The Baby Shower: Trends and Traditions

Ever wondered what the term “baby shower” means? Firstly, let’s establish it isn’t a device for cleaning babies. That said, its origins are not really known but its current, popular usage, is by the Americans, to describe a particular “rite of passage”.

While the Americans may have popularized the term, the actual occasion known as a “rite of passage” is described as a ceremonial event, which exists in all historically known societies, that marks the passage from one social or religious status to another.

So what rite of passage is a baby shower? It is generally a ceremony to celebrate the birth of a baby where both mother and baby are “showered” with gifts. Traditionally they tended to be “female only” affairs where a female friend or member of the family hosts the “shower on behalf of the mother and baby. Whilst historically the celebration of this event has always existed, the rituals, activities and even the name have developed over time and culture.

The “baby shower” as we know it today, particularly in the US where it is a popular event, began after World War II. The birth of a new baby is celebrated by family and friends in a party atmosphere. Increasingly they are held for expectant mothers as well and invitations are extended beyond female friends and family to include men and children. Indeed there are now “Daddys Showers” and “Grandmas Showers”.
Minority groups in the US like African Americans and indigenous groups like the Native American groups may include activities that emphasize the cultural heritage of the child. Many American Jews do not hold baby showers as nothing can be bought before the child is born within the tradition.
In the past, Europeans have always celebrated the birth of new babies, often tying it in with the Christian ceremony of baptism. However the baby shower as a custom popular in the US, is a recently imported phenomenon in Europe.
So what happens at a typical “baby Shower? Some classic activities include:-
• Guess the birth date of the baby
• Guess the sex of the baby if the shower is held before the birth
• Guess the size of the expectant mother’s girth! This involves the guests cut ting pieces of ribbon, yarn, or even toilet paper to a length they believe will match the expectant mother’s tummy circumference.
• In connection to the above another game is to tie a string around her abdomen, and if it breaks for that particular person, it’s expected that she or he is the next new parent.
• Guess the flavour of various baby foods. Here guests have to taste several flavours of baby food and try to identify them.
• Other games include a nappy or diaper throwing game, where the nappies contain sweets or chocolates.
• Of course the ceremonial gift opening in front of the guests.
• Serving the cake, along with other food or beverage.
• A toast maybe of champagne to “wet the baby’s head”.
Gift giving has always been a part of this occasion and tends to be practical items parents will need to help take care of their new child. In olden times the gifts given to the family were handmade, these included clothing, blankets, and even food items. Historically the shower was given after the birth and coming to view the new child was part of the occasion. More contemporary gifts include similar items, baby clothes etc. which can be chosen from an extensive range in numerous shops and on-line sites selling baby products. Gift buyers are spoilt for choice.
Some shops provide Newborn Lists, where the parents can select the gifts that they need for the baby and avoid being given duplicate presents or presents they can’t use. Popular choices for baby shower presents are baby gift boxes, baby shower sets or a special set of designer baby clothes. Reputable companies provide special combinations of high quality goods at competitive prices carefully thought out to suit the needs of mother and baby.