– Etiquette Guide – When Are Baby Gifts Required?

A baby’s entry into the world is definitely a cause for celebration, but with all the different parties and occasions, it’s not always clear when you’re expected to give a baby gift. You may be invited to multiple gatherings, so when should you bring a gift? And what is the etiquette of baby gift-giving?

Below is our comprehensive list of baby occasions and our guide to when you should give a gift.

1.  Baby Shower – Yes, if you attend

The baby shower is the most well-known baby event, and if you attend the baby shower, you should bring a gift. However, if you cannot (or don’t want to) attend the shower, you do not need to send a gift for the shower.

In other words, please don’t have your gift shipped for opening at the shower, as it’s not fair to ask the hostess to keep track of that for you. But if you want to ensure your present arrives before the baby is born, have the gift sent directly to the mom-to-be at her home.

You can also wait until the baby is born to send a gift to their home, or take a gift when you visit mama and baby.

gender reveal
Image Courtesy of Jasmine Alley

2.  The Gender Reveal – No

Show your support for “Team Pink” or “Team Blue” at this highly anticipated (maybe even competitive) fun, baby-centered party. Bringing a gift is not required or expected- your presence is your present!

sip n see
Image Courtesy of Shining On Design

3.   A Sip & See  – Maybe

There are two types of Sip & Sees:

  • The most common Sip & See resembles a casual open house, with light refreshments, where family and friends can come and meet the new baby. This type of Sip & See is often planned for a second or third child. Bringing a gift to this event is optional, and it is perfectly acceptable to drop by and give your heartfelt congratulations.
  • The second type of Sip & See is arranged in lieu of a baby shower. The baby has arrived, but a shower was not possible, as in the case of an adoption or early arrival. I hosted a Sip & See for a friend when she adopted a sweet baby boy, and gifts were part of the celebration.

If you receive an invitation to a Sip & See and need clarification, I recommend reaching out to the hostess.

silver frame

4.  Baby’s Christening, Baptism, or Dedication – Usually

Attending a religious event for a new baby can be a very precious and intimate moment to share with the newly blessed family. For some religions, it is considered acceptance into the church and very sacred, but for others, it is more of a naming or dedication ceremony. A gift is customary for a Catholic Christening but not required for a Protestant baptism or dedication.

Additionally, the gift to celebrate a religious ceremony is not a traditional baby gift but is usually spiritual or religious in nature and presented at the reception following the baptism.

Thoughtful ways to offer congratulations include a first Bible, a cross pendant, or a picture frame with a blessing, Bible verse, or prayer. Gifts of silver represent a wish for prosperity and are also customary for these types of events.

Silver spoons and cups are beautiful keepsakes, but if you lean toward the practical, here is a gift I recently purchased for a friend for a Protestant dedication. It has a biblical theme but can be played with by the little one.

Noah’s Arc Play Set from Pottery Barn Kids
Noah’s Arc Play Set from Pottery Barn Kids

5.  Visiting Baby for the First Time – Maybe

This is an excellent time to bring a gift for the new baby. However, If you already bought a gift for the baby shower or sent a gift ahead of time, it’s unnecessary to bring another gift for your first visit unless you just want to. (Some people, like me, love baby things and use any excuse to buy them.)

If you don’t want to show up empty-handed, consider coming with coffee or treats (ask mom about her favorites!), a basket of snacks, or a home-cooked meal for the busy, sleep-deprived new parents.

Search for a Baby Gift

Whenever you decide to give a baby gift, you can easily find all their baby registries on RegistryFinder.com. It’s not required, but always appreciated when you choose a gift from the registry!

Did we miss an occasion? Please let us know by email or comment below.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. The ideas are ours, but we may be compensated if you make a purchase by clicking on one of the links. Thanks for your support!

5 thoughts on “Etiquette Guide: When Are Baby Gifts Required?

  1. I spent $60+ on gifts for the gender reveal (specific diapers that were requested). No baby shower (3rd child) but still sent me a registry link. I’m slightly offended. My husband doesn’t want to send another gift and I’m not entirely disagreeing. But I haven’t responded after she sent the link, at a loss of words with how to respond.

    1. Dear L,

      I understand why you feel taken aback and unsure how to respond. And I’m curious; under what circumstances did the mom-to-be send you a registry link? Does it even require a response?

      From an etiquette standpoint, you are only “obligated” to give a baby gift if you attend a baby shower. Many like to give a gift after the baby is born, but only if you choose to. You certainly don’t have to buy someone a baby gift just because they sent you a link to their registry, but I appreciate why you feel pressured to do so.

      Your husband’s response is perfectly normal. You have already shown her your support with a gift, and it’s absolutely fine not to give another one.

      You can be gracious even when your friend or family member commits a surprising etiquette breach. (Soliciting gifts is definitely a faux pas.) You can respond, “Thank you for the info.” This response doesn’t require you to use the registry information.

      If you don’t plan to give another traditional baby gift, simply ignore her request. Another idea is to offer help after the baby is born. You could buy a gift for the older siblings so they don’t feel left out or do something to help the new parents, such as offering babysitting, a home-cooked meal, or a meal delivery service.

  2. Thanks for the reply, its been helpful. I like, “thanks for the info” response.

  3. Hi,
    Are we obligated to send a gift after the baby’s born even after we gave a shower gift.

  4. Hi Melinda,
    No, generally, you either give a gift at the baby shower or after the baby is born.

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