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The Second-Baby Baby Shower Question

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

You’re great and I love your advice. I’ve scoured the internet and polled my friends and no one can give me a definitive answer. I’m pregnant with my second child and due at the beginning of July. I have a two year old son and I just found out that I’m having a baby girl! Could not be more excited! My question is simple…should I have a shower for Baby Girl or is that tacky?


I’ll explain my thoughts and then you can tell me what to do, ok? I promise I will do whatever you advise.

My thoughts, in no particular order…

-am I shortchanging Baby Girl by not having a party for her? She’s already going to be using her big Brother’s hand-me-down items for big ticket stuff and the second child rarely gets the fanfare that the first did.

-if I do have a shower should I put on the invitation “no gifts”? But people want to buy gifts and frankly, there are a few things that I do want and I would rather have stuff that I actually need/want rather than a bunch of crap people bought because I gave them no ideas. For example, I want to cloth diaper this time around and I would love if people would by a diaper cover or such rather than 14 of the same teeny tiny tshirts.

-if I do have a shower, should I invite only a handful of people? But what if others find out about it and think that I didn’t want them there? Really, I just don’t want people to feel obligated to buy me a gift. But again, no ideas/baby registry could lead to craptastic gifts.

-I actually don’t have any little girl stuff nor do I have piles of money to buy little girl stuff. I’m totally fine with using boy-themed swings and bouncers and the like but I can’t very well dress Baby Girl in the same things her brother wore. I mean really, there’s frugality and then there’s just meanness.

Bottom line, I feel like Baby Girl’s birth should be celebrated just the same as we celebrated for my son. I just don’t want people to think I’m a gift whore.

Please help me. My pregnancy brain really can’t take any more of this.

-E

So somewhere along the way in my life, I picked up on the idea that a woman got ONE baby shower, for her first baby, and that was it. Subsequent pregnancies did not get a shower, and to do otherwise was tacky. I honestly have NO IDEA who told me this or why I clung to it like gospel, because OH WAS I EVER CORRECTED during my second pregnancy.

Many people suggested it’s a regional thing, since in the South, every baby gets a shower, no matter what. And multiple showers, if geography prevents anyone from traveling to one central location. I wonder if it’s different for people who view the shower for what it really is — a PARTY, a celebration of mother and baby — versus people who do see baby showers primarily as gift grab extravaganzas, where it’s all about the baby registry and not much else.
Anyway, I have come around on second baby showers. Like you said, second- and third- and etc.-born babies don’t quite get the fanfare of first-born, and there is nothing EVER routine or humdrum about the birth of a new baby. And on the practical side, stuff gets broken, lost, or given away. Plus, you’re having a girl. I think your friends and family understand that you might want a few non-blue items around. (My family’s been waiting for someone to have another baby girl for 21 years now. Instead, we’ve had a total of six boy grandchildren. If a girl ever does arrive, hoo boy, it’s gonna look like a Pepto Bismol hurricane flew through the house.)

But. BUT BUT BUT. Here is what is still considered rude and tacky: Throwing yourself a shower. Sending out the invites yourself, having it at your house, or anything that suggests you organized it. Some formal etiquette sticklers also extend this to immediate family, like mothers and sisters, but this has mostly fallen out of fashion and isn’t a big deal anymore. Throwing your own shower, however, is still a big old NO.

(My second shower was SUPPOSED to be a surprise, with Tracey plotting with my husband about how best to get me to put together an Amazon wish list or something without me knowing why…but that got ruined when my husband asked me to find an email for him on his phone and I accidentally saw a subject line like AMY’S SHOWER SHHHH!! And then the invite was online and I linked to it because it was kind of an unusual Mostly Internet People Thing involving Another Event That I Was Already Supposed To Invite People To. And some people thought that was terribly tacky and gift-grubby and told me so to my face. Er, to my blog comment section. However, as any mildly good etiquette-conscious person knows, telling someone that they’ve broken an etiquette “rule” is generally considered to be even worse. So there. Or something. In other words, I get that real-life tends to be a lot more complicated than the etiquette books allow for.)

Your email isn’t clear on this point, though. Has someone offered to throw you a shower? If so, tell them you’re up for it and let them take the lead about shower location, how many people to invite, what to include on the invitations. Then you go ahead and register at a baby store and a cloth diaper website and share the info with your shower organizer. It’s her responsibility to pass it along to guests…IF THEY ASK. (I’m really still not a fan of invitations arriving with registry info printed on them, but realize I’m slowly becoming a minority in that. It’s convenient for both guest and hostess, yes, but also TOTALLY WHY wedding and baby showers are getting this bad, grabby reputation.)

I’m predicting most people will bypass your baby registry and buy you baby clothes though. Probably lots of tiny pink girly ones. Just a hunch.
If someone hasn’t offered to throw you a shower, you have two choices.

1) You put all of this on the back burner and proceed as if you will not be having one. No registry, though it’s completely fine to give specific ideas (cloth diapers, clothing, other essentials) to people who ask. Perhaps someone will offer closer to your due date; perhaps not, if you do live in an area where second baby showers just “aren’t done.”

2) You ask someone — or a couple, to minimize the responsibility load — to organize a shower on your behalf. Plenty of women do this. Emphasize your desire to celebrate Baby Girl, not your need for New Stuff. If they agree, you hand over the reigns and proceed as I described above. Collaborate on the guest list and size, give them your registry info, let them handle the invites and everything else.

One last option: it’s becoming really common for the second (or third or whatever) baby shower to be a “couples shower.” Instead of the traditional flock of women oohing and aahing over twee little clothes, you have a party that includes spouses and already-born children. Sometimes these don’t happen until after the baby is born. I like these, since they just seem so much less about the gifts and more about the entire family. If you feel strange about asking someone to organize a shower, you can TOTALLY THROW A PARTY like this and just leave the word “shower” out of it.

Go ahead and create some pink invites that say something else: We’re celebrating Big Brother and the upcoming arrival of Baby Sister! Send it to friends and include spouses and children’s names on the envelopes and NO REGISTRY INFO. “No gifts” is certainly an appropriate, polite option (and one that will be ignored by exactly half the guests, making the other half feel stupid and WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT? AT LEAST GIVE THE GIFT OUT OF SIGHT OF PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED DIRECTIONS GAH.). Then have everybody over for a big ol’ barbecue or something, and promise me you won’t make anyone play the melted-chocolate-bar-in-a-diaper game.

Photo by Aine D

Published March 12, 2010. Last updated March 27, 2018.
Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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