Practical advice for new parents

Baby Showers

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There are very few things in life that are more joyous than planning for the birth of a new baby. Baby showers give expectant mothers, and sometimes fathers-to-be, the opportunity to share this memorable time with friends and family.  And just as importantly, babies need lots of clothing, equipment, and toys, so shower gifts can help ease the financial strain associated with a new addition to the family. A baby shower also offers a wonderful chance to socialize, share child-rearing tips, play games, and enjoy party food and refreshments.

Baby showers came into favor in the 1800’s and tea parties were the fashionable theme of the time. Guests would bring practical items or homemade gifts to the expectant mother, and the event was always thrown by a non-family member.

Thankfully, there is much more creativity in modern baby showers. These days, family members, as well as friends throw showers. Splitting the hosting duty among two or more friends or family members is a smart way to make the numerous expenses and responsibilities more manageable.

Because men are much more involved in the whole pregnancy and birth experience, they are also increasingly being included in on the festivities. The predictable bland shower is a thing of the past. Whether a casual lunch at a favorite restaurant, a down-home coed barbecue with silly games, or an elegant brunch at a country club, the possibilities are endless. A shower can be as small as an after-work get-together for a few close friends or as extravagant as a soiree for 50 or more. The best shower hosts create a theme that best reflects the personality and lifestyle of the mother-to-be while keeping in mind the comfort and enjoyment of all of the guests. Personalized details and creativity can go a long way to turn a ho-hum event into a highly memorable celebration of life.

Most baby showers are held on weekends and last from two to four hours. They can be planned for late morning, afternoon, or early evening depending on the type of celebration. Ideally, a shower is held during the second or early in the third trimester of pregnancy. This window of time is the most practical as miscarriages most frequently occur in the first trimester, and many babies are born before their due date. There is also an increasing trend toward having a shower after the birth of the baby when mom and dad can introduce their new bundle of joy to friends and family.

Etiquette once dictated that a shower was strictly for the first-born child. These days, a shower for a second, third, or any other addition is more than appropriate. Doesn’t every baby deserve a party? The celebration of a newly adopted child can also be a wonderful event. Gaining acceptance is the expectant grandparents shower. They too will need baby supplies for their new grandchild's upcoming visits, and items such as safety latches, diapers, and burp cloths are especially practical gifts.

The food and beverage choices for a shower are endless. Yes, it can be as basic as dessert and punch, but anything from gourmet hors d'oeuvres to burgers is perfectly acceptable. Creative cuisine is an interesting way to jazz up an otherwise standard baby shower. The food can be a reflection of the parents-to-be. Why not serve their favorite ethnic dishes or have the event catered by their neighborhood café?

Generally, alcohol is not served at a shower as a symbol of respect for the expectant mother, but even this is no longer an absolute no-no. Many a shower has been thrown as a sophisticated cocktail party with 'mocktails' served for those who choose not to imbibe anything stronger.

The only absolute when it comes to a baby shower is that it is never to be a competition to see who can give the most expensive gift or who can throw the most lavish affair. Many of the most memorable, thoughtful showers have been coordinated on a shoestring budget, and the most appreciated gifts that new parents will receive are those that are given with love.