Having a Baby > Budgeting Baby Swag: Your Baby's Registry

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“Silver spoon or diamond rattle? Where do I start with baby swag?”

You fancy, huh? Why not go all out and pimp baby’s ride with an Aston Martin stroller?

The reality is you’re on your own with a lavish stroller, but your well-intentioned friends and relatives will be more than happy to help you with basic baby swag. Enter the registry, the saving grace of all your baby expenditures.

But hold that saving grace thought for a moment. Unless your parents have generously offered to pay for a crib or a luxe glider, you’ll still drop some major cash on big-ticket baby items yourself. Most new parents discover that not everyone buys gifts from the registry, so you may end up purchasing some leftover registry items ahead of baby’s arrival. So much for saving money!

We can’t tell you what to put on your baby’s registry, but we can tell you that figuring out your needs and wants will save you cash in the process. Start by scanning parent forums and mommy blogs and asking your parent friends which baby items were essential and which have transformed into useless hazards for their toddler to climb on. Analyzing your lifestyle is also crucial to assessing baby necessities: if you live in an area where you must drive everywhere, a comfortable car seat is more of a priority than a stroller would be for a parent in a more walkable city. If you plan on going back to work shortly after baby’s birth, you may find a great breast pump indispensible. 

Make two separate lists of swag: a list of items your baby will definitely need and a list of items that are just simply nice to have. You’ll narrow down hundreds of potentially unnecessary registry items this way.

Your needs might include:

  • Convertible crib: from $200 to $600
  • Car seat: from $100 to $300
  • Stroller: from $50 to $550
  • Bottles, diaper bag: $70 to $200
  • Clothing: rompers, socks and booties, one-piece pajamas, etc.: $1,000 over baby’s first year
  • Other essentials: receiving blankets, crib sheets, burp cloths, baby thermometers

Your wants/nice-to-have items:

  • Diaper genie: $30 to $80
  • Electric breast pump: $50 to $300
  • Bassinet: $50 to $300
  • Rocking chair: $100 to $400
  • Other non-essentials: wipe warmer, sling carrier, baby bouncer 


Tallying the total costs of your Needs list as well as your Wants list (you’d be surprised at how many parents-to-be don’t do this) can also help with your post-shower budgeting: if the diaper bag you requested was the only neglected registry item on your Needs list, you’ll know you can allocate more cash to the incidentals on your Wants list without breaking the bank. 

Because you’ll need as much help as you can get, we have a few more registry-related suggestions:

- Know that if you set up a registry with a particular store, like Babies-R-Us or Buy Buy Baby, you’ll get a discount of 10 to 20% off registry items that were never purchased. You might also be able to return gifts (like the wipe warmer that wasn’t on your registry) to these stores as long as they carry the particular item or model. 

- Babies generally grow out of their newborn sizes quickly – clearly all that pooping and crying requires a lot of calories – so put three-month and six-month sizes on your registry, along with the next size in diapers. If you’ve got generous pals, maybe you can add actual baby swag

- Consider creating a financial registry for your newborn- you can buy exactly what you need, or you can put that extra cash towards your child’s college savings.

Need more ideas on how to keep kiddie costs down? We’ve got ‘em.


Photo: Instant Vantage

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