Baby Showers9th August 2010
‘Baby showers’ were once an American phenomenon although in recent years have become more and more popular in the UK. It is often thought they get their name from the ‘showering’ of gifts that the expectant mother receives; however this is not true. It is believed the name comes from a German immigrant called Franz Schauer, who was working as a silversmith in New York in the 18th century. Rumour has it that he encouraged the upper classes to buy gifts for new born babies and as a result the phrase ‘Baby Shower’ evolved.
Apparently ‘baby showers’ first began after World War II; family and friends would have a party to celebrate the birth of a new baby. However nowadays the party happens before the baby even arrives!
Traditionally only women were invited to these ‘showers’, arranged by the expecting mother. The original idea was that the women would get together and share their knowledge on motherhood. However, today baby showers are more about the giving and receiving of gifts such as baby booties or blankets for the baby. Men and other family members are now usually invited to baby showers too and quite often more than one shower is held for different groups of family, workmates or close friends!
The showers are usually arranged by the maid of honour or bridesmaids from the expectant mother’s wedding. They arrange invitations, party games, favours and often hold the shower in their own homes.
They can be a great opportunity for soon to be grandmas and aunties to gift the mother with their handknitted presents for baby. Knitted babywear is always a popular choice at baby showers, where countless pairs of baby booties and cardigans are lovingly handed over for baby. These ‘homemade’ knitted gifts may well be made with love but sometimes not so much attention is given to the look and feel of the garment. Often oddly shaped and itchy, these are gifts full of character more than comfort!
Alpaca is a particularly good fibre to knit with when making baby’s clothing as it is hypoallergenic and doesn’t scratch or itch like wool does. It is also supremely soft and warm, and perfect for making the cosiest baby booties for little feet!
Baby showers are big business now and the array of baby products to choose from is amazing! Baby booties have moved on from the plain knitted wool they once were and now baby can wear fur, sheepskin or leather booties too. Blankets come in all shapes and sizes and can double up as towels, nursing shawls or sleeping bags! The list is endless, so much so that some retailers have started making a newborn list – like a wedding list – to avoid duplicate presents!