According to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “a baby shower is a way to celebrate the pending or recent birth of a child by presenting gifts to the parents at a party. The term “shower” is often assumed to mean that the expectant mother is “showered” with gifts.”
Where did this tradition originate? After some research, I didn’t really find a specific event or time these showers were created but I did find some interesting details.
In the Victorian era tea parties were given by the grandmother to “welcome home” baby after it was born. It was meant for women of the family to gather together and see the new little one while presenting a homemade gift to the mother. It was tradition that the grandmother presented something made of silver for the mother or baby. Typically the baby showers were only held for the first child for the women of the family to share the art of motherhood with the new mother.
After WWII it gradually developed into a more casual gift giving experience where it became acceptable to have the shower before birth and with fathers and friends. With a more relaxed feel, they usually consist of a few games, pastries, sweet decorations and gifts. It is now viewed more as a way to show support to expectant parents and share in their happiness and excitement. During the pregnancy it is a time to collect essentials such as diapers, bibs, clothing, blankets and even some baby foods. These are traditionally some of the gifts that invited guests will bring for the expectant parents. Having collected a few basics from a first child it then became tradition to give a “sprinkle” shower for the second child where less is needed.
Some believe the “welcoming of a child” is a personal, family event and should require no planning of a party – especially for a second or same sex child.
Whether it is a father/mother celebration with all your family and friends during a BBQ or an all woman tea party of gifts, it should be based on the support of the parents and love for the new child. If you are fortunate enough to have a friend or family member put together a showering of gifts for you it is usually greatly appreciated, especially if it is your first baby. Games where words of wisdom are put into baskets, a beautiful cake, and receiving the essential items for baby make for a great feeling of support and love.
What about for baby number two or three?
Is planning another baby shower necessary, or would having a second party be considered frivolous? Some view it as ridiculous, especially if it is the same sex as the first child. Although you do have quite a bit left from your first child it is amazing how much you actually do need the second time around.
If it is the same sex you may have some clothes and a stroller left but what if it is born the opposite time of year? It is almost a whole new wardrobe that is required. Things also wear out and break.
After years of using the same bottles, washcloths, rubber spoons, pacifiers, crib sheets and so on, these things all need replaced. You will also need a second dresser, bookshelf, bed, car seat … you get the idea. As you can see the list and cost is there for a second child just like the first. If you are having baby of a different sex you really need to start over and could use support from your friends and family.
I am not saying that all of these needs are the responsibility of friends and family, only that with the help of family or friends, planning a baby shower can relieve a lot of stress from the parents. Having had two showers of my own, I know that I was extremely grateful for any and all gifts that would supply and support my new little baby, not to mention all of the love and effort that went into the inviting, planning, decorating, and foods. There is no greater feeling than knowing other people are excited about your baby’s arrival and are happy to support your family.
So, should planning a baby shower be considered indulgent or practical? That is up to each one to decide but having been on the giving and receiving end I personally think they are a blessing. I thank all who have been involved in my showers, whether planning or gift giving; love you all.