How should we plan baby showers for additional pregnancies?

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Sara sent us a question about baby showers for additional pregnancies… how do you plan them?

cowboy themed baby shower I am not a Mom, but I have a lot of friends entering that stage of their lives. One topic that I have come across recently in conversation and on the web is whether it is appropriate to have a shower for a second (or third, or seventh) child.

I had always thought it was the norm to have a shower for every baby — I am all for reusing and hand-me-downs, but doesn’t a new life deserve some new things? Maybe not the “baby-basics,” but what about a picture book with a personal message? A hand-made blanket?

Given that some people don’t like the idea of a baby shower for second or third children, how can you plan one that addresses the concerns, while maximizing the awesome?

Comments on How should we plan baby showers for additional pregnancies?

  1. Why would one celebrate the impending arrival of one child but not the other children? I thought baby showers were about celebration of new life. Yes, sometimes there are gifts, but that doesnt need to be the focus.

  2. I agree! a baby shower’s fist focus should be celebrating new life and a new step in the parents’ lives! i think showers are one of those things that make a pregnancy feel special and for the couple to feel the support of their loved ones around them! and besides, any excuse to have a get together with friends and eat is a good one!

  3. We always called them ‘sprinkles’ for second, third, and etc pregnancies. You get a few new things that you could need(Extra clothes, diapers, and stuff for a child of the opposite gender) but it was mostly a party to celebrate new life and it was a party for the new big brother/sister.

  4. The baby shower for my sister was a “Diaper Shower.” Since they already had all the stuff they needed, guests were asked to focus primarily on disposable diapers and subscriptions to cloth diapering services. Of course, some people DID give personal gifts (like a hand crocheted blanket, or a special teddy bear) instead.

  5. Im only on my first but my first baby shower was terrible. Hardly anyone showed up and everyone was a half hour late, not to mention pregnancy hormones and 90 degree weather making me pregzilla. With my second I plan on just having a get together at my house with some good food, family, and friends with no gifts involved (we cloth diaper, cosleep, and have pretty much everything we need). The only thing we would need is a carseat and I don’t really consider that a baby shower item since they are a little expensive. I want a celebration next time. In air conditoning.

    • I had the opposite problem – a COMPLETELY fluke snowstorm in October in Connecticut. People showed up, but there was lots of nervous energy as everyone looked out the window at the accumulating snow. And of course my mother FRETTING for all to see. I opened my gifts in approximately 30 seconds. I completely agree that a fun, low key, happy celebration is in order for baby #2!

  6. Babies really require very little material things. I agree it should be a celebration of life. In my family we have “meet the baby” parties after we know the baby is alive and healthy. My aunt, the first of my mother’s family to have children had 2 still birth baby boys and her third was a little girl who had to stay in the hospital for several weeks. She had all this boy stuff that reminded her of the two she lost so we always have our showers and parties after the baby gets here to celebrate their birth.

    We celebrated our baby with a baby/birthday/engagement party. I was hoping this would minimize the emphasis on gifts, but some people felt the need to bring 3 gifts! and FYI stay away from blankets! My baby got 30, yes 3-0 blankets. We donated most of them to a good cause though.

    • Stay away from stuffed animals, too! I think the only people who think those are a good gift could not possibly be parents. Stuffed animals can take over your life and they’re very hard to get rid of since people generally want new, unused ones! They’re cute, don’t ever want to sound ungrateful, but you spend the rest of your life trying to find a place to put them (literally, I still have a bunch of mine from my childhood, which I passed on to my son and then put a ban on any new stuffed critters).

    • in chinese culture you officially introduce your baby at one month old which is great because it gives baby time to grow a little and be handle-able by younger kids- and mom has time to rest up too.

      we are not chinese but it is a nice tradition our aunt has brought to the family.

    • I like this. In Judaeism we’re very squicky about buying stuff for nugget before he/she/zie makes an entrance. The meet the baby makes more sense cause mum partner and bubs have gotten settled and the parents have a better idea of what they need in terms of swag.

  7. I only have one daughter right now, our second baby is on the way.. but I am all about celebrating each and every childs life. I love to support the women in my life so I have never hesitated to go to a shower or buy a gift for a second baby.

    Personally, we got plenty from the baby shower and hand me downs from the first go around.. so I guess the way to address gifts at a subsequent shower vary by each mother and her situation.

    If you know the family has all the necessary gear, diapers, wet wipes are always needed and used (both cloth or disposable) or a hot meal for the whole family are good gifts that i’ve given to families who have multiple showers for their babies. (some said no gifts please. ) Either way, it is a usable gift that is appreciated, even if they have everything they need for the bub.

  8. I think it’s even MORE important to celebrate the babies that come AFTER the first… Most parents go into additional pregnancies with more understanding of the work ahead of them and need all the reminders they can get of the joy that’s ahead as well!! (and many have fewer financial resources to direct toward buying new baby stuff!). So do it up… And remember a few special gifts for the big brother or sister!

    • Love this idea! It’s been four years since I had a shower fro my son, we’re now expecting a girl and have moved across the country twice, ditching a lot of stuff that would be helpful now.

  9. I had no idea people didn’t have baby showers for every baby… There’ve been surprisingly few births in my family/circle of friends during my 21 years, so I’m completely out of the loop on these things. That said, I don’t get why you *wouldn’t* have additional celebrations. Even if you’re not in need of *stuff*, it doesn’t make sense to pass up an opportunity for a party.

    I’m going to my first baby shower next month – the coming baby gets a Pi shaped rattle, since her dad is going to be a math professor.

  10. i agree that baby showers are great for every baby. i wish i had one with each one of my kids, but no one threw me one and i didn’t want to throw one for myself.

  11. My crowd always does a Diapers and Wipes shower for the second and more babies, and if the new baby is a different gender you can through in some clothes. It’s important to celebrate the mom just doesn’t “need” all the stuff that you need with a first baby.

  12. I think it really depends on your “circle” (not sure if that’s the word I’m looking for but, you know, friends and family). I’ve seen people get really up in arms about the idea of a shower for a second + child, and I’ve seen others say it’s normal. I think this is one of those “to each their own” subjects. If someone is going to be offended over the idea, they always have the option of not attending.
    Also, I think a “meet the baby” party is a great idea (even for a first baby)!

  13. I’m generally of the mind that you should do what you want to do and throw a party if you want to throw a party. And I have no problem with celebrating all new babies. But please recognize that when you do this as a “shower,” the invitation traditionally comes with an expectation that all your friends are going to bring you a gift. So you might just think about it from your guests’ perspective.

    I, myself, don’t love it when I’m presented with an invite to a second and third shower–especially when it comes with links to a couple of registries. I was fine with helping my buddy get set up for parenting the first time around. But this time it’s like, “We have everything we need for baby, so we’re collecting money for the college fund!” Or they’re asking for Yoga for Mommy DVDs or contributions to a spa weekend. All I can think is, “Wait, if you don’t NEED anything…maybe just don’t throw a baby shower and force your friends to buy you things? Maybe we all just have lunch?”

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a grinch. I will come celebrate with you. I will eat cake, I will play the string around the belly game, and I’ll probably at some point give you a baby gift anyway if we’re close. But I think repeat-moms should be sensitive to the fact that a second “shower” can be seen as a second obligation to buy stuff. Also, once you have everything you need, it seems especially crass to ASK your friends to buy you luxuries or give you cash.

    I’d propose that the most sensitive thing to do is not style it as a shower at all. Because if you have a shower but say “no gifts,” half the people will bring them anyway and the other half will be embarrassed. Maybe just have a party. You have fun, you celebrate life. And people who want to give you gifts can still do so in a more low-key way without any expectations.

    • I absolutely agree. If you want to celebrate the new life, sans presents, you throw a “yay! it’s a baby!” party and you don’t call it a shower.

      Where I am it’s typical to do a big shower for the first baby, and then the mom’s intimate circle of friends will often have a quiet cocktail party or coffee cake brunch or something that celebrates #2 (or #3 or #17) and involves some SMALL gifts, but it’s not a shower, the gifts are much more modest, and the guest list is very, very contained to those of the mom’s friends who would get gifts for the new baby anyway.

    • I don’t understand why it’s any more crass than a first baby shower. Asking for things is asking for things and whether you have a need for things isn’t always related to the baby number. Some people are super wealthy and don’t need help for the first, some people might have had a reduction in circumstances (lost a job etc) and could use some help for the second plus.

      • This financial line of thinking is a two-way street. My boyfriend and I are both students and young professionals and money is tight in our everyday life. By contrast, many of our friends who are having kids and getting married are quite well established. We would never dream of not contributing to a birthday, shower or wedding, and always make cuts to the budget when these things come around, but when you have all the basics and still throw (gift expected) showers for your second and third child, I am going to get offended. Of course I love your third child as much as the previous two, and I want to celebrate their entrance into the world, but do you really need more receiving blankets or another “Baby Einstein” video? Unless you are really in need, multiple baby showers can put a strain on people in your life, and you might not even be aware of it. When I am in that position I will gladly have a “meet the baby” get together, but expecting people to contribute gifts every time I have a child seems a little excessive.

  14. I was due in February, so I planned a big Christmas + Baby Welcoming Party. We had moved across the country between kids, packing only what would fit in the car, and therefore had to get rid of every last baby item. I felt super awkward about the baby party even though we had a totally legitimate reason why we were starting over with baby things. I fretted over the acceptability of a second baby party (although we didn’t list a registry or anything). Overall I was thinking that, since we moved closer to my husband’s side of the family, they would be excited to celebrate this baby since we were so far for the birth of our first.

    It ended up okay, but I think many guests were confused by the combo Christmas-time plus shower-ish party. But they were confused by our combining a Catholic Church wedding with a laid back reception, so I think our friends and family just like very straightforward, expected events. I think it would have actually been less awkward if I’d let someone throw us a traditional shower. But I’m still glad we did it our way: we had two bon fires, had a box for baby name suggestions, and generally got the idea across that we could celebrate a baby and the holiday season at the same time.

    We were using cloth diapers, so we didn’t need diapers, but I did have another friend who switched to cloth between kids and all she asked for was cloth diapers. That worked out really well for her.

    Now that its all said and done, I think it would have been nice to have a party after our baby arrived and celebrated with everyone then.

    • “I think it would have been nice to have a party after our baby arrived and celebrated with everyone then.”

      We did this with the baptism, invited all of our friends (church portion optional) and used that as our “yay! it’s a baby!” celebration. We had it semi-catered and had sandwiches, cake, champagne, etc.

      I always wonder why more people who want to celebrate the baby don’t celebrate after the baby’s arrived … you don’t need the excuse of a religious ritual to have an “I’m New Here!” party!

      • speaking for myself only, the reason I had the party before the baby came instead of after was because I knew I would be too overwhelmed ( and I dont have a mom or a sister to help me) to plan a party while also having a newborn.

        • I go back and forth on that… I think I would have been overwhelmed if I was doing it all myself, but at least the first time around the tradition seems to be that someone else plans/hosts the party. But either way, one reason that I think it would have been nice after the baby is because such a big deal is made during pregnancy, and for a lot of women including myself, it seems like everyone suddenly disappeared when the baby was actually here. I felt like a lot of people were staying away so as not to burden the “busy, tired new mom” but it felt very isolating. So I think a party after baby may also be good at sending the message that the family is still up for seeing other human beings and getting everyone introduced to and bonding with the baby.

  15. In my opinion the only way to throw a “baby shower” for a second child is to throw a “Meet the Baby” gathering – that way people aren’t expected to bring gifts, but if they do it won’t be awkward or out of place. As the friend of multiple people with children, I have no problem getting something significant for each child – a hand knit baby blanket, for instance. But the “big present” that we got for our one set of friends (a pack and play) will definitely not be something that we spend on every child, and we are not willing to spend that sort of money each time.

    I think that calling a second child’s party a “shower” when the premise of a shower is to shower the mother and child with presents, is inaccurate and misleading and in many areas quite tacky. A Meet and Greet is a much more pleasant proposal, and people don’t feel obligated to bring a present that way.

    • But what about this senario? My youngest daughter is 4. She is from a previous relationship. My current partner and I are wanting to have a child together and I will carry the baby. Should we not have a baby shower since technically it’s my 3rd, but her first?

      • If you want to have a shower, do it. Some people look for a reason to be offended… you’ll never please those people. I did not have a shower or celebration for my youngest, which I regret. Every life is worth celebrating! Now I am pregnant with a surprise addition to our family… and I’m having a celebration.

  16. I always thought each baby got it’s own shower… It’s a celebration of a new life and I think it’s nice for the new baby to get a few personalized items– a baby book, maybe a few handknitted blankies etc as keepsakes would be nice. I actually LIKE making/buying baby gifts (there aren’t very many in my family, so it’s not a very common occurence). Also, I can see if the baby is a different gender (I personally am not a huge fan of the blue pink thing… but my cousin wasn’t either and she got a deluge of pink goods the first time round.) I doubt if she has a son she’ll want to put him in “princess” sleepers, tutus and little dresses… so I suppose another baby shower, maybe on a smaller scale, would be beneficial. 🙂 Obviously it’s a personal choice, but I wouldn’t think it was weird to be invited or to throw a 2nd+ baby shower 🙂

  17. For those of you who have had Meet the Baby parties, how long do you wait after the birth? I can’t imagine having a crowd of people in my house breathing on my newborn and his immature immune system. For our first son, we had folks come over is 2s or 3s once or twice a week starting around week 3. And we made everyone wash their hands before they touched him. Was that overprotective?

    • We had a “30-day” party for our first baby (we also had a shower). In Vietnamese tradition, and most other Asian cultures, they have a party to celebrate the first month of life. Before then the mother isn’t supposed to do anything other than take care of her baby (some don’t even think you should shower or walk downstairs!). We didn’t go that far, but we still thought it was a nice way to introduce our daughter to her relatives.

    • Maybe a little bit overprotective. It a question of perspective, I think. In Europe (the Netherlands, and Germany as mentioned below), usually there is no baby shower, but people visit to see the baby after it is born. Close relatives and friends from the first day on, but they will only stay for like 30 minutes. Also, sometimes after 3-6 weeks a party is given where everone comes at once.
      I have seen a lot of newborns in my life and only kids/adults who coughed (badly) or had a cold weren’t allowed near a baby. Everyone else even gets to hold the baby when they visit! I think things like hygiene and health are a matter of culture for a large part. 🙂

      Edit: Here, you get a nurse at home to help you with the baby and yourself for at least a week (I think 10-12 days) when the baby is born. (Home births are the norm, but if you need to go to an hospital, you will still get a nurse when you get back home until you can manage yourself). So in terms of it being overwhelming to have people over to visit, the nurse will take care of the guests, give them coffee etc. When a party is thrown, it is usually after a couple of weeks in a weekend, so the mom is walking again and help from family can be enlisted.

      • That’s so cool about the nurse! In aus we get a few short home visits from the child health nurse/midwife just to check on the mum and bub and make sure both are healthy and coping. But to have someone actually come help you out with actually caring for the baby for a week would be awesome.

    • We came home from the hospital from giving birth to my son on Labour Day so since everyone had the day off, everyone came to our place to meet the baby and have a barbecue. That said, it was potluck and my MIL organized it, so it wasn’t any “work” for us. So, he was just over 1 day old. It was an early afternoon barbecue and nobody was offended when baby and I disappeared for a nap.

    • I don’t think you’re being overprotective, doctors recommend not exposing your newborn and making everyone wash their hands before handling them. Besides, it’s your child and it’s about what you are comfortable with. The shower or party isn’t for everyone else, it’s for your family. If you aren’t comfortable passing your newborn around then don’t do it.
      I feel the same way,by the way… I would never pass a new baby around to everyone like that. Babies’ immune systems are too immature when they are new.

    • I’m glad you mentioned blessings. We did a “family blessing” shortly before our daughter was born, and it was really special. We gave our friends candles to light during my labor, and everyone brought something for the birth altar, and said what it meant to them. Mostly stuff like rocks, rosemary, lavender, etc. My father-in-law sang a beautiful song and printed it out and framed it for the birth altar, and my mother-in-law read “Love You Forever”. It was really special.

  18. In Germany (at least as far as I know, and I can’t guarantee it won’t end up imported, like Halloween for example) we don’t generally do baby showers at all. I didn’t even know what that was for the longest time.
    We usually have visitors and presents AFTER the baby is born, though not all of them at once.
    I suppose close friends and family might contribute to baby preparations (my mother got most of my baby clothes from her sister (who already had two children) though I did get some of my own stuff (my father bought my first outfit (yellow jacket) while my mother was in the hospital with me.

    I think it mostly depends upon the people and how they do stuff. By today, I’m sure some people have adopted the idea of a baby shower (it sounds fun!) but it’s not a general expectation.

    • It’s not any part of the tradition in Scotland either. It’s expected that anyone that knows you well enough to make a special trip to your house to see your new baby after it’s born doesn’t come empty handed, but the presents normally run to bootees and romper suits. Big things like cribs might be provided by a grandparent to be, but the expectation is that the parents do that stuff. Theres no big party either, just visitors spread out over the babies first month. I think the reason, and it’s probably the same in germany, is that so much can go wrong with a pregnancy, it doesn’t seem right to make a huge celebration (aside from the intial round of congrats at the start) until the baby pops out safely.

      • Yeah, the dropping by (at a set time) after the baby is born and bringing a present (depending in size on the closeness of the connection and your personal money situations (and as most everbody visits seperately there’s no competition)) is what sounds usual to me.
        Mostly clothes or a/some toys.

        Only the very close friends and family will be more directly involved.

  19. A few ideas:

    A book shower (can never have too many!)

    A “coupon” shower — everyone brings a personal offer of a way they can help (i.e. a meal, a night of babysitting, a housecleaning, etc) during the baby’s first year.

    • We asked friends and family to bring their favorite children’s book in place of a card and to sign it with a little message to our daughter. A sweet way to jump-start her library!

  20. Our playgroup seemed to all be pregnant at once. We decided to host “casserole showers” for whoever was up to birth next. Basically, we each brought a [healthy] meal that would feed the mom’s family for a night and stuck it in the freezer with instructions on how to reheat it. That way, she and her partner could relax and enjoy the new family member without having to worry so much about meal preparation for the first couple weeks. Just make sure that guests know if the family is vegetarian, gluten-sensitive, or if there are any allergies to be aware of (and sometimes things like broccoli aren’t great for breastfeeding moms). Homemade dishes from family recipes bestow a little extra love, but purchased frozen meals wouldn’t be bad either. The focus at our showers was on lightening the load and easing the transition from one to two kiddos.

    • We’ve done this, but with gift cards for local take out! For those nights when everything’s chaos and the idea of someone delivering dinner to your door sounds fabulous. 🙂

  21. I never even realized that it was taboo to have a second shower until my sister-in-law told me she had to plan her own shower the second go around. I didn’t really get it because I’d never even been to a baby shower before. Now that I have a son of my own I can understand why people would be put off by the idea of a second “shower.” Calling it a baby “shower” I think would be the biggest issue. I only invited /very/ close friends and family to my first shower anyway but for pregnancy number two you might consider keeping the guest list small and just calling it a party.

    I love the idea of having a “yay I’m here” party for the baby after he/she is born. That would be an awesome opportunity for everyone to give a little something if they wanted and to maybe have something for the big brother or sister as well to make them feel less left out. People close to you will probably get you gifts anyway and in most cases on the second or twelfth pregnancy you won’t need much in the way of big purchases.

  22. A lot of people throw parties they call a Blessingway, which we’re not technically supposed to use anymore because it’s also the name of a Native American – I think Arapaho? – ceremony, and they are upset that the meaning is being usurped from them, so others call it a Mother Blessing. The idea is to celebrate the awesome creative power of the mother and the new life coming into the world. It usually involves ceremony’s and rituals, from things as complex as having a religious official come in and do a ceremony to as simple as everyone watching the mom get henna. Gifts are often involved, but they’re more for the mother. It’s kind of a cool idea.

  23. In my first pregnancy we did a “taboo” thing and threw our own co-ed shower in our own home just a few days before my birthday. We didn’t register anywhere and encouraged people if they REALLY wanted to get something they should do something sentimental (handmade) or practical (cloth diapers, sleeper pajamas, etc) compared to many our shower was very small in terms of “loot” but we felt really loved. I’m sure we’ll do the same thing if we have another baby.

  24. I’m in the UK, so don’t get the baby shower thing at all. I go visit to inhale a newborn, and take at the least a card and usually a gift, and would do so for every new baby regardless of whether it’s first/second/ninth. There seems to be less of an expectation to buy a gift though, and I’ve never seen a baby registry

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