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Building a Better Baby Registry

Welcoming a baby can be expensive. Beyond the medical bills, the cost of the bare essentials of baby care like diapers, carseats and nursery furniture add up quickly. A baby registry is a great way to let family and friends know how they can help you stock up on some of the products and gear you'll need in your baby's first year.

Our advice for creating a baby registry? Avoid the temptation to fill your registry with the latest baby care gadgets and trends. Instead, fill it with the basic, truly necessary items you'll need in your baby's first year. In other words, be wary of registering for the wi-fi-enabled wipes warmer but be sure to register for the actual diapers and wipes you know you will use every day.

We've pulled together a Baby Registry Checklist that breaks it down and gives you the scoop on the items no registry should be without and a couple that can wait.

Must-Have Registry Items

Diaper + Wipes Subscription - Did you know you can register for a whole Year of Diapers + Wipes? No, you don't need to know right now what brand and size diapers you will need when your baby is 8 months. Nor do you need to store 12 cases of diapers in your already tight living space. Just register for an IncrediBundles.com Diaper + Wipes Subscription! Gift-givers can give you a 3-Month, 6-Month, 9-Month or Year of Diapers + Wipes. Upon their purchase, IncrediBundles.com will send you a sweet announcement package that includes a beautiful plush teddy bear holding a certificate with your unique subscription activation code. You will redeem your diapers and wipes on your schedule and can choose from all of the major brands and sizes each time you redeem - Pampers, Huggies, Luvs and Members' Mark.

Car Seat - When registering for a car seat, it's best to do your research in person. Pick the seat up and walk around with it. Notice its weight and think about how it will work with your lifestyle. Will you be taking the carseat in and out of the car a lot and carrying it up and down stairs? Then a lightweight model is a must. Try putting the seat in and out of the base a few times - is it easy and intuitive? There's nothing worse than struggling to put your seat in or out of its base while simultaneously trying not to wake the baby nestled inside. Is the car seat compatible with your stroller or does it work with a lightweight frame you can use for that purpose?

Bouncy Seat - At some point as a new mom, you will find you need to make dinner, load the washing machine or just sit and answer a few emails. A bouncy seat can keep your baby comfy and safe under your watchful eyes but out of your tired arms.

Muslin Swaddling Blankets - These blankets are so versatile we consider them a must-have for people living in any climate. Beyond their use as a swaddling blanket, they also work as a stroller blanket, breastfeeding cover and burp cloth. They're also perfect for creating a clean spot so you can lay your baby down and let him stretch on his back or tummy when you're out and about. We recommend getting 2-4 of these so that you always have one handy while the others are in the wash.

Books - The science is clear, reading to your baby from day one and raising your child in a book-rich environment is the best way to set her up for success in school and in life. Have a little library for your baby's first year ready and waiting for her when she comes home from the hospital. Stock it with lots of sturdy board book versions of bedtime stories, nursery rhymes and classic tales along with lots of lift-the-flaps, touch-and-feels, soft, washable cloth books and more! You can register for Library Starter Kits like a Bedtime Book Bundle or a Baby's 1st Books Bundle from IncrediBundles.com.

Here's a tip!

Make sure your registry includes a variety of price points to fit lots of budgets.

We love:

Registering for gifts that bundle small essentials together into one great package like a Bedtime Book Bundle or a Baby Play Starter Kit. We also love gifting the practical in a way that's innovative and chic like the IncrediBundles.com Diaper + Wipes Subscription Gift.

Stroller - Whether you live in the city or the country, a good stroller will give you and your baby the opportunity to get out and about every day. Fresh air and exercise boosts everyone's mood - parents and baby alike. Again, when registering for a stroller, do your research in person. Does it fold up easily? Even better, does it fold up with one hand? Is it lightweight enough for you to easily get it in and out of the car or up and down a flight of stairs if you need to? Is the handle long enough or adjustable so that both you and your partner can push it comfortably? Does it have enough storage in the basket underneath? Do the wheels make for a comfortable ride?

Baby Monitor - If you live in a small apartment like I did when my first was born, you can skip the baby monitor. If you have a larger home, though, it's a good investment. Even if your baby sleeps in your room for the first year, babies nap a lot. You'll appreciate the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly when your baby needs you, no matter where you are in the house.

Baby Proofing Supplies - Your baby will be crawling before you know it. Install those gates and tip kits before your baby is born so you won't have to worry about doing it afterward.

Useful-to-Have Registry Items

Baby Carrier - This is definitely an item you can buy after your baby is born if you think it will fit into your daily routine. If you do register for a baby carrier, pick one with good back support, that is certified healthy for your baby's hips and is easy for getting baby in and out. Our favorites? The Ergo is comfy for parent and baby, has handy zippered pockets for stashing keys and money and is a cinch to put on and take off. The Baby Bjorn is also great - lightweight, easy to use and versatile - allowing your baby to face in and out.

Pack and Play - A pack and play can have many uses - a bassinet for keeping baby in your room during the early months, a safe, clean space for your baby to sleep when you're visiting grandma and grandpa and an enclosed play yard for baby to roll around in while you make dinner.

High Chair - Your baby won't start solids until she's 4-6 months but time flies when you're tending to a little one. Look for a high chair that is easy to clean - especially the straps, easy to get your baby in and out of and that works with your kitchen. If you have a small space, a giant high chair will frustrate you after a while, no matter how cool it looks in the store.

Here's a tip!

Test-drive baby gear items before you register for them. Registering for a baby carrier? Try putting a few on. If it's too complicated you might hesitate to use it. Ask to see how to take the straps off for cleaning the high chair you are considering or how to fold up the pack and play for storage.

We love:

Products that grow with your child. A high chair you can convert into a chair that pulls up to the family table? Fabulous!

Activity Play Mat - Your child will outgrow this mat by about 4-6 months but you may find her using it multiple times a day until then. Babies need lots of time to stretch out and an infant activity mat is perfect for tummy time. Look for one that is easy to pop into the washing machine and that comes with a few great hanging stim toys to get your baby looking, reaching and - eventually - grabbing and moving.

Toys - With children, it's been said that "the days are long but the years are short." This can be especially true of life with a young baby. Toys can make those days more fun for both of you! Have some good toys ready and waiting when you come home. We love open-ended toys that will grow with your child - a set of soft, washable blocks that you can build up and help her knock down, a baby-friendly set of instruments that you can both shake as you sing fun songs, a sweet set of hand puppets that you can use while playing with your wide-eyed baby. Make it easy for gift-givers by registering for a starter kit of toys for a baby's first year.

Think Twice Before You Register For

Bottles - Even if you're sure you'll bottle feed, you never know what brand your baby - or you - might wind up preferring. You'll find it's better to buy a few of one brand and see how you like them before investing in the whole set.

Breast Pump - The one you rent from the hospital is often far more powerful and efficient than any you might buy. Never fear, the only part you rent is the motor. The hospital will give you new tubes and attachments - the parts that come in contact with you or your breast milk.

One final tip? Create a baby registry even if you are not having a baby shower. It can take the pressure off of friends and family who want to buy that perfect gift without having to worry about your color or style preferences. A well-planned baby registry addresses the needs and expenses you know you will face in your baby's first year. By making sure those are covered, you'll have the gift of less time worrying and more time enjoying the most amazing journey ever - parenthood!