Baby Shower Etiquette

Baby Shower Etiquette

Bookmark and Share

Learn the answers to common baby shower questions, such as who gives the party, who should be invited, and are showers given for 2nd or 3rd children. Just click on a question below to read the answer:

  1. Who Gives the Baby Shower?
  2. Is a Shower Given for Second or Third Children?
  3. When Should You Have the Shower?
  4. How Long Should the Shower Last, and What’s a Good Time of Day to Have It?
  5. Whom Should You Invite?
  6. Where Should the Shower Be Held?
  7. When Should Invitations Be Sent?
  8. What Kinds of Gifts Are Given?
  9. What Is Done at a Traditional Baby Shower?
  10. Are Games Necessary?
  11. Should Shower Favors Be Given to the Guests?

Who Gives the Baby Shower?

Baby showers are typically hosted by a good friend of the mom-to-be. It is now also common for a mom-to-be’s family to throw her a shower, even though this was considered inappropriate in the past.
Is a Shower Given for Second or Third Children?

Traditionally, each mother only receives one baby shower. However, close friends often get together to give a second-time mom a few keepsakes, diapers and other essentials, and/or clothes for a different gender child. Also, if a second-time mother is expecting multiples or is financially needy, another shower may be very much appreciated.
When Should You Have the Shower?

A shower is traditionally held after the sixth month of pregnancy, usually 1 – 3 months before the due date. If the shower is for someone having multiples, make sure it’s at least 2 months before the due date since multiples tend to arrive early!

Some people prefer to have their shower after their baby is born so that everyone can meet the baby. However, if you do it this way, you will need to be respectful of the mother’s energy level and the baby’s schedule.

Adopted children should be welcomed as warmly as any other child, and a shower is great way to do this. Or, with older adopted children, it may be nice to have a welcoming party similar to a birthday party. Either way, it’s important to ensure that the adoption is final before selecting a date for the party. In fact, it might be best to allow at least several weeks for the new family to get adjusted before having a shower or welcoming party.
How Long Should the Shower Last, and What’s a Good Time of Day to Have It?

Two hours should be sufficient, and 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. is an ideal time of day unless you plan to serve lunch. The party may wind down early, but it’s more likely that it will continue on as guests chat together.
Whom Should You Invite?

A typical baby shower guest list includes 6 – 25 close friends and family members of both the mom- and dad-to-be. Unless the shower is a surprise, ask the mom-to-be whom she would like to invite. If it is a surprise, ask the dad-to-be to provide you with the names, phone numbers and addresses of close friends and family members who he thinks should be invited. Either way, if the guest list is too long, consider having two showers–one for family and one for friends.

Special Concerns: Infertility and miscarriages can be emotionally painful for many women. If you are inviting a guest who is having a difficult time conceiving, consider calling her before sending an invitation. Just let her know that you’d like her to be there, then let her make the decision on her own and without pressure.
Where Should the Shower Be Held?

Usually a hostess will hold the shower in her home, but it can also be held in a restaurant, tearoom, community recreation center, church social hall, or anywhere else that can accommodate the number of guests attending.
When Should Invitations Be Sent?

Invitations should be mailed 4 – 6 weeks before the shower and should include an RSVP date that’s 2 weeks prior to the party.
What Kind of Gifts Are Given?

As the hostess, you are responsible for guiding the guests to presents that will be both needed and appreciated. If possible, you should sit with the mom-to-be and make a list together so that you are prepared for this responsibility. Things to discuss include:

  1. whether or not she knows the gender of the baby;
  2. the style of the nursery;
  3. if she plans to breast feed and/or if she wants a breast pump;
  4. if she’ll be using cloth or disposable diapers; and,
  5. if she has purchased any clothing, equipment (e.g. a stroller, car seat, etc.) or other necessities yet.

If she hasn’t already done so, suggest that she register at one or two baby stores, like Babies ‘R’ Us. Then, consider sending guests the mother-to-be’s wish list along with the names of any stores at which she is registered.

Occasionally, people host theme showers, such as “nursery items,” “co-ed shower,” “for the outdoor baby,” or “what little boys are made of.” Themes like these lend themselves to specific gifts, such as equipment for the nursery, a baby backpack, or gender-specific clothes and toys.
What Is Done at a Traditional Shower?

Showers can be in almost any format, but we suggest the following agenda:

  1. Greet guests as they arrive, and make sure everyone is introduced.
  2. Serve appetizers and drinks, such as crudites and punch.
  3. If you are planned for games, play a few early on to help everyone get acquainted.
  4. If you prepared a meal, serve it after everyone has had a chance to mingle and get to know each other.
  5. Serve cake, coffee and/or punch while the gifts are being opened.
  6. Allow a little more time for guests to chat and then leave as they are ready.
  7. If giving a hostess gift, hand it to the guests as they leave.

Please see our Baby Shower Planning Guide for more information on throwing a baby shower.
Are Games Necessary?

Games are not a necessity for a fun shower. In fact, many mothers feel more comfortable without them. It really depends on the personality of the mom-to-be and the intimacy of the guests. If the guests do not know each other very well, games may be a good way to break the ice. However, it’s best to ask the mom-to-be what she would prefer if you’re uncertain.
Should Shower Favors Be Given to the Guests?

Hostess gifts are nice but, not required. You might check with other women to find out if it is customary in your area.

If you decide to give out a hostess gift but don’t know what to give, consider these ideas:

  • Flowering Plants in Small Pots
  • Decorative Soaps
  • Small Packages of Bath Salts or Body Wash
  • Nice Chocolates or Other Candy
  • Small Packages of Cookies
  • Floral-Scented Sachets
  • Baby-Themed Candles