San Diego

Universal Registry Gaining Popularity Among Millennial Mothers

The former Amazon engineer did what all moms do and she solved the problem, launching the company two weeks before the birth of her first son.

She may not know it yet, but when she’s born in September, Baby Kennedy Ann Tucker will have a nursery full of very specific and well-researched necessities for her first few months here in San Diego.

Her mom’s baby wish list includes a Petunia Picklebottom “Winnie the Pooh” diaper bag, baby wraps from San Diego-based company Solly Baby, and a crib and changing table picked out with plenty of prenatal love by both her young mom and dad. 

New mom 26-year-old Kayla Tucker is using an Oakland-based registry service Babylist, which uniquely allows parents-to-be to create wish lists from as many different stores as they prefer.

“One of the things that I really like that I have on my registry is this really cute Petunia Picklebottom ‘Winnie the Pooh’ diaper bag. I really love that. It’s so cute,” says Tucker. (Hint, hint, Tucker’s friends and coworkers.) “I couldn’t find that on any other registries or websites.”

Gift givers just go to the one location to browse the registry.

And here’s the really cool part: Busy-moms-to-be can request more than just baby stuff. Expectant parents can use the site to ask family and friends for help starting a life insurance account for the baby or for subscriptions to services like dog-walking or cloth diaper laundering during those first few months of parenthood.

Babylist Spokeswoman Rebecca Silliman said many pregnant moms are asking for donations to non-profits.

Founded in 2011, owner and CEO Natalie Gordon devised and launched Babylist during her first pregnancy when she realized there was not a seamless way to ask family and friends for help with, for example, dog walking, rather than products, Silliman said.

A former Amazon engineer, Gordon did what all moms do and she solved the problem, launching the company two weeks before the birth of her first son.

It’s now the third largest baby registry in the U.S.

With Babies R Us going out of business, Babylist is trying to fill the gap by allowing user-generated reviews of products like strollers and breast pumps.

“People just don’t have a dedicated baby store in their immediate vicinity anymore,” said spokeswoman Silliman. “And so that’s a whole other challenge for new moms. With Babylist, you can see exactly how does this thing close, do other moms think the stroller is easy to use and how much space does it take up? Because you can’t visit the store and try everything out anymore.”

About 50,000 people a month register on Babylist, according to the company. This year, about $200 million worth of gifts will be given from its registries with the average registry requesting items from 14 different retailers.

Tucker, an admissions administrator at a private school in La Jolla, is what some marketers might identify as your typical millennial shopper. She knows exactly what she wants and it isn’t always about the product, but more about the experience.

“Sometimes Amazon is hit or miss,” Tucker said. “Sometimes they have stuff on it and sometimes they don’t. So that’s one of the reasons why I chose Babylist because I was able to choose items from different more personal websites, rather than just having to choose from the inventory that Target or Buy Buy Baby has available. Instead, I get to choose other more personalized things.”

Tucker, whose baby shower is scheduled for this weekend, said as most shopping moves online, the consumer has lost the ability to touch and try an item out before buying it in store. But, she said, what they’ve gained is this whole online community of other mothers willing to share their experiences about products.

“The way things are moving to a more technology-based shopping is good because people are constantly uploading videos about 'what worked for my baby and what didn’t,'” she said. “I’ve been using that a lot to get other people’s insights.”

And, she said, maybe some of those motherly insights stretch beyond just the products.

Like this piece of unsolicited advice: No matter how worn it gets, never throw that baby wrap away because in 15 years, you might not remember the brand, but you will miss how it smelled just like your baby.

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