Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Baby-Friendly Baby Shower

For many first time moms, the baby shower is a rite of passage. Her friends and family enjoy celebrating the arrival of the newest little one and take the opportunity to provide for some of the things the new family will need.
Early parenthood brings much joy, but many challenges too. First-time mothers are often surprised at the obstacles they encounter in those early weeks. While most mothers in North America begin breastfeeding their infants, fewer than 20% are exclusively breastfeeding as is recommended at six months (and in some places, it’s much lower than even this). Despite the acceptance of breastfeeding as the optimal food for infants, we still live in a bottle-feeding culture.
Take a walk down the baby shower aisle of your local party store - bottles and pacifiers are everywhere from favors to plates to games. It seems hardly surprising that bottles are still so strongly associated with babies! Yet bottles and pacifiers can both be detrimental to the breastfeeding relationship when introduced too early.
So, how to throw a shower that’s fun for all and supports breastfeeding as the norm for new mom and baby?
Themes are a great way to bring a little fun to a party and help guests feel involved, though you really don’t need one. Check out the next few posts for ideas.
- Whatever matches your theme (if any): no need to go too over the top as the center of attention will be the big belly (or tiny babe).
- Keep an eye out for the ever-present bottle/pacifier, teddy bear and ducky themes are often good choices (though apparently they need soothers and bottles too!).
- Prizes can include some of the children’s books listed above, as well as more usual things like pretty potted plants, bath salts, etc….
- If you’re feeling particularly ‘lactivist’, let the party store know why you’ve purchased the items you have and that you’d like to see more items like them in the future.
- Memory Game: this is a game where participants are shown a group of baby items for a brief time and the person who remembers the most items wins! Great fun as it lets everyone participate. Instead of baby bottles and formula cans, try including breast pads, lanolin cream and perhaps even a nursing bra!
- Baby Animals: this is an easy written game. Print off a list of 15-20 female animals and have guests name their babies (i.e. elephant = calf). Throw in a couple toughies like raccoon/kit or turkey/pout.
- Charades or Pictionary: really fun games with an animated crowd. Try throwing in some breastfeeding phrases like “breast pump”, “leaking” and “let-down”.
The purpose of any party is for everyone to come away having had fun - certainly none more so than one intended to honor someone close to you as she begins a momentous new phase in her life. With some of the tips above, you can help support your guest of honor in making the right decision for her baby and family, but the intention is not to hit your guests over the head with the “message” or start up a debate on infant feeding. Keep it light and fun – as it should be!

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