Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

Making Heads and Tails Out of Baby Registry Options www.wifemomhouseohmy.comSo you are pregnant and one of the most exciting and daunting things to do is register for baby. These days there are so many stores out there that have “baby registries” and even more that are combo registries. From Pottery Barn Kids to Land of Nod to IKEA, everyone is getting in on the market. And then there are sites like Bump and Baby List that are more like pooling sites where you can combine various registries. So in this sea of registry options, how do you know where to even begin? Below is my experience and my thoughts on each. (Note: I am not endorsed or compensated for this review. These are my opinions based on my experiences. You may have a different experience than me.)

When I looked at all the options, I decided on five registries for a variety of reasons – Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Target, Amazon and Baby List. I have to admit, hands down my favorites have been Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby.

Buy Buy Baby

We chose Buy Buy Baby for so many reasons. First, its a national chain focused on baby and toddler centric merchandise that is both a brick and mortar store and online shopping store. This meant for us that it would be readily available for people to shop in person or online for our baby shower and with somewhat easy convenience. Since one of their brick and mortar stores was located right in our backyard, it meant that we could physically go test, touch, and ask questions about specific items – which we have done. And truthfully this has been HUGE! For example, I’d done all the research and pretty much decided on the travel system I thought we would be getting. When we registered, which we did in person, we tried the stroller and hated it. One of their stroller experts showed us several others and his personal favorite. After trying several and getting their insight, we ended up with a completely different travel system.

Second, because of its baby and toddler centric merchandise, the store had a HUGE selection of everything imaginable for a baby. With two other exceptions, any baby contraption or need you could imagine, this store had it and most were in store so you could actually touch and ask questions.

Third, we loved their experts and customer service. Every single time I have been in to Buy Buy Baby, I have had nothing but a positive experience with their staff. They are knowledgeable, granted each has their own expertise, and happy to answer any and every question I could throw at them. And though I was unsuccessful in getting the exact dresser and chest I wanted, they bent over backwards to figure out a way to get it for me. And everyone I encountered was friendly and knowledgeable…without exception.

Fourth, the coupons! Without fail, I and my husband EACH get at least one coupon per month of either 20% off a single item or $5 off a purchase of $15 or more emailed to us. PLUS, they come in the mail. They also take unexpired Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and will match competitors such as Babies R Us coupons. Oh and my personal favorite, there are so many less restrictions with their coupons than other merchants.

Fifth, their registry perks. One thing completely unique to Buy Buy Baby is how they handle registry purchases. Let’s face it. You can put everything you want on your registry. You’ve done the research. You’ve decided what’s best for your baby, your lifestyle and you’ve registered for what you wanted. But you know someone will either see something cute they think you will love or they think from their experience you have to have this, and will buy it for you. I’ll admit it, I’ve done it. BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean you will love it or want it or that baby will. As long as someone bought it and gave your registry number, then its added to your registry and even without a gift receipt, you can return it hassle free. This is the only place I have hear of doing this.

They also have free shipping for purchases over $29 and you can earn free shipping for a year of your baby’s life through your registry purchases when your registry purchases add up to $1,000. You can also earn gift cards through their referral program when a friend sets up a registry. Its a $25 gift card off purchases of $100 or more but that buys diapers. 🙂 And, like many merchants, they do offer Price Match Guarantee of direct competitors and even Amazon.com (not their third party marketplace). However, they have hugely competitive prices and I don’t often find their items for less elsewhere, especially when you add the coupons. There is also the 15% completion discount, which they raised from 10% starting in March 2018. This is huge as it puts them on par with Target, Babies R Us and Amazon (with prime membership). Plus it offers the option of making discounted purchases on items not typically covered under coupons.

The last perk for mom and dad –  the goodie bag. So lets be real. Babies are expensive and if you can get FREE STUFF, then why not! That said, other than maybe one or two little differences, all goody bags or welcome boxes are pretty much the same. In this one, we received a baby bottle, two pacifiers, some travel size samples of lotions, wash, pampers, wipes, and coupons with sample packets. Considering babies can be really picky with bottles and pacifiers, getting a variety of free ones is a huge help in determining what baby likes.

A perk to gift purchasers, they have in store FREE gift wrap available with wrapping paper, boxes, and “ribbon”. For a last minute shopper, this can be a life saver, especially if the gift bags for sale are big enough or are too big.

Overall, I’d highly recommend Buy Buy Baby.

Babies R Us – CLOSING ALL STORES

UPDATE: When I originally wrote this review and set it for publishing, Babies R Us was in restructuring and looked like they were going to survive. However, as of March 14, 2018 they announced all Toys R Us, and by extension all Babies R Us, locations in the US and UK are closing or being sold. Personally, as it is one of two baby centered brick and mortar stores, I hope it survives in some form. That said,  I still think they deserve and earned this review. They earned it and I would have continued being a customer through my baby years and definitely continued their special classes and events through child years. Everything I am sharing here will either disappear with their closure or likely be changed if someone purchases Babies R Us.

Like Buy Buy Baby, we had many reasons for choosing Babies R Us. Ironically, for us, its literally across the street from Buy Buy Baby. As with Buy Buy Baby, its major appeal was its brick and mortar as well as online presence that made it easily and readily accessible to our friends, family and well us. Additionally, being baby centric, it had tons of variety of options specific to our baby needs and desires.

The biggest appeal was its registry perks. The biggest is the registry rewards called Endless Earnings. As long as you have it on your registry, every purchase from it earns up to 10% back! Its 5% back on the first $300 and 10% after that. If you have big ticket items this can add up fast. And since its returned in the form of a gift card, about 12 weeks after your due date, you can use it on anything – no restrictions. Combined with their standard rewards program and coupons, you can really rack up the savings. And I think we can all agree when it comes to baby saving is good.

We also loved the 15% off completion discount that like Buy Buy Baby allowed for discounts on previously non coupon eligible items. And, what’s cool is with their baby registry app, you can add items to your registry straight from your phone and as long as its on the registry, no matter how long its been on your registry, its eligible for the 15% off. And they can even order items from your registry with the discount that are not in store. So even your online only items are covered.

As with Buy Buy Baby, they offer free shipping on orders over $29, price match guarantee from director competitors and will match Buy Buy Baby 20% off coupons. They too have hassle free returns, but for only one year and it must be on the registry. One thing I learned at one of their events was that as long as you have the original packaging, you can even return items you have opened. Say baby doesn’t like a bottle, you can take it back no questions asked.

Then there is the free goodie bag. It was pretty much just like Buy Buy Baby’s gift bag. It included for the most part different items and coupons than Buy Buy Baby, which was nice, including a different bottle and pacifier so I was excited for the option. You get one when you register but if you attend one of their registry events, you get a second one with different items in it. Ironically, one of their registry consultants highly suggested doing this as she was the one who shared about the bottles and pacifiers – collect a variety and free is best. Which brings me to another perk, though not so much attached to the registry. They offer events featuring in staff and outside experts on a variety of subjects from lactation to registry expertise to first birthdays and more. I was glad that I went to one and plan to attend future events. It was at the registry event that I got tons of advice from their specialist on car seats and bottles and baby carriers, even found out they have a certified car seat installer on staff to make sure your car seat is installed properly.

Some downsides that we found were the coupon restrictions. If you read them, it feels like almost every brand is excluded from using them and not just your typical wipes and diapers. Also, I have to admit, until the registry event and with the exception of one or two of the sales staff, I didn’t find Babies R Us to be the most user friendly or customer friendly in general. In fact, the first several times I went in, I had nothing but problems. What I found was you have to ask for the experts to get people who know what they are talking about. Frankly, everyone else is just a stock person or cashier and that’s the extent of the knowledge – at least that was my experience. Also, though this is true for pretty much all retailers, if someone buys something off registry, unless you have a gift receipt, you are S.O.L. on returning it. Lastly, something that lingered in our minds in creating the registry with Babies R Us was the bankruptcy proceedings that Toys R Us is going through. Currently they are restructuring and are open and operating and trying to rebrand and replace themselves in the ever changing market. But it meant we were and are really hesitant to order any specialty items. If they did shutdown unexpectedly like Alfred Angelo bridal salons, truthfully we’d only potentially be out our year return option and the  Endless Earnings gift card.

That said, overall I’d still recommend Babies R US for a registry. The registry rewards definitely make it a major plus as does the no hassle one year return. Once you know who to ask for help, its fairly easy to navigate and deal with the downside. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend them now given in about two months or less they will no longer exist. I truly am sad to see them go.

So we did something a little different. We only did public registries with Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us. We really wanted to concentrate our registry for our friends and family and maximize our perk rewards. These two registries by far had the best overall registry perks and overall benefits for our needs. However, there were a few things that we found we wanted exclusive of these two and other registries that had some perks to them that we wanted to take advantage of if we could. Plus I wanted to try them to evaluate them. (Hopefully, this little miracle baby won’t be our only.) If I didn’t see a mutual benefit to us and the merchant, I didn’t try it – hence why I only tried these five. There are others as I mentioned above that also do baby registries such as Wal-mart, Nordstrom, Ikea, Pottery Barn, etc.

Target

When I initially was looking at what registries to include with our baby shower invites, I looked at Target since it was a readily accessible retailer. Ultimately the majority of the stuff we were looking at for our registry was available at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby and since the perks of registry were better with these two in my opinion, we decided not to dilute our registries.  Now that’s not to say Target didn’t have some cool registry features. There were several items that were exclusive to Target that we decided were worth creating a personal registry. We created a registry for us so to speak and didn’t make it public. I got the idea from a friend you did similar for her wedding.

One of the biggest perks that Target offers is a universal registry concept. You can add things from Babies R Us and other retailers, assuming that Target also offers it too. For someone who wants to have one registry, this is a good option while still having a brick and mortar option. Unique to Target is the option of group purchasing which allows people to combine on one larger item gift. Like Babies R Us, the offer a registry app, which given that sometimes the little scanners don’t work, is helpful. As with both Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us, they too offer free returns for one year after your due date and they offer free shipping on orders greater than $35. It was suggested that even after your due date or if you purchase items yourself, still put it on the registry as you never know what baby will like. They do offer a really nice completion discount at 15% off all items still left on the registry.

And like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby, they offer a goodie bag. however, as compared, I think they offer a far superior good bag. I got the standard Avent bottle, Mam pacifier, travel sized samples, foil packet samples, Lansinoh sampler packet and pampers bag with diaper and wipes as well as classic baby coupons often found in gift bags. But I also received Honest Company and Babyganics diapers, and Nuk pacifier. Additionally, and definitely huge in my book was the coupons exclusive to Target. These included 10% off maternity clothes, 10% off a maternity bra or camisole, buy one get one free Starbucks beverage and 20% off one Cloud Island item – which has some pretty cute items in my books and was one of the “exclusives” that had me looking at Target.

Some of the reasons we didn’t ultimately use them as one of our main registries had more to with what Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us offered with their registries and stores that Target didn’t. It wasn’t that Target was bad, it was they were better…for us. When you know you are going to have to make up the difference of what’s left on your registry, you want the biggest discount possible and the biggest return. While Target does offer the 15% completion, 20% off other coupons from Buy Buy Baby and the 10% registry rewards from Babies R Us were a greater perk for us and offered better savings. While Target has some exclusive items that neither Buy Buy Baby nor Babies R Us offers like maternity clothing and Cloud Island, it doesn’t have the overall baby selection that Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby did. Plus it lacked the expertise. One of the biggest perks I have found was the knowledge that came from the expert staff at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby. You are not going to get that at Target, Amazon, Wal-mart or other big box stores/dealers. And frankly with the mass amount of stuff out there for babies, advice is needed.

Overall, not bad and definitely had some exclusive perks that we have enjoyed.

Amazon

Okay, so really I tried Amazon because of how much people just rave about Amazon. But I’ll be honest, it was not my favorite nor did I find it this big benefit over any other registry option out there. That said, there are some perks.

First, Amazon is readily accessible to everyone with a computer. Its somewhat universal because you can scan any barcode on an item and add it to your registry. There are tons of items, even above and beyond baby stuff, available on Amazon so you can add almost anything to your registry. I was able to find maternity clothing and maternity needs that I didn’t find else where. Plus, I found items that I couldn’t find at Baby R Us and Buy Buy Baby such as certain bottles and accessories I was looking for. They offer a completion discount – 10% off if you are not a prime member and 15% off if your are a prime member.

Lastly, they offer a Welcome Box. Frankly, I heard so much about this and based on what I saw in YouTube videos was pretty excited to get ours. But to get it, first you must complete their check list of items, which includes a complete selection of registry items even if you are planning on getting things else where, must either personally or someone else must make a purchase of $10 or more from the registry AND you must be a prime member. Being a prime member does have a 30 day free trial but then its $12.99 a month. So to get the Welcome Box, you have a few hoops. The box contents are variable and what we received I wouldn’t say was that exceptional. In my opinion, it was no better than what I received at Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us or Target, with maybe the exception of the swaddling wrap. Truth be told, I pretty much received the same things I received from my other registries. One thing they do let you know is that the items are variable and based on availability so its like a crap shoot as to what you will receive but at least you know in advance. That said, free is free.

What I really didn’t care for was the return policy. Its only 90 days from purchase – not due date. Depending on what you register for, you won’t know in 90 days if your baby likes it or not. Also, I found it hard to sort out registry items. Unless I knew exactly what I wanted and could look it up by name and brand, I got lost in the pages after pages of the non-relevant mixed in with the relevant. For me, it wasn’t user friendly, especially compared to Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us and Target. Plus being exclusively online, I didn’t get the option of touching, trying and getting to see it before buying. In order to do so, I had to order items, wait for them to come (granted often only two days with prime shipping), try them and if I didn’t like them, repackage and drive them to the post office to return. You are also on your own. There are no experts to ask. And just a personal pet peeve with Amazon in general is you do have to be careful with counterfeits – especially anything going in or on your body! Also, I didn’t find a huge savings between Amazon and other retailers. Maybe a few dollars but when I took coupons into account, it really didn’t add up. Additionally, in order to get the greatest benefits from the registry, you have to be a prime member. After 30 days of trying prime, I really didn’t find a benefit for my family to warrant the $12.99 a month cost. For someone already loving prime, then this might be a good way to go as a registry. For me, I’d probably pass in the future.

Baby List

When I heard about Baby List I was really excited. It promised a universal registry that included Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, Ikea, Land of Nod, Amazon, Pottery Barn Kids, and even Etsy. It also offered a completion discount and a pretty cool baby registry gift box. After trying it, I have to admit I have mixed emotions about Baby List. Major perks that I like were the options to register for cash for college or favors. I mean who doesn’t need a baby sitter or meal every now and then. Since most of my friends and family are not local, this wasn’t something I could take advantage of. I loved the idea of pulling from places that I really didn’t want to register at but still wanted to purchase from such as shelving from Ikea and storage from Land of Nod and Pottery Barn. And I loved being able to register for items from Etsy. We purchased a cute hippo mobile from Etsy and there are tons of unique items that you can only get from Etsy. Their website has tons of suggestions, recommendations and reviews that I found very helpful in trying to decipher which bottle, which monitor and so on and so on. It wasn’t the same as hands on expert advice but it was a huge resource for me in navigating the sea of baby items.

As I said, they do offer a completion discount – 10%, which is not as high as others but not bad. Update: This discount is ONLY for items that are listed AND sold on Baby List. It does not apply to your entire registry. Keep this in mind as at the time of my publishing this, they did not have a comprehensive selection of products such as BuyBuyBaby or Target. I didn’t find anything regarding a return policy so I assume its dependent upon each individual merchant your baby item comes from. I couldn’t figure out how to link or select items from Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us, or Target – there were no links such as with Ikea, Amazon or Etsy so I didn’t find it universal or user friendly. And given that the completion discounts are higher at each of these stores over Baby List, it didn’t make sense to add them anyways.

Lastly, the Hello Baby Box. I was so excited about this based on watching the month’s video of what to expect to receive. There were several products I was really looking forward to trying or at least seeing including the Frida Babies Windies and the Bamboobies nipple cream. When I got it, I was disappointed. However if you based it on what was in the video, my box was missing about 1/3 of the items it was supposed to include and didn’t have “replacement” items for them. Most of the missing items were items I was looking forward to trying so I was a little disappointed in the box, especially after waiting over 5 weeks to get it. If there had never been a video telling me what to expect, I think I might have had different feelings. You know that feeling – anticipation of something only to have it not be as advertised. That said, I did get a different free bottle so I can’t complain to much.

Even though we started a registry with Baby List and were planning on using it as our exclusive registry, based on the above disadvantages, we ultimately decided it was better for the items we knew we would be purchasing on our own. I have mixed feelings about this particular site and registry. Depending on your family and your needs, then it could be a good option. The idea is great but I think it needs some improvement. As a knowledge resource site, its pretty awesome!

In my experience, I’d stick with Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby and if you need a third second, Target. Between the variety and readily available selection both in store and online, competitive pricing, readily available coupons combined with the registry rewards, you really can’t beat these options.

Note: These are my opinions based on my and my husband’s experiences. You may have different experiences and different opinions based on your personal experiences. I have not been compensated in any way for my review of these registries.

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