New Baby Gift Registry: Thoughtful Or Grabby?

It's been a while since my last pregnancy so even though I'm expecting my third child it's no wonder I feel a like a first-time mum all over again.

So much has changed since the last time I had cause to wear jeans with an elasticated waistband - and they haven't got any more chic in the past seven years, sadly. From government guidelines on alcohol consumption during pregnancy to the practice of throwing baby showers for expectant mothers, the modern world of the pregnant mum is almost unrecognisable to me.

But one particular new trend recently had me choking on my (decaf) cappuccino. Apparently it's de riguer for modern mums-to-be to organise a 'baby gift registry' with a favourite department store or online shop.

It's basically the same premise as couples who set up a wedding list to help friends and family figure out what to buy as a gift when the big day comes. Except somehow a baby gift registry seems so much more presumptuous and, dare I say, just a little bit grabby.

Our adoption of the transatlantic tradition of baby showers seems to be one reason why baby gift registry lists are growing in popularity in the UK. According to the Daily Mail, British women now spend £220 million attending baby showers each year, which amounts to an average spend of £50 per shower.


But isn't it crass and calculating to see your pregnancy as an opportunity to tap your friends and family for freebies?


Mum of two, Natalie, thinks so. "Setting up a baby gift list is almost like saying 'buy me something when you visit' but the choice to buy a gift for a new baby should be at the discretion of your friends and family - not something you force upon them," she says.

"Although I confess that at our 'shot gun wedding' we asked for John Lewis vouchers instead of wedding gifts, to enable us to buy all the baby gear we hadn't been expecting to need for a couple of years!"

"It's one thing to discuss what you'd like for your new arrival with close family members who might want to get something you really need, but drawing up a list for friends to buy from is definitely not OK," agrees mum of one, Isabel.

"You get given all the affordable stuff like toys and clothes without having to ask for them anyway, and the costly items like a cot or a push chair are too much to expect friends to fork out for."

But maybe there's something to be said for taking the pragmatic approach and letting your friends know which items your new baby will really need.

Why suffer piles of stuffed cuddly animals when you could give loved ones a discreet steer on the items you'll actually appreciate?


And in these days of economic gloom doesn't it make sense that people spend their hard-earned cash on something truly useful instead of something you just won't use?


Tiffany, a mum of three from the USA, thinks a baby gift list is a considerate, practical way of letting loved ones know which items you really need. "Everyone in the US set ups a gift registry for their first baby; it would be considered strange not to," she says. "It's common to register a list with a few different stores so that friends have multiple choices of where to buy."

Mum Naomi agrees that a gift list doesn't have to be pushy or presumptuous. With a 22-month-old son and another baby on the way, Naomi has compiled a gift registry for her impending arrival but wouldn't dream of circulating it to friends or family unless they explicitly asked for guidance on what to buy for the baby.

"I'm having another boy so I already have lots of the things people usually buy as baby gifts," Naomi explains. "So this time I decided to set up an Amazon wish list as my own personal shopping list, and I refer people to it if they ask what they can buy. I don't expect gifts but at least I have some ideas to pass on to friends who ask.

"At a friend's baby shower I found it really helpful to know what she actually needed, which saved me buying something she already had. Whereas when my first child was born we received about eight teddy-themed blankets, three of which were exactly the same!"

That's a sentiment shared by mum of two Rebekah. "Baby gift lists are a cultural norm here in Canada. I like buying new baby gifts for friends and it's even better if I can get something useful that they actually need from a registry list that they picked out," she explains.

"My friends threw me a baby shower for my first baby, and kitted us out with all sorts of useful stuff - bottles, blankets, dummies and push chair accessories - all the little things that soon add up when you have to buy them yourself, but so much more useful than 20 newborn outfits."

She adds: "But of course the most useful gift you can ever give a new parent is a homemade dinner (and dessert) lovingly delivered to their doorstep in the first few weeks after the baby's birth."

Well, quite. And that's not something you'll get from any gift list, no matter where you shop.

What do you think? Let us know...