Having a baby shower is one of the most enjoyable parts of pregnancy—who doesn’t love a party and getting lots of useful swag, all while being pampered by the people you care about the most? But baby showers aren’t just excuses to play silly games and eat yummy stuff with your friends and family: it’s an opportunity to stock up on valuable items that will prepare you and your home for the impending new addition to the family. Compiling a baby shower gift list, whether for a registry or for distribution amongs attendants, is the best way to ensure that you get the things you need and want. With that in mind, here is how to put together the best baby shower gift list.

If this is your first baby, a baby shower gift list is especially essential, to make sure you get all the basics. If it’s not your first baby, making a registry or gift list is also important, the let people know what you have need of. It will keep people from getting things you don’t need, and you can specify things that you specifically want. You don’t want to end up with a hundred receiving blankets and onesies or silver spoons when what you really need is a new car seat or breast pump.

There is also no specific etiquette about what to put on your baby shower gift list—if you want it, put it on there! Using an aggregator gift site that pulls from several different stores can make sure you get the items on your list in a way that is easy and convenient for your loved ones.

Here are some good, basic rules of thumb for assembling a baby shower gift list.

  • Before asking for specific brands or items, make sure to “road test” them first. For example, if you see a stroller you really like online or in a catalog, check it out in person first—who knows, you might not be able to lift or close it easily! Also, double check for safety recalls (www.recall.gov) and find out the return policy for any big-ticket items, to avoid future problems.
  • Be practical. No matter how cute something might be, remember what you will actually need. For example, gift certificates that can be used in the future for, say, diaper or formula purchases, can be life-savers, whereas a half-dozen newborn onesies that your baby will grow out of in a couple of weeks might not even get proper usage.
  • Be careful about certain products, such as lotions, diaper creams, and formula, that you might need to adjust in the future, depending on your baby’s needs and sensitivity. Also, newborn diapers will be outgrown rapidly, so it’s fine to ask for diapers in varying sizes, to accomodate growth. Again, gift certificates aren’t impersonal, they’re useful and practical!

Practical Stuff to Ask For

  •  Undershirts (aka onesies, in newborn and three-month sizes)
  • Infant car seat
  • Medical supplies (thermometer, medicine dropper, suction bulb, baby medicines)
  • Breast pump and other nursing accessories (like pillows, nipple cream), although you might want to purchase this yourself, due to its personal nature and your particular needs and preferences.
  • Formula (if you plan on bottle-feeding)
  • Bottles and nipples (even if you plan on breastfeeding, you’ll want someone to give your baby the occasional bottle so you can take a break!)
  • Diaper-rash cream, baby lotion, shampoo
  • Stroller
  • Play yard
  • Baby monitor
  • High chair
  • Stationary entertainer/Exersaucer
  • Swing
  • Adorable outfits, bibs, and burp cloths (the cuter the saying, the better!)
  • Receiving blankets
  • Diaper pail
  • Baby carrier or sling
  • Bouncy seat
  • Bottle warmer/bottle rack/bottle brush/insulated bottle bag
  • Bathtub, wash clothes, hooded towels
  • A chic diaper bag (which — get ready — will also double as your purse at least for the first year)
  • Mobiles
  • DVDs to keep you entertained (and awake) during those nighttime feedings
  • Babysitter/restaurant gift-certificates for a parents’ night out