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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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In Kids & Family

How many showers does a mom get?

"Sprinkle" provides alternative to second baby shower


There's been much debate in the parenting world as to whether or not it's appropriate to have a baby shower for any child after the firstborn.

Often, if there is a second shower, it's less gift-focused and more about rallying together friends and family to celebrate the new life.

A growing trend is for parents to have a "sprinkle," a silly but aptly-chosen word that's floating around parent-focused media like a pinkish-blue balloon, and means having a gathering that's lighter, smaller and less fussy than the traditional shower.

The sprinkle has become more popular for many reasons, including the economy. Even for the first shower, big gifts like car seats and strollers aren't given as often.

"I got a lot of locally-made and handmade gifts," says Jen Kloiber, who has her son earlier this year. "Almost nothing from my Target registry. But I had no expectations for people to buy us anything, so I was totally fine with it."

Traditionally, a second shower / sprinkle was seemingly more acceptable and common when the sex of the second child was different from the first. Although the belief that babies should be dressed to reflect their gender is both more popular than ever – thanks to the resurgence of pink clothing for girls – and yet less popular than ever at the same time.

"My daughter wears all of my son's hand-me-downs and she looks adorable. Half the time I can easily spot her in a clump of friends because she's the only one not wearing pink. I love it," says Janet Kriefall, the mother of three.

Other criteria for second and third sprinkles instead of full-on showers often include a shorter guest list, shorter time frame (1-2 hours), casual dress and no games.

Becky Krajewski had a big shower when she was pregnant with her first child, a daughter, but she didn't want one when she was pregnant with her son. However, her mom and sister insisted that she have a gathering and so she agreed to a very small and family-focused event.

"As more babies have been born in our family, we have kind of taken the stance that second kids get a small gift and we cook a lot of food for the family to enjoy post-baby," says Krajewski.

There are exceptions, however. Krajewski believes a shower for subsequent kids might be in order if a couple is remarried and it's their first child together, or if there's a huge lag between babies and the parents no longer own infant gear.

Some families establish "rules" so everyone's on board with the pregnancy party protocol.

"My sister had three children in three years. We had a shower for the first, but for the others, we had 'celebrate the mom day.' We went and got manis and pedis and ate out somewhere she liked," says Krajewski.

Elizabeth Moen is the mother of three young children – she and her husband have a daughter and twin sons.

"I had many baby showers for the first. Between work, lots of family and lots of friends, our oldest was well showered," says Moen. "We were in a unique situation with baby two because baby three came right along with it. With twins on the way, we definitely needed more than what we had from our first baby."

Moen had fewer showers when she was pregnant with her twins, but she did create a small registry and gather with friends and family for a brunch celebration.

"In my experience, the second or third shower is planned because the parents just want to have a party with their friends regardless of gifts," she says.

Dana Hall and her husband, Andy, have six children. For the first, she had a huge shower in a rented hall.

"The first was a very big event with a lot of relatives that we don't see very often. I appreciated the shower and all the gifts we received for my son, but it felt very overwhelming at the time," says Hall.

Consequently, for the second child, she did not have a shower of any kind. During the third pregnancy, the Halls had a small brunch gathering with friends. For the fifth baby, there was not a shower, but for the fourth and sixth baby, she had blessingways.

A blessingway is another alternative to a shower. It usually doesn't include traditional games or decorations and has more of a spiritual than material component to it. Sometimes, blessingway guests bring a poem as their gift or the guests are asked to bring a bead that somehow represents the mother which is then made into a necklace.

"I cherish those so much," says Hall.

Other popular blessingway activities include: belly casting / henna-ing, washing the mother's feet, brushing her hair or having each guest light a candle while saying something supportive to the mother-to-be.

Regardless of how a group decides to gather before a birth, Hall does not believe it needs to focused on gift giving, rather about generating excitement for the new arrival.

"Each baby is special to the family," she says.

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