Best Baby Registry? Return Policy, Completion Discount Comparison (Updated)

Updated details, added new stores, and added our own experience. You’re gonna have a baby! Part of the whirlwind is deciding where to start your baby registry. Similar to wedding registries, you go to the store, pick up a bar code scanner, and simply zap everything you want to put onto your registry. They usually provide you a checklist so you don’t forget anything. You can also add and remove items on registry online, and track what items were bought.

Here are the results of my research after scouring the respective sites and reading various baby forums, comparing factors including selection, price, customer service, return policies, and completion discounts:

Babies R Us

  • Pros: Large selection, registry works both in-store and online. Registry Rewards program where you get points when other people buy from your registry. You can return items to a physical store up to a year after arrival date, with certain restrictions (see below). In-store items on registry can be returned without receipt. Works with Shoprunner.
  • Cons: Prices tend to be higher in general. Some items are online-only, and thus not available in stores. Online-only items can be returned to a physical store for store credit, but if they are mailed back then the refund credit goes to the original purchaser, not you. Also, such items require a gift receipt or online packing slip.

Completion Discount: Physical coupon arrives 6-8 weeks before stated arrival date. They mail you a 10% off coupon good for a one-time purchase (technically valid for one calendar day) that can include some or all of the remaining items on your registry, with some restrictions:

The completion offer is not valid on diapers, formula, furniture, “R”US Gift Cards, Special Orders, Buyer Protection Plan, Video Game Hardware, Kiddie Kandids and Motherhood Maternity merchandise. It is not valid on prior purchases.

Amazon.com Baby Registry

  • Pros: Large selection, online-only. Competitive prices in general, plus no sales tax in many areas for now. Return policy offers a free prepaid return mailing label if you return the item in new and unopened condition within a year from date of delivery. You will get a gift certificate with the value (purchaser will not be notified). Also offers universal registry features if you want.
  • Cons: Can’t return things to a physical store. For easy returns, items must be “sold by Amazon.com” and not a third-party seller. Otherwise, you are subject to the return policy of that specific seller. Of course, you probably didn’t buy the items so you have no control over this.

Completion Discount: You become eligible 30 days prior to stated arrival date, receiving 10% off a one-time order up to $5,000 worth of good from remaining items on registry. If you are an Amazon Mom member with Prime, you’ll get a 15% off completion discount instead. Applies only to items sold by Amazon.com, and only items that are deemed baby-related by Amazon are allowed.

Target Baby Registry

  • Pros: Convenient for gift givers, lots of stores nationwide. Competitive prices in general. You can return or exchange any item on your registry in-store, with or without receipt. Will be easier to use up Target gift cards since they sell everything from toothpaste to furniture.
  • Cons. In-store selection is more limited and varies by location.

Completion Discount: Physical coupon sent to you, activates after due date. Good for 10% off all remaining items either in-store or online, you can use it both online and offline as long as it’s the same day. (Some people report that the 10% coupon works on all items in that one purchase at Target, but I can’t confirm.)

Buy Buy Baby

  • Pros: Very large selection, registry works both in-store and online. You can all return items to a physical store, even without receipt, for store credit. As this is the baby branch of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, you can use BBB 20% off coupons (sign-up online for mailing list to get coupons regularly). Overall better reviews from mommy forums regarding customer service.
  • Cons: Limited store locations. Prices may be higher on average. However, Buy Buy Baby also does price-matching to online stores like Amazon (see below).

Do you price match items I find advertised for less at another website/retail store?
We will gladly match our direct competitors’ prices on identical items. Please call us at 1-800-436-3048 so a Customer Service Representative can assist you. Exceptions may apply.

Completion Discount: Valid after due date. 10% off all remaining items, you will receive both a physical coupon in the mail and a coupon code via e-mail, so make sure both are accurate. (Some people report that the 10% coupon works on all items, not just remaining items in registry. May vary by each store policy, similar to the acceptance of expired 20% off coupons.)

The Rest

Here are some other baby registry alternatives:

Walmart Baby Registry was very basic. There is no special registry return policy, it’s just their standard gift return policy which means you’ll need a gift receipt. Without a gift receipt, you’ll be limited to a certain number of returns and be required to submit your driver’s license. There is no completion discount. Still, if you do most of your other shopping at Wal-mart as opposed to Target, it’s probably convenient to register here and be able to use any store credits or get gift cards from Wal-mart.

TheBump has a universal-style registry that lets you include items from Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, and several smaller retailers. I didn’t really want to deal with gifts coming from that many different retailers, all with their own unique return policies.

Wishpot is another universal registry that allows to add any item from any store online, and then people can “reserve” that item to give to you. A price comparison engine helps gift givers see where the item is the cheapest. Again, this method makes it difficult to return items as people may buy them from online stores that require you to arrange and pay for return shipping or have a gift receipt, or stores that you don’t have near you. It seems more focused on making things easier for the gift giver than the gift recipient.

BabyLi.st is another universal baby registry option. You can add items from any retailer (even sites like Etsy.com) or non-stuff like college tuition, dog-walking, or baby sitting hours. Again, this method makes it potentially difficult to return items but it appears that you can also choose the retailer you want it from (whether people will actually buy it from there is a separate question). They recently announced a 10% completion discount good at four stores: Diapers.com, Land of Nod, The Honest Company, and Giggle.

Our Baby Registry Experience

In the end, we decided to register at Babies R Us and the Amazon.com Baby Registry. We would have chosen Buy Buy Baby over Babies R Us, but there was no BBB near us. Babies R Us will work best for friends and family that prefer to browse and then buy something in a physical store. Amazon is more convenient for people that want to ship us something directly, but still has a good return policy for the most part. In the end, we were happy with the results. We used the completion discount from both Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond without issue, but definitely bought more stuff from Amazon. We did return some duplicate things to Bed Bath and Beyond instead of mailing it back to Amazon, and it took us nearly a year to spend all the credit (mostly because we were too lazy to drive back out to the store and we tend to buy a lot of baby stuff used).

We decided to leave out Target for the sake of simplicity and did not regret it, although we have since bought lots of gifts for other expecting parents from Target.

Comments

  1. We used Babies R Us and Target, but definitely used Amazon to finish off what we needed. One big thing to remember, it’s easy to scan things when you aren’t actually buying them. We did some research and really focused on what we needed, limiting the purchasing options for our friends and relatives to useful things. That cute lamp with the monkey on it that matches the bedding (at $50) isn’t needed, as much as BRU wants you to think so!

  2. David S says:

    We went with Baby R Us and Target, I was really disapointed with Baby R Us when the return policy wasn’t what we were told when we registered. Because of that we haven’t been back in just over 2 years and don’t plan on it anytime soon. I actually tell our friends not to register there because of that.

    Good luck to you and the Mrs.

  3. You left out Craigslist. Not to be snarky, but it is amazing the number of good quality (and sometimes still in the box) items for babies and infants you will find on Craigslist if you live in a large-enough metro. We certainly did (buying and then re-selling).

    The thing is, with new babies – especially if the first born – people overbuy for their own as well as gifts. Some of the big ticket items (cribs, high chairs, etc.) get high use, but for a limited time before outgrown or no longer necessary. Buy it on Craigslist, grow through it and put it back on Craigslist. I’d love to see a study tracking this stuff through a community with Craigslist.

    And yard sales, especially for clothes. The amount clothing we bought for our daughter with tags still attached at 1/10th the retail price still makes me laugh. These are babies. They don’t care about the latest fashions (and if someone in your life does care about the baby’s fashion, there are bigger issues in your family).

  4. agree with DK that you should leave the options open for family and friends. I registered at Babies R us given the large variety available…. and given that I was a first time parents, I figured I should go to the pro. I didn’t find their return all that easy especially without receipts (it’s certainly not “hassle-free”). I now almost never shop at BRU and usually just go to Target for whatever I need. If I were to do it again, I’d pick Target and amazon.com.

    Here are some more of my experience (although not so much on the registry but hope you find them useful anyway).

    - most people are going to buy you clothes because it’s so much more fun to shop for clothes than, say, a changing pad…. and a lot of them won’t have gift receipts. This also means there will definitely be a lot of stuff left on the registry after the baby shower.

    - people will go crazing buying stuff for your baby (we received several thousands worth of gifts). Be grateful whatever you received, even if they are not on the registry, don’t come with gift receipts etc…

    - register items with variety of price point. While grandpa is happy to pay for a $500 stroller, not all of your colleagues and friends want to spend that much.

    - I had some friends who will shop elsewhere to buy the item that I wanted but cheaper than where I registered (particularly those who are buying the more expensive items on the list). So registry was really just letting them know what stuff you wanted. I’d say baby registry is really for those who doesn’t know a whole lot about baby but wanted to get you something.

    - I waited too long to return stuff with my first kid since I didn’t really know what I needed and what I don’t so I simply kept everything thinking that I’ll just return them when I get to it. Many stores refuse returns after 6 months (e.g. Babies R Us, Macy’s). It’s possible to return without receipts but they are going to give you the lowest possible price. So don’t wait too long on clothing (e.g. if your baby is going to be born in the fall, the summer items are probably at clearance by the time the baby is born… just remember to factor them into consideration particularly if you don’t have receipts)

    - You will definitely receive stuff that you can’t use (e.g. I received 3-6 months short sleeves clothes and it was the middle of winter when my kid was 3-6 months). If you could identify those gifts, return/exchange ASAP!

    - even if you are going to have a second child, I’d still recommend that you return whatever not used ASAP. I certainly waited too long and now I have a whole suitcase full of brand new baby clothes that I cannot return.

    - register items with variety of price point. While grandpa is happy to pay for a $500 stroller, I don’t think all of your colleagues and friends want to spend that much.

    Doesn’t matter how much homework you do, you will certainly end up registering for stuff that you thought you needed (but didn’t end up using/needing) and also have stuff that you missed which you need to go get and pay full retail price. Everyone does it. Don’t worry, just enjoy!!

  5. This is an excellent summary of the major baby registries.

    Additional notes (from our experience):
    Buy Buy Baby had a much better baby registry gifts than Babies R Us
    Buy Buy Baby also accepts Bed Bath and Beyond coupons (it’s the same company).

    I think Ron has the right idea about craigslist and buying used items for
    babies (they are babies, after all).

    A registry does make it easier for other people to purchase something for you as a gift. It takes the “will they like it or not and return it anyway” aspect out. It also makes it easier for group purchases (office pool, etc.)

    It also gives you an idea of what parents like in terms of style, preferences, what they might need, etc. Example: parents probably won’t put a crib on if they already have one. Same with clothes, bottles, and the millions of other accessories that come with babies.

    However, if you notice they choose a lot of a brand or color, that gives you a clue to their preferences.

    Finally, not all folks want used stuff. Different strokes for different folks.

    Personally, we took every used thing we could get our grubby hands on and its been worth it.

  6. We registered at Buy Buy Baby, and then Babies R Us for some bigger ticket items that we only sent to family. We loved Buy Buy Babies great customer service and return policy. No receipt needed! Here, each of them honors the other’s coupons, so you can use Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath and Beyond coupons at Babies R Us and vice versa, even on big ticket items.

  7. I appreciate the baby-related finance articles. Although not relevant for everyone, but for those with children, they are a huge aspect of household finance.

  8. We’re definitely buying a lot of things from Craigslist, in fact picking up some stuff today actually. But this is for gift registries, which is a system that has lots of built-in inefficiencies since traditionally/culturally most people just don’t give cash. Just trying to minimize the inefficiencies. :)

  9. I’d vote for Target. Prices are cheaper than Babies R Us, but selection is almost as good. Gift cards for Costco and Walmart are great as well.

  10. We used Amazon because of their 365 day return policy. We returned almost 1/2 of the registered items because we either found them on craigslist for a lower price OR we were convinced to get them but then realized that we didn’t need them.

  11. Another hint is to put your due date a month before the baby arrives so that you get the 10% off coupons sooner.

  12. We did Amazon and Target. Target has almost the same stuff as BRU and the prices are cheaper. Most people ordered large items from Amazon for the free shipping and it’s also cheaper than BRU. Had no problem returning things to Amazon. Also, when registering think beyond the baby stage, you get 10% off everything on your registry so stock up for the first year and beyond.

  13. Mihir Gandhi says:

    Hi Jonathan.

    I am in a similar boat

  14. Hi Jonathan.

    I am in a similar boat as you. My wife is expecting in August. I was wondering which online discussions forum did you find particularly useful. As you may have already found out by now, baby shopping is confusing since there is tons of marketing on non-essential stuff and it bcomes very difficult o know exactly what to buy, how much to buy, and when to buy. If you can share some forums you found useful, i will greatly appreciate it.

  15. Rosalie says:

    I can’t speak to baby registries but we had a horrible experience trying to return items to Target from our wedding registry. Gift receipts were necessary and as you can imagine often not given with the gifts.

  16. Never register at Target! I just spent two trips and an hour and 20 minutes on the phone with gift registry (mostly holding) trying to return a baby item that was on ON MY REGISTRY. The person who bought the item did not scan it off my registry, so it wasn’t in the oh so important Purchase Log. The item was $89.99 and they have a $70 limit without a receipt. All they would offer me was a in store exchange in the same department for $70.00. They could not even offer me a $70 gift card. I read that Target allowed returns up to $250 against your registry. Their response to this was that not enough had been purchased off my registry to return. After over an hour on the phone with Gift Registry the service worker asked me if I could just ask the purchaser for the receipt. That was her solution for me. My phone battery died before she could give me more of her insightful solutions. Im so glad most people have bought me things off my Amazon registry. It has been really easy and great.

  17. Stephanie says:

    I wanted to comment on Babies r Us. I had to buy for two baby showers. I had a coupon that indicated I could get a $10 gift card if I bought $75 of merchandise. Even though I spent over $75! I was told at the register that I had to buy $75 FROM EACH registry even the coupon didn’t indicated that….this bull sh%*t!

  18. I don’t know why anyone would register with babies r us. Their site experience is AWFUL, their prices are at least 20% higher than amazon, they say they match prices, but you have to fight for it, their service sucks, the ONLY benefit i see is that you can physically touch things, but you can do that and register elsewhere. I absolutely hated my experience with them and ended up buying everything on amazon.com.

    Amazon.com has the best prices, excellent service, they go above and beyond to please their customers, they give you 10% completion discount, they have universal registry that allows you to add products from other sites, they give you an option to mark items ‘received’ even if you didn’t buy from them and it’s so much easier to shop on their site and get the product info. I honestly couldn’t be happier with my registry on amazon.com.

  19. Baby Chor says:

    Anyone use diapers.com??

  20. Target has the absolute WORST registry system ever. I love Target — shop there all the time — but they outsource their registry process — the company appears to be based in Nicaragua and the service is HORRIBLE.

    I called the customer service line 6 times in a row trying to get help and no one could help. Every time I tried to get transferred to a supervisor they gave me a VERY hard time, put me on hold and then the call disconnected.

    Here were the basic problems:

    1. They kept asking me for the registry number but could not tell me where to find it other than to say “They gave it to me in the store when I created the registry” – no matter how many times I said — I didn’t create the registry in the store — they kept repeating that it was the number they gave me in the store.

    2. Their call center is in Nicaragua — It is impossible to get a supervisor on the phone or talk to anyone in the US. Which would be fine if they could help, but they can’t. Everytime I asked for a supervisor I was told the supervisors wouldn’t be able to do anything for me that they couldn’t do. There was no reason for me to speak to a supervisor. After insisting — I got put on hold for 10 minutes and then the call got disconnected — this happened with 6 different agents until I finally got someone who transferred me to customer service in Minnesota — that person was not a registry person and could not access my registry, but they were very nice and sympathetic.

    3. There is no way to get a “Thank you list” or find out who bought you what — packages kept arriving on my doorstep with my name as the ship to and bill to and no indication of who bought them. The helpful customer service reps said this is because people “did it wrong” when they purchased the items… I can’t imagine thought that ALL OF THEM did it wrong — I have highly educated friends — if they ALL did it wrong then clearly the system is not that clear. There is no “print the thank you list feature” even if people did it right.

    4. You aren’t supposed to be charged shipping on orders over $50 but many of the folks who purchased from my registry said they were charged shipping — calling the call center in Nicaragua to get the delivery fee reversed was a frustrating process for them also.

    5. The last rep I spoke to (of 6) was the kindest and most helpful, but he said he couldn’t even find my registry after 35 minutes on the phone… even though I can see it online right in front of me.

    6. To find out who sent me what I had to read the order number on each package to the customer service agent. Three of the packages had numbers they couldn’t find anywhere in their system — even though they shipped them to my house they couldnt figure out who sent them.

    7. When people purchased items off the registry either online or in the store it didn’t update that they bought the item so I got 2 and 3 of many items. According to the agents this is because after they bought the item they didn’t manually log it to the registry — clearly they ALL did this wrong too… In some cases half an order was logged and the other half wasn’t??? Seems to me that when you buy the item by clicking on the registry the registry should auto update.

    8. With no log of items I have no way of knowing if something didn’t arrive that should have.

    9. I got a carseat in the mail today which was chipped and had no packaging slip and therefore no ID number. The agent said without the packaging slip I can’t return it even though it is defective — there is no way to get a duplicate packaging slip. I can’t imagine this is actually true.

    10. I got some items in the mail that when I read the order number to the agent they told me that order number didn’t exist. Sigh.

    I recommend using a different registry service until Target stops outsourcing their registry system.

  21. Serina T. says:

    We ended up registering at Target and Babys R’Us because we wanted our friends and family to have the convenience of buying stuff in a store if they wanted as well as buying it online. Plus I thought it’d be easier to return stuff in the store than having to ship it back.

    In hindsight though, I should’ve just picked either Target or Babys R’Us and Amazon. Amazon ended up having the cheapest prices most of the time and customer service is really good. I ended up creating a third registry on Amazon after my baby shower and buying the items I still needed from there. Also with their new Amazon Mom program, the registry completion discount is actually 15%.

    I liked Buy Buy Baby but there were no store locations close to us so that was kind of the deal breaker for me.

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