Baby Shower Etiquette: Rules For Hosts And Guests

Mom at baby shower holding belly

Baby showers are a time to celebrate the little one on the way and give special (and needed!) gifts to the mom-to-be. But whether you’re hosting a baby shower, attending, or are the expecting mom, you probably have baby shower etiquette questions.

No matter your role at the upcoming shower, the Newton Baby experts are here to answer your questions. We’ll cover basic etiquette rules for the host or hostess, the mom-to-be, and the guest.

Baby Shower Etiquette For Hosts And Hostesses

Hostess at baby shower serving drinks

Who Can Have A Baby Shower?

Any parent expecting a child! That includes single parents, adoptive parents, and anyone in-between.

The most common situation is a shower for a pregnant mom, so that’s what we’ll refer to in this article, but we believe that baby showers are appropriate for anyone welcoming a new child into their life!

Are Baby Showers Appropriate For Second Or Third Babies?

Years ago, it may have been thought baby showers were only appropriate for a woman’s first child.

While some may still stick to that rule, baby shower etiquette has changed over the years. It’s now considered acceptable to have a baby shower or baby sprinkle for second or third babies (or fourth or fifth!).

If that’s the case, be sure that the expecting mom registers for exactly what she needs since the essentials for a second baby are different from when she was getting her house baby-ready for the very first time.

For a second or third baby, you might consider shifting the focus of the celebration. Turn it into a special time with the mother-to-be and fewer gifts, or ask guests to bring gifts that go with a certain theme (such as books).

Who Throws The Baby Shower?

The better question is “who shouldn’t throw the baby shower?” And the answer to that question: the mom-to-be and her partner.

Traditionally, immediate family was out of the running as well when it came to throwing a baby shower. But now, it’s much more acceptable for any close friend or family member to throw a shower for the expecting mom!

Who Foots The Bill?

The host pays for the expenses of the baby shower. That being said, co-hosting a shower with one or two others is a good way to split the costs (and the planning).

When Should The Baby Shower Happen?

For pregnant moms-to-be, baby showers typically happen sometime during the third trimester. Around four to eight weeks before her due date is a good time.

Holding the shower well before the baby’s expected arrival gives the expecting parents enough time to prepare the nursery with the gifts they received and purchase anything they didn’t.

You’ll want to take into account whether or not she has other showers, cultural norms, and how comfortable she’ll be once her belly gets big later in her pregnancy.

When Should Invitations Be Sent?

Traditionally, etiquette calls for baby shower invitations to be sent four to six weeks before the party. Send the invitations too early and guests may forget. Send them too late and they might not have enough time to prepare.

invitations following baby shower etiquette

Are Electronic Invitations OK?

Pretty paper invitations are a nice touch, but electronic invitations are a-OK to use, especially if you’re in a time crunch or trying to lend a hand to the planet and cut down on paper.

Whatever sort of invite you choose, include all the information guests need:

  • The mother’s name
  • Date
  • Time
  • Place
  • How and when to RSVP
  • Any special instructions, like what to wear or what to bring (in the case of gifts for a themed shower).

It’s up for debate whether you should include registry information on the invitations, on a separate slip of paper inside the envelope, or leave it out altogether, so use your discretion.

Who Is Invited?

Who is invited is entirely up to the mom-to-be. Baby showers were once strictly for the ladies in her life, but this has changed in recent years!

Now, showers can also include men and kids. It simply depends on the vibe you want to create and who the expecting mother wants to include.

Who Plans The Menu?

The host typically takes the reins when it comes to planning the menu and preparing the food, whether it’s tea, hors d'oeuvres, or a light meal.

Still, it’s a good idea to ask the expecting mom if she has any preferences (did somebody say “pregnancy cravings?”). Also ask if she’s OK with you serving refreshments that she can’t enjoy, such as alcohol.

Are Baby Shower Games A Must?

A typical baby shower includes playing games, watching the mother-to-be open gifts, eating, and drinking. However, games aren’t a must.

Some baby shower hosts and hostesses are foregoing the typical games in favor of other activities. Ask the expecting mother what she thinks about games and what she would like to do!

Should The Mom-To-Be Open Gifts During The Shower?

Traditionally, opening gifts happens during the shower. It gives guests a chance to watch the mom-to-be open the gifts they brought and everyone likes seeing all of the tiny, cute baby things!

However, the baby shower tide is changing. Rethink the traditional gift-opening ritual if the expecting mom feels shy about it or if there will be lots of guests and lots of gifts, making gift-opening a long process.

Baby Shower Etiquette For Guests

Guest giving gifts by following baby shower etiquette

What Should You Do When You Receive An Invitation?

When you receive an invitation to a baby shower, the first thing you should do is check the invitation for two things: who is invited and when you need to RSVP.

Don’t assume your kids or significant other are invited unless it says so on the invitation! Avoid a faux pas by looking at the invite before making plans.

The other thing you’ll want to look for is the RSVP date and contact information. Be a considerate guest and let the host or hostess know in a timely manner whether or not you will be able to attend.

What If You Can’t Attend?

If you can’t attend the baby shower, let the host or hostess know so soon as possible.

Additionally, although gifts and treats are always welcome, there’s no need to feel obligated to send something. You can always save your gift for when you get to meet the baby in person.

Can You Go Without A Gift?

Never show up to a baby shower without a gift in hand! That being said, you’re not required to buy a gift from the registry.

Feel free to shop around and choose any special gift for the new little one (and their mommy!). It’s also OK to go in with a group to purchase one of the more expensive items on the registry, like the rocking chair, stroller, or crib mattress.

Lastly, consider bringing a practical gift — something cute but useful, like Newton Baby’s Breathable, Organic Cotton Sheets.

What Should You Talk About At The Shower?

Once you’re at the event, good baby shower etiquette includes keeping conversation encouraging and lighthearted!

Avoid making comments about how big her third-trimester belly is or bringing up controversial topics like parenting styles, birth methods, discipline, or breastfeeding!

You want the mom-to-be to feel encouraged and excited about the upcoming adventure with her new little one!

Baby Shower Etiquette For Expecting Moms

Expecting mom with flowers at baby shower

Is It OK To Have More Than One Baby Shower?

Yes! If more than one friend offers to throw a shower, you can say “yes!” to all of them.

There’s nothing wrong with having multiple celebrations to accommodate different groups: for example, you may have one shower for friends and coworkers and another just for family.

What Can You Do To Help?

Your job as the expecting mom is mostly to sit back, relax, and open gifts!

That said, it could be a nice gesture to ask the host or hostess ahead of time if you can help with the food or let them know that you’d like to prepare small favors for the guests.

What Should Your Registry Include?

Your baby registry should include a large variety of baby items, from lower-priced essentials (like spoons, diapers, and swaddles) to the bigger items, such as a stroller and your baby’s crib mattress.

Having a large variety is considerate to your guests because it allows them to pick what they like and spend what they want.

If you’re putting bigger-ticket items on your registry, register for a breathable mattress! Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress is comfy, 100% breathable, 100% washable, and independently tested and certified for low chemical emissions.

What About Thank-You Notes?

In addition to oohing and aahing over the gifts your loved ones bring, your other job is to write thank-you notes for those gifts!

Your friends and family have showered you with love and baby items, and now you have the chance to express your gratitude with a card.

Make the thank-you cards as personal as you can, thanking the guest for coming, for their support, and for their gift.

Send the notes out soon after the shower unless your baby makes an early appearance, in which case, it’s OK to take a few weeks to get your cards written and mailed.

To top off great baby shower etiquette, give a small gift and thank-you note to the host or hostess of your shower, too! After all, they put a lot of time, effort, and heart into throwing you a sweet celebration.

Showers Of Love And Support

expecting mom celebrating with family and friends

For the host and guests, a baby shower is a time to show care and support. For the mother-to-be, it’s a time to receive them!

Follow our baby shower etiquette rules to help this important event go off without a hitch.

Once the expecting mom is outfitted with baby essentials like swaddles, a Newton Baby Crib Mattress, and, most importantly, your encouragement, she’ll be ready to welcome her new little one and all the adventures that lie ahead!

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