A baby shower is a wonderful way to welcome the new addition to any family, and many cultures celebrate pregnancy and the birth of a baby with a baby shower. Although there may be differences among cultural traditions, a baby shower is generally a special time when friends and family members gather around you to give gifts, play baby shower games and exchange ideas about children and parenthood.
This article answers frequently asked questions about how to plan, host and have the best baby shower, etiquette do's and don'ts and more.
Who should host the baby shower?
In the past, it was recommended that only non-relatives plan a baby shower. It was feared that a sibling or parent throwing a party for a loved one might come off as greedy. Nowadays, it's become more common, and acceptable, for a sister or mother to plan and host the shower. And rightly so—who better to host a party for you than your excited family-in-waiting? It's also becoming more common for a gang of friends to host the baby shower as a group; after all, the more the merrier! The only person who should absolutely never have to host a shower? The expectant mother herself. After all, she deserves to have the best time of all as the guest of honor, and that's hard to do if she's involved in planning the party.
When should the baby shower be held?
Traditionally, baby showers are held some time during the last two months of your pregnancy. In some cases, cultural norms or religions—including Judaism—dictate that the shower be held after the baby is born.
Who should be invited?
The guest list can include those who are close to you. You'll probably want to have best friends there, neighbors, in-laws, co-workers, relatives, and the like. To be safe, take a look at your host's list before she sends out the baby shower invitations. That way, no one special will be overlooked. As for numbers, that all depends on the budget and the kind of space available.
How and when should guests be invited?
It's still best to issue a shower invite the old-fashioned way: written on paper and sent in the mail. Besides being a great keepsake for you, snazzy invitations announce the theme of the party. To give your guests time to respond, plan to send out baby shower invitations about four weeks in advance. Also ask to include information about where you've registered and if the guests need to bring anything additional.
Is it OK to invite a friend who has recently had a miscarriage?
It is important to be sensitive to her feelings. Send an invitation; whether she plans to attend is her call.
When is an appropriate RSVP date?
Your host should ask invitees to respond two weeks before the baby shower date. But when tallying the final numbers for food and drink, be sure to plan for those who RSVP late or who show up without any notice.
Should dad be invited?
For many, baby showers are reserved as a time for you to celebrate baby. But in some cultures, dad is expected to participate in the baby shower, too. If you'd like for dad to be involved, you might plan a couples baby shower, where you and dad are honored together.
Where and when should I register?
Plan to register at least one week before the invitations are mailed. You don't want one of your guests to set out shopping only to find that you haven't signed up. And baby registries are now as widespread as bridal registries. Chain stores and key retailers have complete registry services; family and friends who live far away have the best opportunity to select just what you want if you register online.
What about a baby shower at the office?
This is a perfectly acceptable plan, especially if you have close relationships with your co-workers, and feel comfortable with on-site festivities. But keep it low key: schedule it during lunch or at the end of the day when it won't interrupt the work too much. It's also best to have it in a private place, like a conference room or an outside location.
Is planning a shower for an adopted baby any different?
A baby shower is a wonderful way to celebrate adoption. But because adoptions don't adhere to a schedule, it's best to plan a shower after the parents bring the baby home—hold it about a month or two later. Your host might want to let your guests know that the child is adopted in order to avoid insensitive comments, however unintentional.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.