Baby shower planning: Everything you need to know

Not sure how to start your baby shower planning? No worries – we have tips for just about every aspect, from when to have your baby shower, to who should host, to what games you can play.

pregnant woman smiling at party with others in the background
Photo credit: Thinkstock

When to have a baby shower

There's no hard and fast rule, but many baby showers happen one or two months before the baby's due date. Throwing the shower sooner is fine, too; maybe there are scheduling constraints or concerns about the baby arriving early, for example.

If it's best for cultural or logistical reasons to throw a shower after the baby's here, no problem. (In some cultures, it's considered bad luck to celebrate a baby or buy gifts before the baby arrives.) The point is to celebrate the addition of the baby to the family and to shower the parents-to-be with love and support – and some of the stuff they'll need.

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When scheduling the party, first talk to the parents-to-be and settle on a date and time that will work for them. You may also need to work around the schedule of any VIP guests, like the baby's grandparents.

Once the shower date is set, the guest or guests of honor should create a baby registry (if they're planning to use one) at least a couple of months before the party. Figuring out what to put on a baby registry can take a while. And it's a good idea to give guests several weeks to shop for a gift.

Who should host the baby shower

It used to be considered bad manners for a family member to throw a shower because it might seem like you're asking for gifts. But these days, just about anything goes. Any relative, close friend, or close co-worker should feel perfectly okay about planning a baby shower. It's still rare for the mom-to-be or grandparents-to-be to host a shower, but that may be changing.

Is it okay to have a shower for a second baby?

Some people think it's bad form to have a shower after a first baby. Others say that every baby deserves to be celebrated. Is it okay to throw baby showers for second (and subsequent) babies?



Not sure

Who to invite to a baby shower

If you're hosting the shower for a close friend, you may have some ideas about the guest list already. It's best to consult with the guest (or guests) of honor before finalizing your list, though. That way, you won't accidentally leave out someone important – or invite someone they would rather not include.

If the parents-to-be have close friends and family who live far away and can't make it to the shower, consider setting up a time during the event when they can be included through a video call. Make sure they get an invitation with all the details.

Virtual baby showers have become more popular and are a nice way to include far-flung friends and family members.


Do dads go to baby showers?

Although many baby showers still follow the "women only" tradition, coed baby showers are also popular. Some dads even have their own baby shower. It all depends on what sort of gathering the expectant parents prefer.

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Is it okay to throw a baby shower for a second child?

Showers for a second or subsequent baby have become more common and are considered appropriate. Parents whose children have a large age gap may be especially appreciative, because they may not have held on to their old baby clothes and gear. (Plus, some gear – like car seats – can become dangerously outdated.)

There's always reason to celebrate a new baby, whether it's a large or small affair. For parents who prefer a smaller event the next time around, consider throwing a "baby sprinkle," which is a scaled-down version of a full shower. For example, the gathering could be an afternoon picnic or a simple pancake breakfast, with or without games. There may be only a small registry or no registry at all.

When to send baby shower invitations

Send invitations early enough to give the guests at least three weeks' notice: That way everyone has enough time to put the shower on their calendar and shop for the perfect gift.

You can send invitations by mail or email, or by scheduling an event on social media.

In addition to all the basic information (who, what, where, when, and RSVP instructions), it never hurts to let people know the theme of the shower if there is one. If the expectant parents are registered anywhere for baby gear, it's fine to mention that too. (Or you can give guests the registry information when they RSVP.)

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Is a surprise baby shower a good idea?

Think long and hard before choosing to throw a surprise party. If your guest of honor doesn't like surprises or was really hoping for a specific type of event, you could put them in an awkward position. On the other hand, if you let the future parents in on the arrangements, you can be confident that they'll be pleased with the outcome.

Baby shower games

As you're planning for the shower, make sure to check out our list of dozens of fun baby shower games. These range from simple to elaborate, and will help you and your guests laugh, bond, and make memories.

Here are some other things to consider for the baby shower:

  • You may want to choose a theme to tie everything together. It's not necessary, but it can help you make decisions about elements of the party, and it's often fun for guests.
  • Plan to serve some type of food and refreshment, depending on the time of day, your budget, and how fancy (or informal) the shower will be.
  • Some people like to play fun or silly baby shower games, but there are plenty of other festive activities to keep guests entertained. These are some favorite baby shower activities.
  • It's customary to give favors to everyone who attends the baby shower. Or you can offer prizes to the guests who win games instead.

Aside from socializing and honoring the parents-to-be, the main event at a baby shower is often opening the gifts. If there's no registry and guests need help figuring out what to bring, have them check out these baby shower gift ideas.

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Ultimately, how you plan a baby shower and what you do is less important than showing the parent- or parents-to-be how much you love and care about them. Focus on what will make them happy and you can't go wrong.

Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

The Emily Post Institute. Undated. Baby Showers: Welcoming the New Baby. a new window [Accessed August 2021]

Karisa Ding

Karisa Ding is a freelance health writer and editor with expertise in preconception, pregnancy, and parenting content. A mother of two, Ding finds great joy in supporting new and expectant parents by providing information they need for the life-changing journey ahead. Ding lives in San Francisco with her family.