Essential Baby Shower Etiquette for Hosts and Guests

A baby shower is a special occasion to celebrate the mom-to-be and the new baby who will soon join her family. The term “shower” is thought to refer to the new mother’s circle gathering together to shower her with gifts and love before the birth. Because the day is so momentous, there are many etiquette factors to consider for both hosts and guests. After all, we want a baby shower to be memorable for all the right reasons!

Let’s start by examining some common etiquette questions for baby shower hosts.


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Who Should Plan a Baby Shower?

Just about anyone who knows and loves the mom-to-be can hold a baby shower, and many new mothers are celebrated with multiple showers—for instance, one at the workplace and one with family and friends. The purpose of a shower is both to celebrate and to supply the family with baby gifts they will need. Traditionally, showers are thrown by a female friend or family member, but today’s showers might be thrown by the father or even by the mom-to-be herself.

When Should a Baby Shower Be Held?

Baby showers are generally held between the sixth and eighth months of pregnancy. As much as the idea of a surprise shower might be appealing, it is important to consult with the mom-to-be as you schedule the shower, as she probably has plenty on her schedule as her pregnancy advances. Since you want to make the shower as stress-free as possible for her, you may wish to also consult with other close family members on the date.

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Who Should Be Invited To a Baby Shower? 

The invitation list depends on the type of shower you are planning. Generally, close friends and family members are invited to a baby shower, and a long tradition of showers involves female guests only. But today’s showers have many styles. You might choose to plan a women-only event (think, raunchy, funny, and honest), a fancier cocktail-style co-ed event (think, mimosas in an elegant venue), or a family-friendly shower with activities planned for kids, too. You might also consider offering to use video technology to welcome some distant guests who are unable to travel, or even to plan a fully virtual shower. Whatever the style of shower, consult with the guest of honor, who will help you to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anyone. 

How Should Guests Be Invited to a Baby Shower?

Aim to send out shower invitations at least four weeks ahead of the event, in order to give guests time to coordinate their schedules and shop for newborn gifts. If you have guests who may need to travel long distances, even more notice will be appreciated. 

The shower invitation should include the mom-to-be’s name and the host’s name; the shower date, time, and place; the RSVP contact; the registry information; and any special instructions, like attire or something special to bring. Although formal snail-mail invitations are stylish, many shower planners now use web-based invitations. If you opt for digital, make sure to find out the contact information for any guests who do not use email—there will usually be at least one. Never publicly post a shower invitation on social media, for obvious reasons. 

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How Should You Handle a Baby Shower Registry?

Creating the registry should be fun—not stressful—for the mom-to-be, so encourage her to begin a paper-and-pencil list as soon as necessities or unique newborn baby gift ideas occur to her. It is generally a good idea to wait to officially register until after 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the risk of miscarriage drops considerably. Some shower planning websites now offer multiple retailers in one place, while individual baby retailers also maintain robust inventories and registry planning resources. 

It’s a good idea to include a robust variety of items in various price ranges on your baby registry. This allows shower guests to pick or combine gifts that fit their budgets.

What Activities Should You Plan for a Baby Shower?

Food, drink, and time to open gifts are the essentials of a baby shower. Beyond that, the activities you plan should suit the style of the guest of honor, and show both her personality and yours. There are plenty of shower games like baby bingo with prizes, or shower crafts like decorating onesies for the new infant. Some hosts like to plan activities designed to share advice with the mom-to-be, like advice cards or a message wall. It is a general tradition that the mom-to-be, hostess, dad-to-be, and grandparents will offer short speeches near the end of the shower. Finally, make sure to send your guests off with shower favors. Keep these within whatever budget you have established, as any gesture is usually appreciated.

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How Should You Handle Thank You Notes?

During the shower, the host should designate someone to record who gave each gift, so the mom-to-be has an accurate record when she plans her thank you notes. Shower hosts will sometimes prepare notes with pre-addressed envelopes to make things simple on the mom-to-be. She should send these notes within two to three weeks after the shower, although if the baby arrives early, it’s okay to take a little longer or even to send notes along with birth announcements.

What etiquette should shower guests keep in mind after they receive an invitation?

How Should You Respond to a Shower Invitation?

One way or another, make sure that you RSVP before the deadline. The host needs to plan for food, drink, games, and favors, all while staying within budget. If you are unable to attend, a “no” with a thoughtful note will be much appreciated by the host. 

Should You Bring a Gift To a Baby Shower?

Usually, a baby shower invitation will include registry information. If registry information is listed, you should bring a gift—but the gift does not necessarily have to be from the registry. You should feel free to shop around and choose a gift that will work both for you and the mom-to-be—something practical and adorable is always welcomed by a new mom. Sometimes, shower guests will combine their wallets to purchase one of the more expensive registry items. 

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If the invitation specifies “no gifts”—more common when multiple showers are planned or for second or third children—honor that request. You do not want the awkwardness of arriving at a shower as the only guest with a gift. If you want to give the mom-to-be a gift anyhow, share that gift personally at another time.

Should You Bring Your Kids To a Baby Shower?

You should only bring your kids to a baby shower if the invitation specifies that they are invited. The host may not have planned activities to keep children entertained. 

Should You Participate in Shower Activities?

Participate enthusiastically! Even if shower games seem a little awkward, the host put in considerable effort to arrange the day. If you do not know many of the other guests, a day of semi-structured activities is a perfect way to make some new friends through sharing the experience. However, don’t be too enthusiastic. If alcohol is served at a baby shower, take care not to over-indulge. Not only would it be even more awkward to be the only inebriated guest, the host probably arranged for only a limited amount of drinks. 

Should You Linger After the Baby Shower?

No matter how wonderful the shower is, the mom-to-be and host will likely be very tired by the end of the event. Typically, there is an ending time on the invitation, and this is your cue to pack up and get ready to leave, no matter how tempted you may be to linger and reminisce. Respect the time and energy that it took to arrange the event by making a thoughtful and on-time exit. 

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With all of these tips in mind, you are set to share an enjoyable baby shower experience with an important mom-to-be in your life. Most importantly, remember that she is the guest of honor, and make this a special day for all guests to show their care, support, and appreciation.