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Baby Shower Etiquette

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

Is it proper to have a baby shower if the baby is not the first one for the couple? A family friend is having trouble conceiving, so should we not invite her to the baby shower because she might get upset by the celebration? What food is best? Is gift opening the last activity scheduled? Is there protocol regarding who can give the baby shower?


Shower Sensibility

Dear Shower Sensibility,

Traditionally, baby showers were given for the first baby only. But, nowadays showers can be given for second or third babies, however for these showers, close family would attend the shower only. General guidelines for a baby shower are below.

15 General etiquette guidelines for baby showers:

1. Host(s): Anyone, except the expectant couple, can host the baby shower.

2. Guest List: Consult with the mom-to-be regarding the guest list. Often baby showers are women only, but men can also be invited. If unsure whether to invite a guest who has lost a baby or is infertile because she might be uncomfortable attending a baby shower, then call and ask whether she would like to come to the shower. Do not assume that she would not want to be invited as her feelings may be hurt by the slight.

3. When Held: Baby shower held about 2 months before the expected due date.

4. Invitations Sent: 2-3 weeks before the shower; 4-6 weeks for out of town guests.

5. Length of Party: Keep party to three hours or less. Remember to the mom-to-be may need her rest.

6. Location: Often held at the home of the host, but can be at a restaurant or other venue.

7. Food: Can vary from appetizers only, tea party, brunch, potluck, buffets to full course meals, plus a cake.

8. Drinks: non-alcoholic drinks such as water, lemonade, tea, or punch are best as the expectant mom should not be drinking alcohol. However, depending on the time of day, alcoholic drinks such as wine could be available for the guests.

9. Multiple Showers: it is fine for the first time mom-to-be to have multiple showers with a different guest list (i.e. close family versus work associates).

10. Gifts: if there is no theme, then gifts can be anything that the baby or new mom could use. The host should help the mom-to-be by handing her each gift, recording who gave her what, and placing opened gifts aside. Be sure that the expectant mom has a comfortable chair in which to sit plus a footstool in order to raise her feet. Gifts can be opened before cake is served.

11. Games: optional, but fun to play 2-3 games if there is time.

12. Favors: optional, but nice for the guests to have as a remembrance.

13. Thank you cards: expectant mom should send thank you notes soon after the baby shower.

14. Itinerary: can vary, but basically snacks and drinks, games, main meal, gift opening, cake, hand out favors as guests begin to leave.

15. Subsequent Showers: for later babies normally attended by family only.