Food, gifts, guys — and life advice for the new parents
By JD Lasica
BabyCenter managing editor
When our friend Catherine called and offered to host a baby shower, my six-months-pregnant wife knew me well enough to say, “JD will want to be a part of this, too.”
‘Twasn’t always so. Not long ago, baby showers were still deemed off-limits to men. The custom, after all, grew out of an era when midwives delivered most babies and women formed close bonds during the birthing process. Men at traditional baby showers? No, thank you, not with the field reports we got from the front lines suggesting rituals and practices that were, frankly, a little scary.
But times are changing — and so are baby showers.
Baby showers — not just for women anymore
“We’re seeing a lot more coed showers these days,” says Melanie Mandracchia-Blakemore, banquet manager at Presidential Caterers in Norristown, Pennsylvania. “They tend to be like a small family party. There’s definitely less of an emphasis on games, on putting bows from the gifts on hats or doing some of the frilly things you see a lot of at women-only parties. At coed showers, it’s about catching up with family members or friends, and the food becomes the main issue. Don’t think you’ll get by with a chicken Caesar salad and a couple of finger foods — the guys like a big spread.”
Men at the new breed of baby showers? Absolutely. Just as men are active participants in childbirth classes and in the delivery room, many of us want to be at the table when the community comes together to celebrate a new life. It’s a rare opportunity to connect with our partner and our baby — to share our hopes, dreams, and fears in the company of friends and family.
A week before Catherine called, I’d attended my first coed baby shower and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. No paper hats or embarrassing party games. No herd of men retreating to a back room to watch sports or play poker. Just an informal Sunday afternoon affair with toddlers scampering about, a deli spread, cake, a memory book with wishes written by the guests, and the main event: Mike and Patty opening their haul.
The coed shower rulebook
What are the rules of a couples baby shower? Simple:
• If you really want the guys to show, don’t call it a Jack and Jill baby shower. Try this instead: “Power Shower.”
• Rope in a couple of male attendees early on. Trust me: No guy is going to attend a baby shower where he’s the only he. For advice on whom to invite, see our article on drawing up a guest list.
• Invite the couple to register for the baby shower at a store or online at BabyCenter’s easy-to-use Gift Registry.
• Make the invitations guy-friendly. Go easy on the pink. And give plenty of notice. Remember, we guys reserve most weekends to play with our power tools. See BabyCenter’s baby shower invitations article for types and timing of invitations.
• Pass on the party favors, unless it’s a small gathering. But whatever you decide, realize that most guys don’t find the idea of jellybeans in a baby bottle all that adorable.
• Games? If you do have them, make sure there’ll be games that guys will get into, too. We liked these reader suggestions.
• When it’s time to open gifts, make sure the couple opens them together or takes turns.
• Bring on the food!
We also invited our readers to offer suggestions based on their own experiences, and they came up with their own recommendations on couples baby showers.
Parenting advice from those in the know
At our shower, held a month before her due date, Mary put the kibosh on some of the more popular traditional shower games such as Guess the Girth. “Nobody’s gonna be measuring my belly,” she declared. So Catherine organized an early-evening party of hors d’oeuvres, wine, cake, and the main event: presents! We loved everything, from silly little Pooh shorts and crib light to the layettes, room monitor, playpen, crib, and darling bassinet. (You can see the linked items at the BabyCenter Store.)
But there should be more to this tradition than food, gift giving, and convivial conversation. Our host gathered the entire group in a circle in the living room and asked everyone to offer some words of wisdom to the new parents. The experience was moving, and instructive. Here’s what some of them told us:
Tony: “Don’t make the same mistake I did for six months after the baby was born. Once he’s here, remember to show up from work – at 5 p.m., not 8 p.m.”
Bill: “If you get a colicky baby, a million people will give you advice on how to make him sleep at night. Just remember one thing: There is no sure-fire cure, but time conquers all.”
Terri: “When you’re in the hospital and the family arrives and everyone’s making demands on you and the baby, remember one thing: This is your time, and they should respect that.”
Diane: “Nurture his creative side. Let him go after what he wants to do in his heart. If he wants to grow up to be an artist, support him in that. If he wants to go off to a different part of the world and become a musician, let him follow his bliss. Embrace his independence.”
Kevin: “Read to your children. I relish the time I spent reading with my two kids. You’ll read the same books over and over again with them, but boy, it’s a precious time.”
Jim: “Remember everything they do. We were just talking last night about who was funnier as a baby, Katie or Angela, because our oldest is very serious now and the youngest is just a laugh riot. But when they were babies, it was just the opposite: Katie loved nursery rhymes, and she loved to say, ‘Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a big fall, all the king’s horses, and all the king’s horses, couldn’t hump together.’ So, remember everything they say – and remind them when they get older.”
Peggy: “Give Bobby some music lessons, and take him to lots of ballgames. I loved going to ballgames as a kid and I still love seeing families with their kids at ballgames.”
Parts of this article originally appeared on BabyCenter.com.