Someone you know, a friend, a friend’s child, your son or your daughter is going to have a baby. You decide to shower 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 delivery process, a tradition that dates back a long time. Here’s a brief history of the baby shower and seven ways to make it the best one yet.
Why a shower? Is it because the future mother will be filled with good wishes and good will? Because they will shower her 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 road to motherhood?
No one seems to know the exact history of baby showers, and much speculation centers on the fact that any theory that arises cannot 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 the mom and the little one. It is true that during those snacks, made for women who in earlier times were expected to remain hidden during their pregnancy, the attendees, always women only by the way, carried umbrellas waiting for the lucky downpour to appear. Never mind. The baby shower is now a solid part of the traditional pregnancy. Here are seven tips for creating and promoting the best baby shower under the sun.
1. One thing that is known about the baby showers of yesteryear is this. Most of the gifts were handmade. There is no reason to avoid this. We are up against tradition, after all. It takes little time and less technical skill to create a simple garment, baby toy, crib mobile, nightstand decoration, or other treat that Mom will cherish as part of the happy moment before delivery.
2. If you’re not feeling creative, go online and find a site for crafters like Etsy, etc. and order a personalized gift. Include names, dates, and inside information. This could be the only 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 close friends, but there is nothing that says I love you, I care about you, like a real shower of pampering. Buy bath oils, candles, incense, and mom-to-be’s favorite soft music. Then give him a bath or shower, followed by a long, long body massage, just as you would with your own child during a time of transition and change for him.
4. If there is a record, like babies-r-us, go through it and get what you can handle in your pocket. Receive it or take it with you. If there is extensive travel involved, for you or for them, be sure to adhere to the size and weight limits for any gifts you get.
5. Be sure to include the other children, if any. A small token, inexpensive toy, age-appropriate item of clothing, or healthy snack to recognize and include in the event will be greatly appreciated, perhaps even more by the mother than the child.
6. Make sure you acknowledge the mother in a way that preserves her autonomy in the process. We tend to focus all our attention on the newborn and neglect the mother. We assume a lot: that mom lets her belly touch; that she is willing to share the sex of the baby, if she knows; who likes to listen to the advice of people, especially those who do not have children of their own! It could be the best gift of all for a baby shower to give mom the assumption of maturity. Suppose you know what you are doing and everything else will follow.
7. Lastly, make sure Mom really wants a shower first. These days, with everyone working full time, chaotic schedules, other kids, busy spouses, the traditional shower may just rain down on Mom’s already hectic parade of responsibilities. The way to know if you would like a baby shower? Ask him.
Baby showers are about babies and expectant moms. They can be a great way to recognize the togetherness and community inclusion of women preparing for the birth of a child. One final note. Because all children, and all mothers, need to feel this inclusion, don’t forget that adoptive moms and dads need this recognition too. All of the above ideas will work equally well for parents about to adopt or in the process of adoption.