In some countries, 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. The related custom bridal shower may have derived its name from the custom in Victorian times for the presents to be put inside a parasol, which when opened would "shower" the bride-to-be with gifts.
Traditionally, baby showers were given only for the family's first child, and only women were invited. The original intent was for women to share wisdom and lessons on the art of becoming a mother. Over time, it has become common to hold them for subsequent or adopted children. It is not uncommon for a parent to have more than one baby shower, such as one with friends and another with co-workers.
Baby showers are an alternative to other European celebrations of nativity such as Baptisms. However, these can tend to be less materialistic as what is commonly known as a baby shower in the twenty-first century.
According to etiquette authority Miss Manners, because the party centers on gift-giving, the baby shower is typically arranged and hosted by a close friend rather than a member of the family, since it is considered rude for families to beg for gifts on behalf of their members. However, this custom varies by culture or region and in some it is expected and customary for a close female family member to host the baby shower, often the grandmother.
There is no set rule for when or where showers are to be held. The number of guests and style of entertainment are determined by the host. Most hosts invite only women to baby showers, although there is no firm rule requiring this. If the shower is held after the baby's birth, then the baby is usually brought, too. Showers typically include food but not a full meal.
Some hosts arrange baby-themed activities, such as games to taste baby foods or to guess the baby's birth date or sex.
A possible decoration or gift is the baby diaper cake. To make one, diapers and other typical baby supplies are arranged to look like a tiered wedding cake.
Baby showers and other social events to celebrate the impending or recent birth are popular around the world. They are commonly "women-only" social gatherings.
- In Canada, it's traditionally known that only women may attend this event.
- In Brazil, a party called "chá de bebê" (baby tea) is offered before birth and is often a "women-only" event.
- In Chinese tradition, a baby shower, called manyue (满月) is held one month after the baby is born. Due to the lack of advanced medical technology in ancient times, the high infant mortality rate prompted families and friends to celebrate if a baby survived more than one month after birth.
- In Armenia, a baby shower is called "qarasunq" (քառասունք) and is celebrated 40 days after baby's birth. It is a mixed party for all relatives and friends. Guests usually bring gifts for the baby or parents.
- In Iran, a baby shower is called sismoony party which in the family of pregnant woman 1-3 months before delivery will provide her virtually all accommodation and accessories her first baby needed. This includes but not limited to bed, toys, clothes, dishes and almost every things related to the baby. All family and close friends would be invited to see the gifted items and also themselves will bring a gift.
- In Costa Rica, a baby shower party is called té de canastilla ("basket tea").
- In Hindu tradition, they are called by different names depending on the community the family belongs to.
- In northern India it is known as godbharaai, in western India, especially Maharashtra, this celebration is known as dohaaljewan, and in West Bengal and Odisha it is called saadh.
- In Southern India, in Tamil Nadu/Andhra Pradesh it is called seemantam or Valaikaapu (The expecting mother wears bangles) and in Karnataka it is called shreemanta and is held when the woman is in her 5th or 7th or 9th months of pregnancy. These three types of celebrations are very similar to each other and are "women-only" events. There is music played, and the expecting mother is decked in traditional attire with lots of flowers and garlands made of jasmine or mogra. A swing is decorated with flowers of her choice, which she uses to sit and swing. At times there are symbolic cut-outs of Moons and Stars that are put up. There are blessings showered on her by the elderly ladies from the household and community. There are gifts given to the expecting mother. It is a very affectionate and fun-filled event for most of the expecting mothers since they are on the threshold of motherhood and entering a new life.
- In Kerala, it is known as Pulikudi, and is practiced predominantly in the Nair community, though it's popularity has spread to other Hindu sects as well over the years. On an auspicious day, after being massaged with homemade ayurvedic oil, the woman has a customary bath with the help of the elderly women in the family. After this, the family deity is worshipped, invoking all the paradevatas (family deities) and a concoction of herbal medicines prepared in the traditional way, is given to the woman. The woman is dressed in new clothes and jewellery used for such occasions. A big difference in the western concept of baby shower and Hindu tradition is that the Hindu ceremony is a religious ceremony to pray for the well-being of the baby. In most conservative families gifts are bought for the mother-to-be but not the baby. The baby is showered with gifts only after birth.
- In Islam adherents are required to perform aqiqah of newly born child. This involves the sacrifice of animals. The meat is then divided in three equal parts; one for the poor and needy, one for relatives and friends which can involve inviting them at home for a feast, and finally the last part is utilized by the household itself.
- In South Africa, a baby shower is called a stork party, and takes place typically when the mother is about 6 months pregnant. Stork parties are usually not attended by men, and South African men do not have an equivalent party of their own. The stork party is accompanied by silliness such as dressing up, and babycare related gifts are given to the mother. A stork party is often organised as a surprise without the mother's knowledge.
- In the United Kingdom, this is called wetting the baby's head, and is a more common substitute to a baby shower, which is seen as a materialistic American custom. Wetting the baby's head is traditionally when the father celebrates the birth by having a few drinks with a group of friends.
- In Nepal baby shower is called Pasni. It is often done to the boys in 6 month of their birth and it is done to the girls in 5 months of their birth. People give money and other gifts during the baby shower.
Baby showers for men
Some baby showers are directed at the future father. These may be more oriented towards drinking beer, watching sports, or playing video games. The primary nature of these gifts is diapers and/or diaper-related items. The organization of the diaper party is typically done by the friends of the father-to-be as a way of helping to prepare for the coming child. These parties may be held at local pubs/bars, a friend's house, or the soon-to-be grandfather's house.
Names for events
- Diaper shower refers to a small-scale baby shower, generally for subsequent children, when the parents don't need as many baby supplies.
- Grandma's shower refers to a shower at which people bring items for the grandparents to keep at their house, such as a collapsible crib and a changing pad.
- Sprinkles are small showers for a subsequent child, especially a child who is of a different gender than the previous offspring.
- Montemurro, Beth (2006). "Origins of Bridal Showers and Bachelorette Parties". Something Old, Something Bold. Rutgers University Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-8135-3811-4.
- Martin, Judith (10 September 2010). "Miss Manners: Modesty is the best party policy". The Washington Post.
- Kate Fox (2008). Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. pp. 360–361. ISBN 1-85788-508-2.
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- Martin, Judith (2009-01-28). "Miss Manners: Diaper party is beyond the pail - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
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- BabyCenter, Editors of; Murray, Linda J.; Scott, Jim; Leah Hennen (2005-06-22). The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Pregnancy and Birth: Expert Advice and Real-World Wisdom from the Top Pregnancy and Parenting Resource. Rodale. p. 346. ISBN 9781594862113. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
- Hill, Sabrina (2010-09-30). Everything Baby Shower Book: Throw a memorable event for mother-to-be. Adams Media. pp. 133–144. ISBN 9781440524455. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
- Vora, Shivani (9 December 2012). "For Baby No. 2 or 3, No Shower but a Sprinkle". The New York Times. p. 12. Retrieved 3 February 2013.