A happy party involving family, relatives, and presents is the main feature of a baby shower. It is a positive step on the way to the baby’s arrival.
Yet, the current sanitary context makes today’s baby showers different. What are the codes, the practice, and what you can do in today’s circumstances?
What exactly Is a Baby Shower?
A baby shower is a celebration given to honor the upcoming birth of a baby. It is a very ancient tradition all over the world. It became popular in the US under its current designation and format during the post-WWII Baby Boom.
The arrival of a baby involves the need for a lot of new goods. A baby party is thrown for family and friends to meet and provide the parents with everything needed for the newborn. The baby is ‘showered’ with presents.
The Traditional Baby Shower Codes
The etiquette and tradition around baby shower ceremonies have been quite formal for a long time. No men allowed, the family should not host, must be held between 4 to 6 weeks before the due date, no shower for a second or third baby, length of time for sending thank-you notes. Emily Post and Miss Manners thought of everything.
These codes have evolved. Co-ed baby showers, postpartum showers, hosted by the mom-to-be party: all these formulas are now pretty standard. Baby showers (recently called gender-reveal party too) have grown into a massive business.
The event usually involves:
- A gift registry (note that the close family usually covers more expensive items such as strollers)
- Games (if you feel brave enough, some involve baby food guessing)
- A buffet (have you tried a diaper cake before? Enjoy it with a delicious mocktail)
- Small presents for the guests (to show gratitude for their participation)
- Getting wisdom and advice from those who have been there before
- Social media material (hi Instagram and Pinterest) for the community’s liking
But it’s a celebration for your baby, so let it be as you want it to be.
Themes and gifts
The baby shower theme should be happy and joyful and reflect something the parents love. There’s tons of sources of inspiration on social media, especially Pinterest. So many themes to choose from. Google is your best friend here. When throwing your invitation, make sure the guests know about the one you chose. And with the theme comes the baby registry.
Yet, the support from the family and friends doesn’t have to be only material. Gifts are great and sincerely appreciated. I remember my partner and I truly felt appreciative for all the presents. But beyond the material satisfaction that came with the baby stuff offered to us, we thought that we would have appreciated more than just equipment. Once our baby was here, the new parents we became sometimes felt overwhelmed.
This is why I would encourage you to twist the lines of tradition when it comes to gifts: the baby registry is not all about new fancy stuff. Take the opportunity to include some of the real needs of all new parents.
Get the baby shower participants to propose non-monetary help.
It can be time support: a best friend committing to help you with fresh and pleasant meals once the baby has arrived. Or another one is proposing to handle your groceries for some time, babysit your older kid, give a moral support call.
It can be nursing support: funding a nanny’s cost if you or your partner don’t have parental leave. This type of non-material help can be way more appreciated than a shiny brand new crib.
North American parents-to-be may feel social pressure about the event. Don’t let the baby shower codes overwhelm you. Getting off some of the anxiety that comes with the pregnancy should be one of a baby shower’s purposes, not the opposite.
But what is the pregnancy announcement custom in other countries?
Baby Shower Traditions Around the world
In most countries, the baby shower is not a thing. Celebrations usually happen after the baby is born. It is considered that making presents before birth is a bad omen.
A manyuejiu party (the equivalent of the baby shower) is thrown one month after the birth. Friends and relatives will hand the parents a red envelope with cash called ‘hongbao’ to show their compliments.
There’s no such thing as one celebration but different rituals to grant the baby a good life. During the ‘dog day’ of the fifth month of her pregnancy, the mother receives a cotton belt during a ceremony called ‘obi iway.’ It’s a way to wish the mother a safe and easy delivery. Seven days after the birth, the baby will be officially named during the Oshichiya Meimeishiki. After his first month, the Omiyamairi ceremony (first visit to a shrine), during which the baby receives prayers for his fortune and health.
In rural Botswana
The baby is taken out from home by relatives after his first three months of life and confinement (a period called ‘botsetsi’). He is then introduced to the community. The whole place celebrates with a feast and presents and says, ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’
One of the many baby birth rituals is called the seventh day (owwama in Pashto or shab-e-shash in Dari). It is done after seven days once the baby is presumed safe: a goat is sacrificed by the father to distribute the meat among the poor.
The Digital Baby Shower is a good solution in the current context
In the current sanitary context, the idea of a traditional gathering is excluded. Adding the stress of potential infection to Covid-19 during a baby shower is not the purpose.
But it is essential to break the solitude and feel the connection with the people you love. Virtual baby showers are not new, and people moving often are familiar with them (military staff families, for example).
Yes, it does look less appealing than a full-house party, but that’s the only way to do it for the time being. Many online baby shower services are available. Needless to say, 2020 has been a good year for them.
It’s better to miss a cake than catching Covid-19. I’m optimistic and believe that this pandemic will come to an end. People will joyfully meet again in 2021. Until then, let’s keep safe.
There will be better years for baby showers.
A baby shower is a perfect occasion for you to get together with your loved ones. Even though the actual circumstances impose social distancing, don’t let isolation get to you. Use the online options to connect with family and friends to celebrate the rite and get ready for this new chapter of your life. Remember, a baby shower is not just about gifts but support from the people who count most for you in these challenging times.