What Are the Rules of Baby Shower Etiquette?

Two friends with pregnant woman looking at baby's clothing, smiling.
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What are the rules of baby shower etiquette? It's something lots of people want to know, and the truth is - it really varies quite a lot. The rules of a baby shower were once written in stone. If you broke the protocol, then your baby shower might be ruined.

As the years have gone on and times have changed, particularly when it comes to having babies, the rules as they pertain to the function of baby showers has really been altered, the so-called baby shower etiquette. In years past what you could and could not do at a baby shower was very clearly spelled out. Today, what makes a baby shower successful is more what the mother-to-be really wants and not much more. While familial ideals do still play a part in this time-honored tradition, many of the hard and fast rules of a few decades ago are certainly rarely more than mere suggestions.

A Few of the Previous Baby Shower Rules

For fun, here is a look at some of what used to be fairly standard baby shower rules. This included when you had a baby shower, who wore what, who was invited, what presents looked like and more. 

What you served depending more on the time of day of your event than the people who were coming or even the preferences of the mother-to-be. If you held a shower from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., you were expected to serve a light lunch, including sandwiches, but it did not need to be hot. If your baby shower were starting after 1 p.m. but prior to 5 p.m., you could get away with snacks and hors-d'oeuvres with cake. Any baby shower that started later would require a hot meal, preferably sit down.

The dessert was always cake, never cupcakes. Heaven forbid that you tried to serve cookies. The cake should be a dazzling cake, preferably white cake, with white icing and something very babyish on the top. Think an old-fashioned pram, crib, or the classic baby blocks.

What Is a Pram?

Often used in British English, pram is another word for a baby stroller or carriage. A traditional pram typically has a flat surface for the baby to lie on, but models that allow the child to sit upright also are referred to as prams.

A baby shower was always a dress-up affair, no matter the time of day. Certainly, the rules slid a bit in the 1970s, and some women wore pants to the party.

Baby shower invitations were formal. They were paper with printed information, and they had reply cards. And under no circumstances should the invitation say where a mother and her family were registered. 

Baby shower games were imperative. They also should involve embarrassment for the mother-to-be. The more embarrassing the better. If you could embarrass a guest or two - all the better.

Baby Showers Today

The good news is that baby shower etiquette has rapidly changed in the last twenty years. The social norms that surrounded this traditionally women's only party have been cracked wide open. That said, there are still some things that people want to know, mostly as leftovers from the dark days of baby showers past. 

So pull out the pants, bring on the cupcakes, ditch the baby shower games, and invite the guys - the baby shower has been reinvented. That said, some still prefer the old-fashioned baby shower, and that's fine if that's the desire of the guest of honor (hint: That's not the grandma.).

More Answers About Baby Shower Etiquette

Here are some of the biggest baby shower etiquette questions and answers, for today's family.

Here is hoping that you have the perfectly amazing baby shower, baby shower etiquette be damned!