When to have a baby shower, from coed celebrations to sip and sees

A mint green baby shower invitation with the words “Baby Shower” in white script dotted in rainbow specks, surrounded by yellow paper flowers, a green striped fan, confetti, and a yellow balloon.
Paperless Post BlogBaby > When to have a baby shower, from coed celebrations to sip and sees

A baby shower is a great way to celebrate and support a mother-to-be or parent(s)-to-be, whether they’re having their first or their fifth bundle of joy. Traditionally, a baby shower was a women-only event planned and hosted by siblings or close friends of the mom-to-be. Today, it’s no longer a breach of etiquette for parents, in-laws, coworkers, or even distant relatives to host a baby shower—and nobody bats an eye if the father-to-be and other menfolk are on the guest list. There are also showers for couples who are adopting a child or children, or who are welcoming a child via surrogate. Regardless of how a baby or child is joining a family, the celebration is one of excitement and joy. 

Ashley Poirier, a Paperless Post design partner and a painter whose work explores color and emotion, was recently the guest of honor at her own baby shower. At seven months pregnant, Ms. Poirier flew back to her hometown to be the maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding, which was on a Sunday. The plan for Saturday, as far as she was aware, was to do some wedding prep before the rehearsal dinner. “Well, it turns out [my friend] had planned a COMPLETE surprise luncheon baby shower with my nearest and dearest,” recalls Ms. Poirier. “I walked in and everyone was there and I burst out crying. I couldn’t believe she would add something else to her plate when it’s already such a stressful time for a bride.” 

Planning a baby shower does, indeed, require some organization and creativity—there are lots of details to see to, from choosing a theme or color scheme to compiling the guest list, stockpiling party supplies, and picking out the perfect baby shower invitations. But before you can get to all of that fun stuff, you’ve got to decide when to have the baby shower and settle on the overarching type of party you want to host: Traditional or unconventional? Women-only or coed? Here, we help you answer your burning questions about the timing for hosting a baby shower and what type of shower is right for the soon-to-be parent(s).


An infographic summarizes when to plan and send baby shower invitations by pregnancy trimester, as described elsewhere in this article.

When to have a baby shower

Most people agree that for the most part, the best time to have a baby shower for a pregnant person is toward the end of the second trimester or early into the third trimester—around 28 to 32 weeks. This gives the parents-to-be enough time to unpack baby shower gifts, take stock, and buy any other baby essentials they need but didn’t receive from their baby registry before their new child actually arrives.

Ultimately, baby shower etiquette dictates that the soon-to-be parents’ wishes are the most important factor for deciding when to have the event. If they’re expecting multiples, an earlier baby shower might be preferable. Medical considerations, cultural practices, personal superstitions, and details like venue availability may also play a role in determining the best time to host the baby shower (or whether to give them a baby shower at all).


Left: A baby shower invitation with pink watercolor abstract shapes and gold flecks. Right: Pink flowers in a white coffee mug surrounded by white ribbon-wrapped favors.Ethereal Wash” by Ashley G for Paperless Post; Image via Kara’s Party Ideas.

When to start planning for a baby shower

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to start planning a baby shower around six to eight weeks in advance, depending on how much preparation the party requires. A small, simple gathering is easier to plan than a large catered party held at a venue.  

Send out baby shower invitations at least a month ahead of time to help avoid potential scheduling conflicts—especially if you have out-of-town guests who will need to make travel arrangements. Once you have a list of who to invite to the baby shower and you’ve decided on the theme or decor, it’s time to choose the invitations. 

The invites can tie into a theme, if you’d like—you can prepare the parents-to-be for the wild adventures ahead with “Safari Squad” invitations, or personalize an invitation with a maternity picture with “Photo Spread.” 

To streamline your baby shower planning process, send online invites from Paperless Post rather than printed invitations. Your guests will receive them via email, text, or shareable link, so that you can easily track your RSVPs and communicate with invitees, all in one place.


Left: Vanilla cupcakes with white frosting and rainbow sprinkles sit on a cake stand. Right: A baby sprinkle invitation with a wide border or rainbow sprinkles coming out of a cream envelope with red and white stripe liner.Image via Orchids and Sweet Tea; “Sprinkles” by The Indigo Bunting for Paperless Post.

Different types of baby showers you can host

The types of baby showers you can throw run the gamut, from a traditional, feminine affair with afternoon tea to a big and boisterous baby bash at a local bar—different strokes for different folks. Here are a few different types of baby showers that are popular these days.

Coed baby shower

Inclusive coed baby showers are becoming more and more typical (and fun). If you’re planning to host one, consider the overall ethos of the guest list to decide on an appropriate vibe so all attendees feel seen and included. 

Baby sprinkle

Think of a baby sprinkle as a baby shower lite. In general, baby sprinkles are more casual gatherings to celebrate the impending arrival of a second (or third, fourth, or fifth!) baby in the family. They’re more about celebrating and cheering on the parents-to-be than helping the parents outfit a nursery for the first time. Baby sprinkles are more typical when pregnancies are close together, and the parents still have most of the accouterments a new baby requires—though diapers are always appreciated!


Left: A baby shower invitation that says “A little cutie is on the way” with a smiling clementine and border of orange flowers and green leaves, emerging from an orange envelope. Right: A small white cake with a topper that reads “CUTIE” surrounded by oranges and orange balloons. Little Cutie” by Paperless Post; Image via Darcy Oliver Design.

Adoption shower

An adoption shower is only different from a baby shower if the little ray of sunshine isn’t arriving home as a newborn—or as a baby at all! In that case, it’s practical to include the pertinent information about the age of the new family member on the invitation. But adoptive parents are parents—and the wording on the invitation should reflect that. Use the same wording as you would if the mom-to-be was giving birth: “Join us in celebrating [Parent’s name] and the pending arrival of their new bundle of joy…”

If you’d prefer to simply let your friends and family know about your new addition, send an adoption announcement instead.

Virtual baby shower

Virtual baby showers are ideal for friends and families who are separated by distance—or in cases where Mom is on bed rest. If the entire party is online, the shower host can collect gifts, deliver them to the recipient’s house, and set up a festive video backdrop for the party. If guests from far away will join the live, in-person festivities via video, place them in a central location where they can see what’s happening—and where their view won’t be blocked by Aunt Mabel’s elbow and purse.

Themed baby shower

If you decide to pick a baby shower theme, choose invites that relate to it, and include any relevant information guests need to know—for instance, if the theme is flowers and you want everyone to wear florals. But a theme isn’t necessary—and it could lead to considerably more work. In Ms. Poirier’s opinion, creating a certain overall atmosphere can be more impactful than going with thematic decor. “As a general rule, I love a color palette and a certain vibe, but not a specific theme. I think of it more as art direction—I’m interested in creating the right mood for an event.” 


Image via Ashley Poirier; “Messy Dots” by Ashley G for Paperless Post.

When to have a sip and see

In some cases, practical, religious, or cultural considerations and traditions make a sip and see the choice of celebration over a baby shower. A sip and see party is a baby shower after birth—guests sip on drinks and meet the new baby for the first time, usually bearing gifts. Some parents-to-be may have both a baby shower and a sip and see—and that’s totally fine.

A sip and see is more casual than a traditional baby shower and is often hosted by the new parents themselves. There are tons of fun sip and see invitations to choose from on Paperless Post. If pictures of the newborn are ready, “Capitalized” is a sweet and simple invite option. To keep the “see” part a secret until the party, “Tweeting Over Teatime” is an adorable invitation featuring a bird and teapot design. 


An online baby shower invite with a gif of a cartoon giraffe turning and smiling and the words “oh baby!”“Mama Giraffe” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Shower someone you love with Paperless Post 

Whenever there’s a baby or new child arriving, a shower is in order—and it doesn’t have to be a big to-do. We asked Ashley Poirier what she considers to be the most important element of a successful baby shower, and she didn’t hesitate. “Truly, just people you love. Everything else isn’t nearly that memorable.” Aside from that, she says all any baby shower really needs is a cake, a few tasty snacks, some fresh flowers, and enough seating so that everyone can catch up.

However simple or elaborate your celebration, Paperless Post has beautiful, adorable, and even funny baby shower invitations for any type of shower, theme, or vibe. Add a registry link to help guests shower the parents-to-be with the baby items they need and want the most, always without ads. Get help with baby shower invitation wording, send invites out with ease, and keep things organized with our follow-up tools. 

P.S. Need adorable baby shower party supplies? Well, we have those, too! Party more, plan better, and stress less with Paperless Post.



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Hero image: “Nonpareil Baby” by Ashley G for Paperless Post.