The Family Groove

The Rules of The Registry
The Family Groove
October 2006

Sweet anticipation! Part of the fun of pregnancy is the planning. “The sheer excitement of baby is made even more real with each piece of crib bedding you eye and each stroller you test drive,” says Julia Beck, Founder of Forty Weeks, a marketing company that studies expectant and new parents. Once unheard of, the baby registry has become not only a new rite of passage for expectant parents, but also an important organizational tool. “Getting a clear view of the ‘big picture’ is helpful,” Beck says. “Considering what you need to keep baby-and you – comfortable, safe and tended to is a great way of visualizing your new role as parent.” Thinking about how you will use products, where they will be placed and how you intended to share the parenting tasks-among other things-will help you create a clear and realistic registry map.

But how do you begin to register for products that you know little to nothing about? “Many web sites offer useful buyers guides,” Beck explains. “However, the work is in knowing what features are your actual priorities.” Thinking about and evaluating how you will use products and how they will integrate into your existing life is the key to building a successful registry. “It’s a ‘lifestyle thing,” Beck says. “An honest assessment of yours will lead you to a well-selected registry that is filled with the most useful and valuable products for your new life with baby.”

Below, find Beck’s six simple rules for creating a realistic registry:

RULE ONE: Honestly evaluate your lifestyle.

Before making your registry, taking an assessment of your lifestyle and how baby-and all that baby brings-will affect your day to day living, recommends Beck. Do you live in the city or in a busy suburb? Do you spend long hours in the car or travel by plane? Are you are having multiples or one baby? Do you work close to home or do you commute further distances? Will you will be at home or will you be at work? Will your child spend regular time out of the home perhaps with a grandparents or aunt? Will you will be at home with baby or will baby be with a sitter? “Knowing the facts will determine what you truly need,” she says. “Focus your registry on the items that will be much-loved work horses for you.”

For example, when choosing a portable crib or play yard, as they’re often labeled, consider your lifestyle when choosing the right one-or how many-for which to register. If you live in a single-level dwelling, choosing a play yard with an added changing table isn’t exceptionally necessary, as you can get to baby’s nursery easily should a change be necessary. However, if you live in a multi-level home, it is a good idea to register for one that has such options, so you won’t have to make multiple trips up and down the stairs when it’s time for a nap or a change. If baby goes back and forth to one place-say, Grandma’s or your beach condo-on a regular basis, you’ll want to register for two play yards. “Selecting a play yard with added features that help to entertain, organize or otherwise create an easy transition to a second locale for you and baby is wise,” says Beck.

If you are traveling and taking your gear on the road, the bottom line is less is more. “Consider a basic travel yard suitable for infant and up,” Beck suggests. “Look for a moderate level of features and look for one that’s lightweight and offers an easy set up and break down.” If your play yard is for your home base make the choice for one that both reflects your personal style while at the same time seeking out features that make daily life with baby simpler.

RULE TWO: Carefully consider when and where these products will be used and by whom.

When selecting items that you’ll have-and use-for a while, first considering when, where and by whom they’ll be used is key to insuring you won’t need to reevaluate them later. Take a baby carrier for example. “‘Babywearing’ is very popular,” Beck notes. “It keeps baby and parent close while at the same time keeping an adult with two hands to spare.” Before choosing one, consider what the climate will be during your baby’s first few months. If it will be cold, think of choosing a sheepskin variety, and if it will be warm, choose one that wicks away moisture. Additionally, if Dad plans on taking baby out regularly, choosing a gender neutral fabric-as opposed to a pink floral-is a wise move. Finally, “Having more than one carrier is a good idea if you anticipate this will be a big part of your life with baby,” recommends Beck, who loves JJ Cole’s Premax for Dads, ($40, www.greatbeginningsonline.com) and Oopa Baby slings for Mom (www.oopababy.com).

RULE THREE: Forget status-products that work for you are key.

When choosing baby products, while it’s tempting to selecting the celeb favorites that are regularly splashed across the pages of Us Weekly (heck, if it’s good enough for Gwyneth and Gwen….), they may not be your best fit. “You are not keeping up with anyone but baby, and keeping up with baby is no easy task,” says Beck. “Strollers are a prime example where people choose brand over function.” To register right, think again, and consider your priorities. With strollers, for example, considering whether you’ll most often be maneuvering around an urban jungle or your local mall will determine which kind of wheels you’ll need to look for. Will you be in and out of a car? You’ll need something that folds easily. Traveling frequently? You’ll need something lightweight. Thinking about all of these factors will allow you to develop your stroller amenity wish list, and hopefully prevent you from spending tons of cash on a stroller that is more form than function.

RULE FOUR: Ask around.

The saying is true: mother knows best. “Other Moms are the best sources of information out there,” says Beck. “Take advantage of the wisdom of your friends, family and other trusted women who have already used and experienced products you are considering.” Using their suggestions to find out which features count and which ones amount to nothing but hype can save you money, not to mention the headache of making multiple trips to your local baby superstore.

RULE FIVE: Life goes on.

After you deliver, you’ll quickly realize that all those people who said “Enjoy it-it all goes by so fast!” were right. Naturally, when it comes to baby’s gear, even the need for certain items is fleeting. “With so many changes in baby happening each day, registering for ‘later’ products as well and ones that grow with baby is a smart idea,” says Beck. Though you won’t need them immediately, consider including on your list items such as a high chair or a bike trailer for use in months and years to come.

RULE SIX: Keep yourself in mind.

Staying on top of your day-to-day duties is tough enough-adding baby to the mix is enough to make even the most on-top-of-it parent frazzled. “It’s always a good idea to register for tools to bolster your organization and offer you a little relaxation-or just plain old help- along the way,” Beck advises. Among her favorites: Babydaze, a new parent organizer that facilitates keeping track of baby’s feeding, sleeping and changing-to name a few-schedules ($20, www.babydaze.net) and a sleep consultation with SoHo Parenting (for prices, visit, www.sohoparenting.com).

With these six basic rules of registry plus your own common sense, building a registry that works for you and your family will become not only easy, but fun. For recommendations on TFG’s favorite baby gear, see our registry essentials it list.