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Ready, set, register!

Step one: Make a list

You’re itching to wield the registry wand. But before you hit the shelves you should start with a checklist. There are lots of reputable baby gear book or web sites that can help you list out what and how many of everything you’ll need. Always be a little skeptical of any registry list supplied by a store itself.

Step two: Do your research

An alarming number of baby products, including cribs, crib bumpers, quilts, infant slings and bath seats have been associated with serious baby accidents but are still sold anyway. You want to make sure your list is only safe stuff that you really need. The Web site for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) is a good place to become familiar with baby product risks.

Step three: Field test

Don’t be shy about doing some hands-on field-testing for big-ticket items like your baby’s crib, stroller, high chair and car seat. Go to a store that lets you get hands-on and “test drive” models, buckling the buckles, taking high chair trays off or folding and unfolding the strollers. Remember, if a buckle is annoying or difficult in the store, you’re going to face that same problem a thousand times when you’re using it with your baby.

Step three: Edit down to your essentials

Here’s another money and space-saving tip: don’t register for too much of the fun stuff. Sure, the dress-up outfits, toys and novelty pacifiers are adorable, and if there’s something you’re absolutely dying for, put it on the list. But it’s also fun to let your friends and family surprise you with that cute-and-yet-totally-impractical stuff. Keeping a short and simple list will help your friends and family focused on what you truly need to keep your bases covered when the baby is born.

Step four: Exchange

If you do get a dozen baby monitors, save those gift slips and don’t hesitate to exchange extras for what you’re lacking. You can also get gift cards to use later — they will come in handy as your baby grows older to buy bigger sized baby clothes or even diapers and wipes.

Sandy and Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Best Baby Gear. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble

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