Raising Richmond: A sprinkle how-to

Tips for celebrating expectant moms the second (or third…or fourth) time around.

I’ve somehow reached a stage in my life where many of my friends are welcoming their second, third, or even fourth1 children into the world.2. As expected, while these wee ones will surely be loved with a fervor3 equal to what their older siblings experienced, subsequent kids just tend to arrive with less fanfare. The weeks of pregnancy go by a little faster with significantly less worry and commentary. Planning for post-birth logistical challenges takes priority over planning the nursery. Baby clothes/toys/various accoutrement are pulled out of the attic (or returned by those who last borrowed them) rather than meticulously researched and added to a registry–which brings us to our topic for today:

The sprinkle.

For the uninitiated, a baby sprinkle is essentially a baby shower but on a much smaller scale. And despite the preciously-precious name, it’s actually a really fantastic, low-key alternative4 when you’ve got an expectant-but-not-first-time mom who is already up to her very tired eyeballs in teething rings, swaddle blankets, Sophie giraffes, and copies of Goodnight Moon.

While the specifics of a baby sprinkle will vary from situation to situation, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when celebrating your friend and the impending arrival of her newest bundle of joy.

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What Mama wants, Mama gets

When extending the offer to organize a sprinkle, let the expectant mother know she’s calling the shots–and even encourage her to think outside of the box. The point of the event is to celebrate her, and that can look however she wants. An afternoon spent hand embroidering onesies? Great. A movie and then dinner out at a totally non-kid-friendly restaurant? Make it happen. Chances are she’s well aware that her access window to unencumbered hours is closing soon;5 let her spend them how she likes.6

Smaller is sweeter

Unless otherwise specified (see above), a sprinkle guest list should include a handful of close friends and any family members that won’t increase the guest of honor’s stress levels. Low-key is the name of the game, and packing the place with co-workers and her best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend isn’t always conducive to letting the mother-to-be relax and connect with those there to celebrate her.

Easy on the games, heavy on the gab

Disclosure: I hate7 party games, so it’s possible that my own tastes are coloring this tip a bit. But despite my self-admitted bias, I think it’s pretty accurate to say that no mom ever wants to spend precious, self-indulgent hours guessing baby food flavors or sticking her nose into a diaper to guess what kind of candy bar has been melted in there.8 Parents of small children so rarely get the chance to have uninterrupted conversation with other adults. Offer a quick welcome, maybe a sentimental toast to take advantage of the mom’s raging hormones,9 and let the conversation flow. As if you could stop it anyway. Since when has anyone ever been in the same room as a pregnant woman and not been able to come up with something to talk about?

Choose the essential over the adorable

Most sprinkle invitations I’ve received included a note of “Your presence is present enough!” because the expectant mother just doesn’t need any of the items that usually get unwrapped at baby showers. But I’m sorry, I’m just too Southern to abide by such a request. If you’re like me and simply cannot bring yourself to attend this sort of event empty-handed, err on the side of practical when choosing a gift. Find out if there’s a bigger ticket item she’s been eyeing (like a new stroller or a better breast pump) and get some other guests to go in on it with you. Fill a gift bag with a package of diapers, some wipes, and maybe a bag of trail mix for mom to snack on when she inevitably forgets to feed herself. Slip a gift card to her favorite restaurant (coupled with a coupon for a night of free babysitting) into her bag when she’s not looking. Or just bring her a bottle of wine with a tag reading, “Soon, my friend…soon.”

Photo by: jasonmountier

  1. God love ’em. 
  2. I was pretty much the first person in my group of friends to have a kid, but since I’ve only had one kid, most of them have lapped me by now. 
  3. By their parents but also by me. I adore all babies, but I lose my freakin’ mind over babies made by people I love. #babyhog 
  4. I am not here to say whether it is appropriate to have a full-on baby shower for a second, third, or whatever pregnancy. I am here to say that “rules” about such things are dumb. Do what you want. 
  5. But not permanently. Make sure you remind her of that, too. 
  6. Should I ever have another child, I would like my friends to take me out for pizza and bowling. Mostly because of the inevitable “Is that a baby or a bowling ball under your shirt?” jokes. Also: pizza. 
  7. I tend to hide in the bathroom until they’re over. 
  8. Oh, you didn’t know those were real baby shower games? Lucky. 
  9. “Who Can Make The Pregnant Lady Happy Cry First?” is the only exception I’ll make to my no party games rule. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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