Baby Shower Etiquette FAQs

Last Updated: April 12, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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There are a lot of questions surrounding baby shower etiquette these days. And I think that’s largely because more and more people are having “alternative” type baby showers (which we’re SO here for by the way).

But even so, we thought we’d help you better understand what’s traditional and not when it comes to baby showers and baby shower etiquette in general.

So if you’re attending a baby shower, throwing a baby shower, hosting a baby shower, or planning for your own baby shower – I’ve got you, girl!!

I’m here to fill you in on all things baby shower! Today I’m answering all of your baby shower etiquette FAQs, so let’s get down to it! 

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Who throws the baby shower?

Short answer is, anyone! Yep, you heard that right, anyone can throw a baby shower for someone! Just because anyone can doesn’t mean that anyone will though. So, if you are a family member or a good friend of the mama-to-be, don’t assume someone else is doing it.

I said anyone can throw a baby shower, but if you are a close relative or close friend of the expecting mama (and you feel up to it)- I would recommend getting your planning wheels turnin’. 

Planning or throwing a baby shower doesn’t mean you have to physically host it at your house. And it doesn’t mean you have to throw it solo either. Planning simply could mean that you, along with some others, organize and iron out the details of the shower. 

Related Reading: Baby Shower Games and Activities: Your Guide to the Perfect Day!

Can you throw your own shower?

You absolutely can throw your own baby shower! It’s not typically how that process goes. But, honestly? There are no hard and fast rules about who can and can’t throw a baby shower. 

I’m team, “do whatever makes you happy!”. So if throwing your own baby shower makes you happy then more power to you, mama-to-be!

Should the mom-to-be be involved in planning the shower?

I think it’s ultimately up to the mama-to-be whether or not she wants to be involved in planning the shower.

Speaking from personal experience I would say most moms-to-be have pretty minimal involvement in the planning process.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t be more involved if you want to be! Just don’t stress yourself out over all the little details, you’ve got enough on your plate!

Who pays for the baby shower?

Typically the people hosting cover the cost of the shower. There are exceptions to every rule though!

Is it wrong for those hosting to not to cover the cost? Wrong isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe it. But typically if you sign up to host something, contributing to the cost is an implied responsibility.

Who should you invite to a baby shower?

Who should be invited to a baby shower is ultimately up to the mama-to-be. This is her day, her shower, and she’s the star of the show(er)! I would venture to say this particular topic doesn’t stir up too much trouble for the majority of people. But when it is an issue, look out!

At the end of the day, the expecting mama should have the final word on who should be invited to her baby shower!

When should the baby shower happen?

There’s really no wrong time to have a baby shower, but there are times that are more popular than others. A lot of mamas-to-be prefer to wait until early third trimester (ish). If mama is at an increased risk for preterm birth, or has any other risks that may result in early delivery, earlier might make sense.

Having a shower between weeks 28-32-ish give mom enough time to put her registry together and recover from that first trimester fog. It also ensures enough time (hopefully) to organize the nursery, closet, dresser, and everything else with the gifts she receives at the shower. 

You don’t want to have a shower too close to a due date and risk the shower not taking place or not being able to get all the nesting completed prior to baby’s arrival. 

When should invitations be sent?

You want to make sure the hosts get responses back with plenty of time to plan, organize, and make arrangements. In order to do most of these things, an accurate headcount is needed.

To ensure guests have enough time to receive their invitations and mail (if not an electronic invitation) their response back, I would recommend sending invitations at least 4 weeks (but more like 4-6 weeks) prior to the shower. 

This gives the guests a couple of weeks to get those responses back and then the hosts at least a couple weeks to finish up all the details and planning!

For larger or more formal events, you may want to aim for 6-8 weeks out fo sending invitations.

Baby Registry Guide

Should there be party favors?

Most of the baby showers that I have attended have given guests some kind of edible party favor. Usually it’s a fancy little cookie or a sweet treat, but I honestly wouldn’t put too much time, effort, or money into this one.

I would say the majority of people don’t attend baby showers expecting to be handed a treat or party favor at the end. It’s a nice little touch if time and budget allows, but don’t lose sleep over party favors. 

Related Listen: Episode 68: The Labor Games!

Is it okay to serve alcohol at a baby shower?

I think this is more of a personal question, and the mama-to-be should make the ultimate decision. Obviously the guest of honor won’t be imbibing, but some showers offer mimosas or a fun, little, celebratory alcoholic beverage. 

I have attended baby showers that served alcohol and baby showers that didn’t serve alcohol. I am here to tell you that it really doesn’t make a big difference!

Along the same lines as the party favors, if time and the budget allows for mimosas or alcohol (and mama-to-be is on board), go for it but don’t stress yourself too much with this one!

Should the mom-to-be open gifts?

I know I said this about some of the other topics but this one really and truly is up to the mama-to-be! Nobody (and I mean nobody!) should force her to open gifts at the baby shower unless she wants to. I know plenty of people that get very uncomfortable opening gifts in front of people and having lots of attention on them so be respectful of whatever she decides to do.

Can you have a baby shower for second or third babies?

Yes, you can absolutely have a baby shower if you are pregnant with your second, third, etc. baby! Usually baby showers for mamas that have given birth before are more commonly referred to as a baby sprinkle. Pretty cute, isn’t it?

I will add that usually people don’t go “all out” for a baby shower if it’s for a second or third baby but here are my thoughts on it – to each their own! There’s a good chance the mama wouldn’t need all the gear but some things might need to be updated if it’s been a few years and…diapers!! An expecting mama can always use diapers and wipes!

And if baby #2 or #3 is a different sex than your first baby or babies then you might be in need of some new baby clothes too. Who doesn’t love picking out baby clothes? Again, a baby sprinkle is not by any means a must but also not frowned upon either. You are the star of the show, mama, you decide what is most appropriate for you and makes you the most comfortable!

Wrapping Up

I hope I have answered all of your baby shower etiquette questions (and more!) You can now consider yourself a baby shower expert, right?! I know I have hit you with a lot of information in this article but if you are thirsty for more pregnancy and birth related content, I’ve got you covered! Below you will find links to just a few of my many resources. If you have a pregnant friend, coworker, family member, or acquaintance in your life, be sure to share the knowledge. Our team at Mommy Labor Nurse strives to help all mamas feel less anxious, more prepared, and excited to give birth!

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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