Baby showers are gift-giving events meant to celebrate the expected coming of a baby into a family. Usually, a close friend or family member plans the event for the parents-to-be and takes on the job of creating the guest list with the expectant parents and afterward, sending out the invitations. Parents-to-be and baby shower planners are often left wondering whether or not men should be put on the guestlist or left out.
Historically, baby showers have been an exclusively female affair. Nowadays, men do go to baby showers and dads-to-be are perfectly welcome to celebrate showers with their partners. Male friends and family members making appearances at baby showers have also become increasingly common.
With attitudes towards pregnancy and child care shifting in recent years to include fathers more, men are more likely to be open to the idea of celebrating baby showers. Fathers are also becoming more hands-on parents than ever before – it makes sense for the dad-to-be to take want to take part in celebrating his baby’s arrival.
There are no hard and fast rules to baby showers, and who you want to invite is up to you entirely. Feel free to invite (or disinvite) who you want. If you would like to have men at the baby shower, go ahead and invite them. If you would prefer celebrating a baby shower with women only, that is completely okay too.
Baby Shower History
The earliest forms of baby showers and gift-giving may have emerged in the Middle Ages when gift-giving was overseen by appointed godparents who would give gifts to the baby on the day of their baptism.
Later on, in Renaissance times, new mothers would be gifted with a Desco da parto, or a birth tray painted with intricate pictures and well-wishes for the mother and baby, to symbolize the successful birth of a baby. Because infant and maternal mortality were so common in those times, successful childbirth and motherhood were celebrated lavishly. Because infant and maternal mortality was so common in those times, successful childbirth and motherhood were celebrated lavishly.
The modern tradition of showering expectant mothers with gifts came about during the post-World War 2 baby boom in the 1950s and 1960s when expectant mothers were gifted with household and commodities and goods that could become rather expensive in light of the financial toll that child care brings. The tradition of having a close friend or family member plan the event also originates in this time.
Traditionally, baby showers were exclusively open to women. Aside from being a celebration for an expectant mother, they were seen as an opportunity for women to “talk shop” about pregnancy and childbirth, topics which were back then deemed too intimate to be discussed in the company of men.
Baby Shower Traditions and Etiquettes Today
Modern-day baby showers are casual, intimate gatherings celebrated with close friends and family. Depending on the preferences of the expectant parents, they may be casual events celebrated at home or formal events held at nice venues. And of course, guests are expected to bring a shower-appropriate gift.
What the guest list looks like may also depend on who is throwing the baby shower. A shower thrown among the expectant parents’ friends is more likely to have an equal number of men and women in attendance as friends will likely be close in age and have similar attitudes towards men attending baby showers.
On the other hand, a shower thrown by a family member for family will probably have a male attendance that skews towards the younger generation.
While some people may still prefer to have female-only baby showers, co-ed or mixed-gender baby showers are becoming more and more common, with male relatives and even some of the expectant dad’s friends along for the celebration. Some fathers may even hold their own versions of baby showers, sometimes known as a “dadchelor party” or “diaper party”.
Co-ed Baby Shower Etiquette
Both mom and baby can end up with quite a large haul after a baby shower. Items such as diapers, baby clothes, toys, breast pumps, and luxury items for the mom are all common baby shower gifts.
If you happen to be invited to a co-ed baby shower, consider bringing along a gift for the dad-to-be. Diaper bags and baby carriers made specifically for fathers and even items such as kitchen gadgets and edible treats make great baby shower gifts for fathers.
While moms may share stories and talk about their experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, men may not be as keen on discussing the nitty-gritty details of prenatal and postpartum care.
Chances are, dad is experiencing just as much anxiety around his partner’s pregnancy and may need some coaching on how best to support his partner. One of the advantages of having a co-ed baby shower is getting to have a few veteran fathers in attendance to give the dad-to-be some advice and words of wisdom while the ladies have their own time together.
Food is a must at any gathering, baby shower included. While traditional baby shower food may consist of dainty finger foods and pink and blue baby-themed treats, you may also want to have more substantial eats prepared at a co-ed baby shower.
Consider throwing a backyard cookout-style baby shower and task the dad-to-be with the grilling. This allows him to play a more significant role in the shower and provides him with a nice conversation starter for getting to know some of mom’s friends.
Ideas and Traditions for Co-ed Baby Showers
Have Co-ed Planners and Hosts
Having female and male hosts will bring 2 different perspectives into the plan and help balance out the masculine and feminine aspects of the event, making guests of all genders more likely to feel included on the day itself.
If the female host is a close friend of the mother, try having her male counterpart be a friend of the father to better incorporate elements that both parents will enjoy. Bonus points if the hosts are parents themselves – it can be a big help with planning and hosting if the host and hostess have lived the other side of the event themselves.
Heartier, More Filling Food
While you don’t have to skip out entirely on the dainty pastel cookies and finger sandwiches, try incorporating heavier, more filling foods into the menu. Some menu ideas for co-ed baby showers are backyard barbeques and even buffet-style full lunches.
If mom-to-be is comfortable with it, you can even set up a few beers (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) for the dad-to-be to enjoy with his friends while the expectant mother enjoys a few mocktails.
Traditional baby shower games such as blindfolded baby food tasting and guessing the circumference of mom’s belly with string are outdated and may not be as enjoyable for male guests.
Go for games that couples can play together in teams such as trivia games about the parents-to-be and pacifier beer pong. Guys against girls games like a blindfolded diaper changing challenge on dolls. Other interesting game ideas for men at baby showers include stroller races and baby bottle chugging contests.
Gender Neutral Shower Favors
Not only do shower favors serve as mementos of the event, but they are also a tangible way of thanking guests for coming.
Instead of beauty products and other traditionally feminine party favors, try sending guests home with chocolates or other sweets that everyone can enjoy. Another popular idea for gender-neutral shower favors are personalized honey jars and mini champagne or sparkling juice bottles.