Baby Shower Etiquette - Rules to Party By

Baby Shower Etiquette for All Involved

I love baby showers. I can’t get enough of those cute baby clothes and practical gadgets – not to mention the champagne and girly foods. But I know some of you may not be as excited when a baby shower invitation arrives in your inbox or mailbox. Whether you love them or hate them or haven’t yet been to one, baby showers are a fact of life. You will likely encounter several during your lifetime in one way or another- as the guest of honor, guest, or host.

I get a lot of questions concerning baby shower etiquette. Whether you are a mom-to-be, a potential shower host, or have been invited to a baby shower, here are baby shower guidelines that will help you navigate this unique event.

Baby Shower Etiquette for the Host

  • Baby showers should be hosted by a close friend or extended relative (cousin, aunt, etc.), preferably not an immediate family member, although that has become more acceptable in recent years. Never (and I mean NEVER) give yourself a baby shower.
  • Send the invitations at least 3-4 weeks before the baby shower.
  • Traditional etiquette states that baby gift registry information should not be included on the invitation but enclosed on a separate card. However, it seems to be the trend that shower hosts now print it on the invitation.
  • If this is your first time hosting a baby shower, check out our 10 Expert Tips for Hosting Your First Baby Shower to help you plan a successful event.

Baby Shower Etiquette for the Guests

  • RSVP as soon as possible.
  • If you are attending the shower, you should bring a gift. However, you do not need to send a gift if you can’t be there. Need help with your gift card? Use our guide on what to write in a baby shower card or baby gift card.
  • While buying something from their baby gift registry is convenient and thoughtful, it’s not a requirement. You can find all of mom’s baby registries at RegistryFinder.com. No registry? May we suggest one of these baby gifts if she does not have a registry? They’re sure to be a hit!
  • Be polite and good-natured.
    1. Baby shower games may be silly, but be a good sport and participate.
    2. Say positive things to the expectant mother such as, “You’re glowing!” or “Pregnancy looks great on you!” and stay far away from anything negative such as “You’re so big!” or “Having twins?” Women in the last months of pregnancy already feel huge; you don’t need to remind them.
    3. Don’t tell labor and delivery horror stories. It’s not the time or place.
baby shower game
My least favorite Baby Shower game! But I smile and play along anyway.

Baby Shower Etiquette for the Guest of Honor

  • Do not ask someone to give you a baby shower. It’s a big commitment of time and money on the part of the host. If someone offers, then you can graciously accept. If not, don’t worry! You will probably receive plenty of gifts when the baby is born.
  • Meet with your host to discuss her venue and vision before extending any verbal invitations to your friends or co-workers. She may need or want to keep it small, and she will likely ask you for a guest list. You should discuss how many quests she would like to invite. 
  • Do not make demands or obsess over the details of your shower. If the hostess asks for your input, give it. Otherwise, allow her to take care of the planning. Sit back, relax and enjoy your special day!
  • Try to send handwritten thank-you notes within two weeks of the baby shower and before the baby comes, as you won’t have as much time after the baby arrives. Thank-you notes are mailed to each gift-giver even if you have thanked them in person at the shower. Not sure what to say in your thank-you note? We have included excellent samples in this blog post! And don’t forget to write a special thank you to your hostess(es).

Please comment below if you have any additional baby shower questions or funny baby shower stories. We’d love to hear from you!

recently updated by Cheryl Seidel, August 2022

13 thoughts on “Baby Shower Etiquette – Rules to Party By

  1. I recently received two different baby shower invitations for the same couple. They were both family invitations, one from the mother’s side of the family and one from the father’s side of the family. I am related to the father’s side of the family. I have bought a gift but am unsure of the protocol when two invitations are received. I prefer to buy only one gift. Please enlighten me as to what is acceptable? Thanks for a great article.

    1. Hi Alonna,
      Thank you! If you receive multiple shower invitations, whether baby or wedding, you need only attend one of the showers. If you feel you should attend more than one (maybe you are a close family member), then it’s only necessary to purchase one gift and usually take it to the first shower you attend. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline one of the invitations. You might say, “I’ve already been invited to another shower and feel I should attend that one because the hostess is my cousin.” (Just an example.)

  2. Are there any “rules” about the amount of time in between a first child’s shower and a shower for the second child? For example, you have your first child and then get pregnant and have your second child all in one year… If you have a boy and your next is a girl, would it be okay to have the second shower so soon?

    1. Hi Melnee, There are no “rules” about the amount of time between baby showers. It would be fine to agree to a shower for your second child, especially since it’s a different gender. Life happens and if a friend wants to give you a baby shower for your second child, then that’s perfectly acceptable. Any mom with two babies needs all the help she can get, right?

  3. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate the articles on your site.

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  5. This website is… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thank you!

  6. There should only be ONE shower. This was never meant to be a way to celebrate a specific child, it was to celebrate the new parents. New generations have turned it into a “every child deserves to be celebrated” excuse to have their friends and family fund their choices in life. the baby shower given to an expectant mother and/or father is meant to start them off into the new world of parenthood. anything else, no matter how you spin it, is greed and nothing else.

    1. I agree, baby shower should be for the first baby. When the parents send a birth announcement, for the second baby you have a choice to send a gift or not. If it is ok to have baby showers for every baby, shouldn’t we have Bridal shower every five or ten years to replace towels, sheets, pots and pans?

  7. Is it appropriate to have a gift from the registry shipped to the party address?

    1. Hi Karen,

      Usually, you would have the gift shipped to yourself and then take it to the baby shower. However, if you can’t attend and want to send a gift, you can contact the hostess and clear it with them. Let her know to expect the gift, and it would probably be fine.

  8. So if no one asks to host a shower should the parents to be just not have one? I’m 25 weeks and no one offered so we had started planning a small celebration since this is our first little one.

    1. Hi Kali,

      No, expectant parents should never host a baby shower. It’s something that should be done for you, and otherwise, it seems tacky, like a money or gift grab. The purpose of a baby shower is for your community (your friends, family, or co-workers) to “shower” you with gifts. Just because no one has offered yet, doesn’t mean they won’t or that your friends and relatives don’t care about you. I understand it may be disappointing, but it’s not a requirement to have a baby shower.

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