Most people are familiar with wedding registries, but when a woman is preparing for a baby, she also has a long list of necessities, which are often expensive. Enter the baby registry. Choosing a baby shower gift from your friend's registry can lighten her load financially, and it's a token of your love for her and excitement for her new addition. Plus, you'll know that whatever you choose is wanted by the recipient. Retail stores make accessing baby registries as easy as possible, so the hardest part is choosing among all of the options.
Find out where the mother or couple is registered. Check the invitation to her baby shower, if you have one, since the store name is often included. Ask around among her close friends or family members; etiquette dictates this is preferable to asking her directly. Another option is to search registries at major stores that carry baby items. Visit the websites for stores like Babies "R" Us, Buy Buy Baby, Amazon and Target, click on "registries" and search under her name.
Visit the store in person if you're going to hand-deliver the gift to your friend. Ask a clerk to print you a copy of the registry, or look for a kiosk that allows you to print it out yourself.
Read over the list, looking for items that both suit your budget and are available in the store. Look for words like "still needs" or "fulfilled." Avoid any items marked as "fulfilled," since other people have already bought these gifts. Look for a store aisle number next to each item you're considering buying so that you can find it in the store, or ask a sales associate to help you.
Locate each item that you want to purchase. Compare the item's bar code number to the number on the registry to be sure you have the exact item the parents-to-be have registered for.
Buy an item, or items, that you think will be especially useful for the new parents. If you have children yourself, choose something that was important to you when they were babies. Present the registry list to the cashier when making your purchase so that she can mark the items as "fulfilled." Ask for a gift receipt to include with the package.
Wrap your gift -- don't forget to include the gift receipt -- and deliver it to your friend, or ship it if she doesn't live locally. If you plan to ship the gift, you may want to order it online to avoid a trip to the post office. Check the registry; it should include the address where she'd like any gifts shipped. Don't forget to include a card so she knows who the fabulous baby gift is from.
While etiquette allows wedding guests a year after the event to send a gift, the same doesn't apply for growing babies. Buy a gift either before the mother's due date, or as soon after the birth as possible.
Some of the most important baby items, like a durable stroller, are pricey. Consider teaming up with other friends to share the cost of a major gift.