that have clauses such as:
- Requiring a receipt for returns even if the item is shown as being purchased on the registry.
- Refusing returns on items that received a greater quantity than what you registered. (And this WILL happen. It is inevitable).
- A time limit for returns.
- Stores that make you jump through hoops to use a gift card for online or telephone purchases.
- Stores that have gift cards that expire or devalue over time (this is prohibited in some states).
- Limitations on the number of returns or exchanges you may have.
- Stores that will not permit you to purchase items online if they are available at the brick-and-mortar store. (That makes it a hassle for people who do not live near the store).
Once you have located a store with an easy registry policy, the next step is to begin browsing their selection of products. Do not make the mistake of registering for gifts without much forethought to what you need or want. Spend a few "date nights" visiting the store together or sitting down to browse online at what options are available (not to shop). These excursions need not be long and drawn out. They can merely be a simple trip through the aisles or browsing through their website to know the selection of products available to you.