SOME say games such as 'guess what bar of chocolate is in the nappy' are a step too far, but Irish mums love this new arrival from the US, says Arlene Harris.
It's long been a tradition in the US and nowadays every WAG and celebrity mother-to-be seems to be getting in on the act and enjoying a lavish baby shower in the weeks leading up to the birth of their child. But it's not just the rich and famous who want to celebrate the imminent arrival of a new baby and having a few hours of fun with your friends before the routine of motherhood begins is quickly becoming popular among women in the capital. With this in mind, we spoke to four women who have either thrown a baby shower for their friend or were on the receiving end, to find out what all the fuss is about.
Secondary school teacher, Cathy Heaney is married to Quentin and they have a nine-month-old daughter, Olivia. The Balinteer woman had a baby shower organised for her just a few weeks before her little girl was born and she was delighted both with the get-together and the presents which helped her to prepare for the new arrival.
"My friend Salla kindly wanted to throw me a baby shower before Olivia was born – I was about 36 weeks pregnant. It wasn't a surprise but I didn't do any of the organising so I've no idea how much work it took to put it together.
"It was lovely and it involved lots of food and drinks and silly games, including 'Guess what chocolate bar has been melted on to the nappy' and lots of predictions, including the baby's birthday, birth weight and time of birth.
"I also got some great gifts for the baby, such as bubble bath, nappies, weaning spoons, clothes, blankets and booties and I also got some treats for me like chocolate, magazines and hand cream. I also got some practical presents like breast pads which were very useful. The other important thing I got that day was some great tips from other mothers.
"I think it is a trend which is becoming more and more popular in Ireland – perhaps it is an American influence or maybe there is more financial ability to be able to do it – but either way I would definitely recommend it."
Debbie Van Tonder is a clinical nurse specialist living in the city centre. Originally from South Africa she has organised a few baby showers for friends as a way of showing her support and letting the mum-to-be let her hair down before D Day.
"I have been given the dubious honour of baby shower organiser on a few occasions and it is usually a surprise party organised by the expectant mummy's family or friends when she is at least 36 weeks pregnant. Often it will be a sister or a best friend who arranges it and the venue is usually in someone's home but it can also be at a small restaurant or even a picnic.
"The ones I've organised were for friends whose families live abroad as I wanted them to feel some support even though they were far from home. As the organiser, I contacted all the guests with the date, venue, time and ideas for gifts. These are usually either a small item for the baby and/ or something for the mummy. The most common gifts would be nappies, creams and clothes and it helps to lessen the financial load which has to be laid out for new baby. The organiser's role also includes 'managing' the list and sending messages if a number of people want to bring the same gift.
"Usually every guest will bring a small plate of food (savoury or sweet) and something to drink (non-alcoholic in respect for the expectant mother). There is often a theme to the party – once we had a 'United Nations' baby shower as the guests were from all over the world and the food was a wonderful mixture of world cuisine.
"The entertainment depends on how well the guests know each other and the personality of the mum, who always has to get dressed up in some baby attire like a bib or a nappy. There is also usually a forfeit game, where people have to do something silly if they get an answer wrong. I think it is becoming more popular in Ireland due to immigrants having baby showers – bringing their cultural practices with them and inviting Irish guests.
"Most of the guests we have invited thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the fun that goes with the game. It is also a lovely way to show support, give a little gift and make new friends. And a really nice touch is that every guest will give a poem, lullaby, prayer or blessing for the new baby. I would certainly recommend having or throwing a baby shower – it's a lovely day for the mother and friends to get together to celebrate a new baby's arrival.
"Some cultures may find it bad luck to have a shower before the baby arrives, in that case they will have the shower after the baby's arrival.
"I have organised a number of baby showers in South Africa and some in Ireland and every time the mum really feels special and loved. After the new baby comes everybody gives her enough space to settle in so it can be six weeks before some friends can see the baby, so the shower is a good time to wish her luck."
Jennifer Whelan, from Rathgar, has a six-month-old son called Harry. When she was pregnant, her sister and friend organised a baby shower for her and she was delighted to be the centre of attention for a few hours.
"My sister (who is Harry's godmother) and my friend, Siobhan, organised my baby shower for me about a month before my due date.
"It wasn't a surprise so I was prepared on the day, which was good as there were about 55 people at it. I got loads of great gifts, such as baby clothes, toys and blankets.
"It was a brilliant day – everyone did a fantastic job and I loved having a final time to meet up with friends and family before the arrival of my new baby, particularly as I knew that soon it would be hard to find the time to see anyone.
"On the day, we had food and games, like guess the size of the baby, pin the dodie and guess what is in the nappy (there was a bar of chocolate inside). We had a bib-decorating contest where the winner got a prize.
"I definitely think baby showers are becoming more common in Ireland, probably because of the American influence, but they are a modern way of celebrating the arrival of a baby.
"And I would recommend it to other expectant mothers, because it was a really fun day, where you get to dress up and feel special. And, of course, it was great that many people gave me lovely presents which prepared me a lot more and made the experience feel more real."