How to Create a Budget-Friendly Baby Registry

Flipping through the latest baby magazine in your OB's office might convince you that you need to fill your baby registry with the latest and greatest of every baby gadget you see.  You probably already know you don't need all of those things, but you may not know how to craft a budget-friendly baby registry when you – and your friends and family – are on a budget.  We gathered some ideas practical moms everywhere have used to create a cost-conscious baby registry that won't break the bank.

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  • Frame your registry as a list for reference.  Let friends and family know you would like what's on the list, but that second-hand is fine if they would rather look on Craig's List.  Just be sure to ask them to double-check that no item they are buying used has been recalled.  Some friends may also be happy to pass along a jogging stroller or baby swing rather than sell it to someone they don't know if they know you are open to used items.  Some moms say that the nicest clothes they got for their baby were second-hand and barely worn.
  • Get last year's models.  That stroller you have been eyeing is pretty great.  Chances are last year's model was pretty great also. If you don't mind not having the latest upgrades (most of which are probably pretty minor anyway) you might be able to get a steal on closeouts.  
  • Don't shy away from registering for one or two splurge items you really want.  Friends and family often chip-in to buy bigger items or a relative might surprise you by going big, even if you don't expect it.
  • Keep your registry limited to only the items you really need and avoid name-brands.  If you keep the “fluff” off the registry there is a better chance you will get what you want.  
  • Avoid registering for items that solve, as one mom put it, “first world problems.”  Most moms get by just fine without wipe warmers and diaper ointment spreaders.  
  • Ask for gift cards to places you are likely to shop for baby items and diapers, like Target.  
  • Don't stop looking for items even after they are on your registry.  Although you may have registered for a stroller, keep looking for a great one second-hand or on sale.  If you find a great deal, snap it up and then take the item off your registry right away.  Many moms find great items at no cost through their local Buy Nothing groups and Facebook pages.
  • Look into policies of stores before you register.  Many offer a 20% discount on items that are not bought off the registry after the baby is born.  So, even if you don't expect anyone to buy you a new crib, put it on your registry and get a nice discount on it after all of your gifts have been bought.  
  • Rather than risk too many people ignoring the registry because they can't afford what's on it, be sure to include lots of lower value items you know you will need like diapers, wipes, pacifiers, burp cloths, small toys, and swaddle blankets. 
  • When registering, think about what you can afford and what you might buy off a registry.  Often, if it's something you would buy for a friend or family member they are willing to buy the same for you.
  • If you don't expect anyone to buy your higher-ticket items, you can specifically ask for gift cards towards buying a pricey item like a stroller or crib.  
  • When crafting your registry, think about items you may really need, like infant Motrin, diaper rash ointment, and baby shampoo.  These types of items aren't usually on registries, but if you are on a tight budget it will help to have these given to you as gifts.
  • Don't register for too many clothes, if any at all!  It is nearly impossible to predict how big your baby will be and how quickly he will grow and you don't want to get stuck with too many gifts you never use.  You can usually find inexpensive second-hand clothes in the right size when you need them. 
  • Register for exactly the items you would buy if no one bought them for you.  That way, you stick to a budget and don't ask anyone to get you anything you wouldn't be willing to buy yourself.
  • Don't put cheap items on your registry just to have them on there.  This is a waste of money and you will wind up with junk you don't want or need.
  • To make sure you get something you need and avoid things you don't, consider a registry with a theme like diapers-only.  Those on a smaller budget may buy just one pack of newborn size, but those with a larger budget may buy you two packs of every size.  Not having to buy diapers for the first year (or two) will free up a lot of money to buy other things you need.
  • If you think you may have another child, consider registering for items that can be re-used.  Ask for all items in gender-neutral colors and look for strollers that can be converted to doubles if needed.  
  • Don't get caught up in name brands.  All car seats and cribs have to meet the same safety standards.  In the end, that's all that really matters.  

However you approach your baby registry, just remember what your baby needs most is you! Anything else is a nice bonus.

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How to Create a Budget-Friendly Baby Registry

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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