Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life. It's also exciting for everyone when a loved one is pregnant. Friends and family of the mother-to-be will want to gather around and celebrate the emerging family. A baby shower is a perfect way to welcome the mother-to-be into motherhood and celebrate the new baby.
What Is a Baby Shower?
A baby shower is a party for the soon-to-be mother where guests bring much-needed baby items. While it is a party, it has a dual purpose: one, to celebrate this important moment in the family, and two, to help prepare the new family with baby items. Before the baby shower, the soon-to-be mother registers with a store and picks out baby items she will need. Baby registry items can be small, like diapers and baby toys, or significant with items like a crib and stroller.
Traditional Baby Showers
Traditionally, a baby shower is thrown by a friend or family member to support the new mother. A close friend or family member may offer to host, or be asked to by the mom-to-be. The expectant mother never throws the celebration herself.
Historically, baby showers were usually afternoon affairs with only close female friends and relatives. The gathering of females to support birth is nothing new. Throughout history and across cultures, women would gather to support the pregnant woman before, during, and after the birth. When the infant mortality rate was high, women supported the birth and possibly the death of the baby or mother. As medicine and birthing practices improved and the mortality rate went down, the idea of celebratory baby-welcoming parties became popular.
HuffPost explains that the formal baby shower, originally called “stork showers,” was first mentioned by Emily Post in her 1937 book, Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. Originally an intimate affair of afternoon tea with close female friends and relatives, the baby showers of today are more open to interpretation. Baby showers can be formal or casual and include both men and women. Usually, it is up to the mother-to-be to choose how she feels most comfortable celebrating her baby.
Another relatively new take on the baby shower is a baby sprinkle. A baby sprinkle is for a mother’s pregnancy with a second, third, or fourth child. A sprinkle is more about a celebration as the mother probably already has many of the things she needs, like baby furniture and toys. Instead, a baby sprinkle may invite guests to give diapers in varying sizes or other practical gifts.
When You Should Have a Baby Shower
Baby showers are usually held toward the end of pregnancy when the risk of miscarriage or other health complications has passed. They are often held four to six weeks before the expected due date. This gives new parents enough time to use their baby shower gifts to decorate the baby’s room and plan accordingly. Things like washing onesies, assembling furniture, and returning unwanted gifts take time, and earlier in the third trimester gives expectant parents time to do those necessary chores.
In the case of twins or multiples, it is a good idea to plan the shower for even earlier. According to WebMD, twins and multiples can come as early as 34 weeks, as opposed to the normal 40 weeks. When planning a baby shower for twins or multiples, plan for the shower in the second trimester.
How to Plan a Baby Shower
While the mother-to-be should never have to plan her baby shower, she should be consulted about what type of baby shower she would prefer. Some women love a large celebration, while others prefer a casual, low-key one.
Who to Invite to a Baby Shower
The next step is to decide on the guest list. When planning for a baby shower, you will want to include not just friends and family, but co-workers and other people that are in the mother-to-be’s life. The mother-to-be must know who is invited, because there may be people that she prefers who are not invited.
Where to Have the Baby Shower
Baby showers can be thrown at home, restaurants, or other venues, depending on the size and type of party. In some cases, they may be thrown at the mother-to-be’s home.
What to Serve at a Baby Shower
Generally, baby shower hosts do not serve a full meal. Instead, food at a baby shower is typically light with appetizers, sweets, or other finger foods. Make sure to accommodate special dietary requests; ask guests when they RSVP to include if they have any dietary restrictions, for example, gluten- or dairy-free, to make sure that everyone has something yummy to eat.
Most baby showers include a cake. For drinks, simple beverages like tea, coffee, or juice are usually available. Alcohol is generally not at a baby shower since the mother-to-be is not drinking. That tradition has changed, though, and it depends on the preference of the host and the mother-to-be whether alcohol is present.
Fun Ideas for a Baby Shower
Baby showers sometimes have a theme, especially if the mother has a specific nursery theme or colors she has decided on for the baby’s things. The traditional blue for boys and pink for girls has been changing, and many new parents prefer neutral colors.
Baby showers are a social function for the guests to talk and connect with the mother-to-be and share in her excitement. Many baby showers include games or activities for the guests. Games like Guess Who, with guests guessing who the baby is in the pictures, and Baby Gift Bingo, where the guests play Bingo while the expectant mother opens gifts, are fun ways to involve guests in the party. Further, activities like decorating onesies or cards are perfect for creative and artsy guests.
Tips for Throwing the Best Baby Shower
- Plan the shower early so guests can save the date and have time to visit the baby registry.
- Register and make sure to include that information on the invitations.
- Make goodie bags for guests to thank them for coming. Include scented candles, chocolates, beauty products, or other small gifts.
- For expensive items on the registry, invite guests to go in on them with other guests to ensure the mom-to-be receives everything she needs.
Etiquette for Baby Shower Guests
Receiving an invitation to share a special time in someone's life is an honor. As a guest, you should make sure to help the host and the mother-to-be ensure the party is a success.
- Always RSVP.
- Include the gift receipt with the gift in case the mother-to-be needs to exchange it.
- Respect the host's request; whether the invitation states women only, no children, or no gifts, always follow the rules requested.
- If alcohol is available, stick to one or two drinks. Be responsible and do not over-imbibe.
- Avoid bringing an uninvited friend along. The guest list is special, and the food, drinks, and activities are for a specified amount of guests.
- Only share positive experiences of pregnancy and birth. Expectant mothers are nervous enough and do not need to hear about the horrible thing that happened to someone else during pregnancy.
Baby showers in the past were a traditional affair with many rules of etiquette, but today the rules aren’t strict. The most important thing is the mother-to-be gets the opportunity to be surrounded by loved ones to celebrate her and the new baby. Baby showers should be joyful, fun, and stress-free for everyone.