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Skipping the Baby Registry: Yay or Nay?

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

I know this isn’t beauty advice I’m seeking but you always have the smart answers so I’ll try…

My husband and I just got married 3 months ago and in fact got pregnant on our honeymoon. Some friends and relatives are pressuring me to register for baby gifts. The problem is we are still writing thank you notes for hundreds of wedding registry gifts and I don’t want to seem greedy by asking for more stuff. Also, being Jewish, it is traditional for us not to have a pile of baby stuff in our house before the actual baby arrives. Is it OK not to have a baby registry? Since this is our first baby I wouldn’t even know what to put on there except the Dyson vacuum cleaner and silverware still waiting on our wedding registry (just kidding).


It is absolutely OK and acceptable and OK to not have a baby registry. I feel like I could pretty much end this column here, because seriously. It is just that OK .

Did I ever tell you guys that Jason and I didn’t have a wedding registry? We were super-young, obviously, and we did need about everything on the planet (between the two of us we had five dinner plates, four twin-sized sheet sets and two coffee makers). But immediately after the wedding we were 1) moving to a new apartment at Penn State, and then 2) moving to another apartment in Maryland four months later. An apartment we didn’t officially have yet, and thus knew nothing about, except that it was also going to be a temporary thing. (We ended up moving AGAIN six months later.)

We did all these moves by ourselves, with a two-door Honda Civic and the tiniest U-Haul you could rent, and honestly, it seemed stupid to register for a ton of stuff that we’d just have to pack up multiple times and lug to walk-up buildings. Why register for nice dishes when you KNOW a few of them will get broken? Why fill up a tiny kitchen full of appliances we’d never use? (I mean, we were COLLEGE STUDENTS. We needed a colander and a pot for macaroni and cheese, and a microwave for reheating all the free food I borrowed from the restaurant I worked at.)

So we didn’t register. We told people not to bother with gifts. (Secretly we were just hoping for some rent money, but obviously we never said that to anyone.) My mother threw me a shower and gave people ideas — if they asked — when they RSVP’d.

And sure, we got too much Corningware and a lot of crystal candlesticks and this one damn ugly serving plate shaped like a turkey. And we wrote thank-you notes and exchanged a few things and ended up lugging a box of crystal candlesticks to four apartments without ever opening it before finally donating it to the Salvation Army.

Jason has one relative who is apparently still a little bitter about the registry thing (since she bought us Corningware that we had to return since we got so much of it), but other than that? Nobody cares. Nobody remembers and we managed to be a functional human couple who bought our own pots and pans.

I think your reasons for skipping the baby registry are solid ones. I loved our baby registry, even though we really ended up with too much stuff and not really all the right stuff. So you can completely survive without one and will probably make better choices if you wait to see what your particular brand of baby requires.

(Honestly I think my dream job would be a baby registry consultant of some kind — because I cannot keep my mouth shut at the baby stores when I see pregnant women picking out the wrong/useless/unnecessary crap; it’s a freaking sickness of mine.)

If someone wants to throw you a baby shower later, you can always reconsider. There’s no law that says you must register by 12 weeks along or that you can’t register after the baby is born. Or just give the hostess a list of ideas that she can suggest IF PEOPLE ASK. (And I’ve known a few Jewish couples who simply keep all the gifts at the shower-giver’s house until the baby arrives.)

And baby registry or no baby registry: you’re gonna end up with way too many receiving blankets.

Don’t forget to check out and sign up for Amalah’s hysterical Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.


If you DO consider a baby registry, we recommend our online affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

Amazon Baby Registry 1

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Jenn

    November 12, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Good entry. I got married last week, and our families really pressured us to make a registry because they didn’t want to tell everyone that we secretly just wanted cash. (We’re in the opposite position: we have basically everything we could ever need.) So we made a registry with a small spattering of traditional registry items on it and then a whole lot of DVDs. Guess what? Most people gave us cash, and we got very few random things that will clutter our homes. Perhaps a bit manipulative, but it worked for us.
    For a baby registry, though… I don’t know. The things I would want but wouldn’t want to pay for probably wouldn’t get bought anyway (see: our desire for an under-cabinet can opener for our wedding–nobody’s going to buy anything that boring). And it seems like people are just going to buy you cutesy things no matter what. I think I agree with Amalah: let someone throw you a shower if they want, but don’t worry too much about it. (Our friends all live far away, so we’ll probably just shamelessly register when the time comes… not very soon.)
    And it’s good to know someone else is having a hard time finishing the thank yous for the wedding!

  • Isabel

    November 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

    I just wanted to agree with your blanket comment. We got way too many of them. (We recently donated a ton of them to Goodwill. Which made my eyes twitch. But it was time.)

  • Olivia

    November 12, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    I agree with Amalah. Of the baby showers I’ve gone to, the hostess just had a general list if a guest asked.
    My husband and I didn’t have a wedding registery because we technically had everything we needed and would be moving within the year. However, 2.5 years later I’m coveting a nice set of pans and knives. But I know even if I had registered for those things we may not have gotten them. And also? Am I the only one who feels realy weird about specifying gifts, especially more expensive gifts, in general? My family never made xmas gift lists, or made a habit of saying what we wanted for birthdays, so just the act of saying “I want X, pretty please” feels wrong.

  • cagey

    November 12, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    re: Wedding Registries – I was the opposite. When I got married, we had two houses between us and did not need anything. Yet, I was still pressured to register and I did register for a few things, all the while feeling like an Asshole. It turned out, my sister had Boardgame Bachelorette party for me where I ended up getting every imaginable boardgame out there. Which totally and utterly ROCKED because boardgames are useful. No?
    I think what is concerning me the most about the question is the potential guilt – meaning, the reader feels she should not register for baby gifts because she just had a wedding. I do not think she should feel guilty. Babies are different – no one expects you to already have baby equipment on hand.
    If someone offers to throw her a shower, I think she should register for a few items and just make them all lower-priced items. There is a way to register without looking like an greedy leech. Truly. Register for a few, important items and have them all be under $25 or so. Another alternative is this: if someone asks to throw a shower, ask for a Diaper shower.
    Realistically, people are going to want to buy the reader something for her new baby. If they cared enough to send a wedding gift, they will care enough to send a baby gift.
    Also, would like to totally 2nd Isabel’s comment. With my 2nd baby, we are STILL RECEIVING BLANKETS. Oh my god. Like, I just got another blanket in the mail this past weekend. No joke.

  • chiquita

    November 12, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Amalah, it would be helpful for you to list some of those things you see women buying that they shouldn’t. (as someone contemplating the baby registry)

  • kelly

    November 12, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Seconding chiquita, since I am in the same situation: Amalah, what shouldn’t I buy / register for when it comes to baby stuff?

  • Elizabeth

    November 12, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Oh my god, yesterday my husband had to drag me away from the people in Target who were registering for that huge travel system thingee instead of the MacLaren next to it. I swear I just wanted to shout “nooooo!” as I was being hauled away.
    Anyway. My best friend is very anti “stuff” and doesn’t want to register, so we’re throwing her a children’s book shower, and asking everyone to bring the baby their favorite books. We’ll do bookplates at the shower so people can put a message in the books and I think we’re going to have bookmarks as favors. IMHO you can never have too many books, even if you don’t want “stuff”.

  • Rebecca

    November 12, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    I am actually going through that right now. My fiance and I live together and our wedding is in April. Obviously we have everything we need to function on a day to day basis, so I am having a very hard time registering. I put new bedding on there, and new silverware/plates since that stuff was hand-me-downs, but we’re secretly hoping everyone just sends us cash so that we can redo our floors in the condo.

  • ethansmomma

    November 12, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    I understand not wanting to try to come up with a registry list when you have no clue what you may or may not use. I think most people will be fine with getting you a gift certificate or the old standby, cute baby clothes. The advantage of doing a registry is that you can set guidelines and limit the amount of certain items like receiving blankets. I actually ended up buying A LOT more receiving blankets because I didn’t get any of the little light flannel ones that I needed. I also needed a lot more burp rags and a lot less cute tiny outfits. People typically know the basics that you will need but a registry is good if you want specific things.

  • missbritt

    November 12, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    And dear God you do not NEED three different kinds of thermometers!!
    Ahem. Sorry.

  • leahkay

    November 12, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Registry or not, people will want to give you gifts. The way I figure, without the registry you’re likely to get more crap you don’t want or need; having a registry will let you control that situation, even if just a little. If you feel awkward about advertising the registry to people lest you seem greedy, why not have one in place so people can use it as a reference if they specifically ask for suggestions. I far prefer buying gifts from a registry because I can be sure they’re things the giftee wants and won’t look at, shrug, and then haul off to Goodwill.
    I also second Elizabeth’s book shower idea. I know two people who have done that and it works perfectly. You can never have too many books!

  • Elizabeth

    November 12, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    My husband and I didn’t register for wedding gifts. We had already been living together for a year, so we didn’t really need anything. I might have still liked to register, but my husband felt weird about it, so we didn’t. When people asked, we suggested they donate to charity instead. Some people really want to give gifts, and so we got some weird things that we totally didn’t need/want, but we also got some lovely things that people picked out, and that was lovely.
    Once we were having a baby, my husband still didn’t want to register, but I overruled him on that one. I did it on Amazon, so that I could register for children’s books and music as well as the traditional items. Most people didn’t shop from the registry, because they wanted to buy baby clothes (and really, who can blame them?). Others (who had kids) bought me better versions of things I’d registered for, knowing what things worked and what things didn’t. And my office pooled together to buy a couple of the bigger things off of our registry, which was very sweet and made me glad I’d registered. Having the registry doesn’t mean people have to shop for it, but if they are feeling lost or really want to buy you something that you think you’re going to need, it gives them an option. (See? It’s for the greater good!)

  • helenel

    November 12, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Registry – it’s a tad overwhelming walking into Babies R Us and having that huge list handed to you – that includes “wall borders”, etc. Give me a break. I agree with Amy – except for the basics, you don’t know what you need til you have the child. I have twins, and we could easily have done with just one crib for a very long time. The pack and play was indispensable, tho. And the swing. And the mini fridge from Sharper Image- we kept formula and bottles of water in there so we didn’t have to go downstairs in the middle of the night.
    But, also as said above, it helps the guests. They WANT to give you presents. Truly! It’s a blessed event, and it helps them feel part of it, at least that’s how I feel when I give a baby gift.
    My best friend threw my first baby shower – as book lovers (and I was a librarian) she gave me a book-themed shower, where, in addition to a gift, everyone brought their favorite kids’ book for the shower, and the cake was shaped like a book. I received some really lovely books that have endured for Lo these 3 years of my kids’ lives. It was wonderful and people really enjoyed thinking back to books they’d loved as children. It made the guests feel like their gifts were a bit more personal. I really like Elizabeth’s idea re: the bookplates! Wish I’d thought of it!

  • Jezer

    November 12, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Absolutely hell yeah.
    First of all, you don’t even know WHAT you need until the baby’s here. And then, you realize that all you *really* need are 1)diapers,
    2)boobs or bottles,
    3)some onesies,
    4)a couple of blankets,
    5)bibs (for the spitter-upper), and
    6) maaaaaybe a crib (of course, I was adamantly against co-sleeping, and now our 22-month old is still sleeping with us. But the crib and its expensive-as-all-get-out bedding still looks like new. Heh.

  • DB

    November 13, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    If you have friends and family that are super persistent about gifts, maybe you could offer a welcome baby shower. I wasn’t in any kind of shape for a party when I was dealing with a newborn but do have friends who said this worked for them. You could put people off for a few months and then hopefully get the things you actually need and will use. As far as what you absolutely need, the Baby Bargains book was a lifesaver for me. If you don’t want to do any kind of shower or registry, you could also start some kind of college savings plan — kind of boring but looking back I wish we’d done something like that.

  • SV

    May 13, 2014 at 3:52 am

    We registered for our wedding, even though I mostly wanted cash because I had just about everything. MAybe a third of our guests actually bought us gifts from the registry but most did their own thing. So we ended up with three or four sets of measuring cups, duplicates of things we will never use and had no idea how to return, I sold some of the duplicates in a yard sale than donated some, but we also got cool things I would have never thought to put on the list that I LOVE like my ninja. I recommend registering because many stores give you coupons and I got some free stuff for the baby simply for registering. And even if it is just for the 10 percent completion discount, it doesn’t hurt. I like to think of it as a checklist so that I know I will have what the baby needs when she comes even if most of it is more for my own benefit, but sometimes people surprise you. I registered for a mini kuerig for our wedding thinking I would buy it with gift cards. Someone graciously bought it for us! My husband uses it everyday!