Why Is A Baby Shower Called A Shower

why is a baby shower called a shower

Why is a Baby Shower Called a Shower?

The traditional baby shower is a big part of the exciting process as couples embark on parenthood. But fans of the pastime may not be familiar with the origin of its unique title. Today, it’s one of the most popular events to celebrate the impending arrival of a little one and the happy family it will soon join – but why is a baby shower called a shower? This article will explore the roots of this curious expression and the tradition around it.

Understand the Olden Days of Baby Showers

Baby showers as we know them today first came to prominence during the 1930s. It was originally an American tradition, with the established objective of showering the mother-to-be with gifts to mark the important milestone. From the start, the idea was to give the “shower” recipient all sorts of items that would help care for their baby, such as toys, furnishings, and baby clothes.

The original showers – then known as miscellaneous showers – did not necessarily follow today’s format and may not have always been specific to an expectant mother. Willow ware tea sets, dolls and china figurines were common gifts, and a wide range of occasions – such as moving house – could be marked with the shower’s offerings.

Why is a Baby Shower Called a Shower?

The first official baby shower as we would recognize it today was held in 1932, before the concept of family-oriented baby showers officially became a tradition in the United States during the 1950s.

Perhaps due to its non-traditional use in the past, the term “shower” for its current purpose is not self-explanatory – as one might expect it to refer to a sudden, intense downpour of rain, not gifts. The interesting thing is that more often than not, “shower” tends to be used as an expression when it comes to celebratory events; so despite the vague term, the context does make sense.

Amusingly, one explanation for this choice of words may lie in the poor quality of the vintage baby products of the day. As hot water was not always readily available, many baby baths were shared between babies and their mothers and were barely warm enough to be considered a “shower.” It’s been suggested that this may be why such events became known as “showers” in the first place!

Modernizing the Baby Shower

Today, a baby shower is all about the expectant mother, and these events are as much about providing parents with the necessary items for the baby as they are honoring the mom-to-be.

Through the generations, the practice has evolved; impractical objects like china tea sets have been replaced with diapers, baby bath tubs, nipples, rattles, and changing tables. Guests typically bring gifts like baby clothes and toys too, such as comforting items and educational activities to help bring the baby developmentally on track.

Guests also contribute to the special day with food, fun activities, and games that respect the mother’s connection with the baby, such as guessing the name, due date, and gender of the baby. The event is often hosted in the honor of the mother, and it’s often a small affair with beloved family and friends joining the celebration. Customized games, cupcakes with edible baby rattles, and creative décor help modernize these traditional events.


Though no one knows why a baby shower is exactly called a shower – with most folklorists pointing to its origins as an American tradition in the early 20th century – it continues to be a time-honored event that celebrates parenthood and welcomes the newest addition to the family. It’s all about being with friends and family, celebrating the pregnancy as well as the life that is about to come. From its non-traditional term to its cutting-edge festivities, the baby shower is a creative, special way of honoring this momentous transition. Even though it’s evolved over time, at its core the baby shower is still about honoring the soon-to-be parents and pampering the mom-to-be, which is why it will continue to exist as a cherished tradition and its name remain one of life’s enduring puzzles. Why is a baby shower called a shower? That’s still a mystery, but it’s a mystery that the world and its ever-changing baby showers are happy to keep.