Someone you know, a friend, the child of a friend, your son or daughter is having a baby. You decide to have a shower for them. Someone asks what they can do to help, what to bring, and all the details. The baby shower is an important ritual in the pregnancy and birth process, a tradition that goes back a long way. Here’s a short history of the baby shower, and seven ways to make it the best one yet.
Why a shower? Is it because the mom to be will be showered with good wishes and good will? Because she’ll be showered with gifts? Or is it because of the shower of happy tears that will flow during the event, one of the happiest, most solidly traditional milestones on the way to becoming a mother?
No one seems to know the exact history of baby ‘showers’, and much speculation centers on the fact that whatever theory arises can’t be proven. Perhaps at one of the common tea parties held for the expectant mom, a rain shower was a sign of good luck and good fortune for mom and the little one. It is true that during those tea parties, held for women who, in earlier times, were expected to stay hidden during their pregnancy, attendees, always women only by the way, carried umbrellas along hoping the fortunate shower would appear. No matter. The baby shower is a solid part of traditional pregnancy now. Here are seven tips on creating and promoting the best baby shower under the sun.
1. One thing that is known about baby showers of old is this. Most of the gifts were handmade. There’s no reason to bypass this. We are dealing with tradition, after all. It takes little time, and less technical skill, to create a simple garment, baby toy, crib mobile, nightstand decoration or other knick-knack that mom will cherish as part of the happy time before delivery.
2. If you’re not feeling creative, get on-line and find an artisan site such as Etsy etc. and commission a personalized gift. Include names, dates, secret insider information on it. This could be the one gift mom and baby will keep forever.
3. Depending on how close you are to the mom to be, why not a real shower? This is reserved for spouses, or truly intimate friends, but there’s nothing that says I love you, I care for you, like a royal shower of pampering. Purchase bath oils, candles, incense and the expectant mom’s favorite soft music. Then give her a bath or shower, followed by a long, lingering total body massage, just like you would have with your own child during a time of transition and change for them.
4. If there’s a register, such as babies-r-us, check it out and obtain whatever your pocketbook can handle. Have it delivered, or take it along. If there’s extensive travel involved, for you or them, be sure to observe size and weight limits for whatever gift you obtain.
5. Don’t forget to include the other kids, if there are any. A small token, inexpensive toy, age-appropriate clothing item or healthful snack items, to recognize them, and to include them in the event will be much appreciated, perhaps even more by mom than the child.
6. Make sure you recognize the mom to be in a way that preserves her autonomy in the process. We tend to focus all our attention on the soon to be newborn, and neglect mom. We assume a lot: That mom allows touching her belly; that she’s willing to share the baby’s sex–if she knows; that she enjoys hearing advice from people, especially those who have no kids of their own! It could be the best gift of all for a baby shower to shower mom with the assumption of maturity. Assume she knows what she’s doing, and everything else will follow.
7. Finally, make sure mom to be actually wants a shower in the first place. These days, with everyone working full time, chaotic schedules, other kids, busy spouses, it’s possible the traditional shower will just rain on mom’s already hectic parade of responsibilities. The way to find out if she would like a baby shower? Ask her.
Baby showers are about babies, and moms to be. They can be a great way to acknowledge the bonding and communal inclusion of women preparing for the birth of a child. One final note. Because every child, and every mom, needs to feel this inclusion, don’t forget that adoptive moms and dads need this recognition, too. All the ideas above will work equally well for parents about to, or in the process of adopting.