Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Basics of Baby Showers

Baby Showers: Origins and evolution until the Present day

Baby showers have for a long time been used as an occasion to congratulate the parents of a new born or a pending baby. The 'shower' refers to the fact that gifts are metaphorically “showered”, or rather presented, to the expecting mother. Gifts may include clothes, baby bottles and many toys. Originally, baby showers were held only for the first born child and attended by women. It was viewed as an opportunity to advise the new or prospective mother on the basics of motherhood, giving her health tips and advice on how to raise her baby.
Different cultures celebrated baby showers in different ways. It is actually linked to ancient rituals of fertility when the cycle of life and death held a deeper significance than it is today.
Baby showers before or after the birth?
It is far from uncommon for couples to discover the sex of their baby before birth by doing a baby gender test. Baby gender testing can be done with fun at home tests such as the Cabbage test, the Drano test, the wedding ring test or the Chinese calendar or else by means of simple, yet highly accurate genetic DNA testing done either with maternal urine or a maternal blood sample which can be collected by means of a finger prick. Sometimes, moms prefer organizing baby showers knowing what the sex of their baby will be. This way they can either choose to tell their guests, helping them select gifts based upon what the sex of the baby will be, or perhaps surprise their guests with a cake or muffins coated in blue or pink icing.
Baby showers vary from country to country
 Many countries have rituals for honoring pregnancy around the world and celebrating the birth-to-be of the baby. In China baby showers were held a month after the baby's birth. Given the high mortality rate in those days, a baby was deemed fit for a celebration after surviving the first month. In Brazil the shower is also held one month after the birth, and is mostly attended by the women of the family.
During 19th century times, Victorian women also began hosting baby showers for expecting mothers, these showers were characterized by umbrellas, as they were afternoon garden affairs. 
In many African countries huge social pressures are placed on couples to have a baby. Couples that choose or cannot have children are viewed negatively. Pregnancy is seen as a reincarnation of past ancestors, brought again to existence through the new birth of a child. Pregnant women are given as much rest as possible, often the house chores are taken over by their mother and the pregnant woman is given an amount of food suitable for two people. Strangers in the community also give a helping hand. In cultures where husbands have more than one wife, pregnancy becomes a special moment when the husband diverts all his attention to his expectant wife.

Planning a Baby Shower

Over the years, baby showers have largely remained very much a female thing. Although modern versions include men, the planning is mostly reserved for the women. Sisters, cousins, friends and colleagues come together to organize a surprise party for the mother-to-be. The most appropriate time to hold a baby shower is some time during the last trimester, when the baby is just weeks away. In most cases, a friend or member of the family will volunteer to host the event. Holding the baby shower at the house of the mother-to-be will task her with the burden of hosting guests and cleaning up afterwards, while the baby shower is required to be a time for her to enjoy attention and gifts. Alternatively, a venue can be hired.
The guest list includes close friends and relatives, mostly women. The partners can also come along especially if the prospective father actually wishes to participate. The gifts consist of baby items like clothes, toys, blankets and other utilities. The parents can also be presented with relevant gifts such as books on parenting and magazine subscriptions amongst the heaps of advice and tips given by friends and relatives.
Baby Shower Games

Baby showers are meant to be fun and memorable. After all the chatting on baby related issues, some games will make a perfect conclusion for the occasion. Since an expectant mother will not much physical activity and is not expected to do anything which might require her to exert an effort, most of the games require least movement and can be played while seated. Some of the favorite games include: Guessing tummy size – In this game, every participant is required to cut a string that they think is equivalent to the size of the expectant mothers’ tummy. The string is then measured against the actual tummy. Some people come close, while others are awfully off the mark. The closest guess wins a prize.
Never mention 'baby': Each guest is given a safety pin at the entrance. Anyone who is heard mentioning the word 'baby' loses the pin to the accuser. The bearer of the most pins becomes the winner.
Baby rhymes: the guests sit in groups and compete in completing baby rhymes which are contained in a kid's book. The group with the most correct answers takes the prize.

There are many more games that can be played at baby showers. Both men and women can play together or they can choose to separate (typically, in many western countries, males do not take part or hold baby showers). At the end of the day it is an enjoyable way of welcoming the couple to the parenting world so no reason why both partners should not partake fully in every aspect of the experience.


Kiersten W. said...

It's really interesting to see how different baby showers can be around the world. I've discussed having a baby shower for my second child and apparently that's a hot topic!