What I Learned by Hosting a “Baby Sprinkle” (Or, What the Heck is a Baby Sprinkle?)

By Deborah Ziff

I recently co-hosted a “baby sprinkle.” In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to admit upfront that I’d never heard of a baby sprinkle until a few weeks ago (this despite the fact that the New York Times was on top of it two years ago). So if you’re like me, and you’ve fallen shamefully behind on your baby shower trends — the sprinkle is a smaller, less elaborate version of the baby shower for second, third or fourth (or more) pregnancies.

I wanted to do something to celebrate my friend Katy’s second pregnancy. Katy has 2-year-old twins, Emma and Daniel. Emma was diagnosed a year ago with a chromosomal disorder, autism, brain damage from birth and resulting cerebral palsy. Katy has been very open about Emma’s struggles on her blog and she was featured in a newspaper story. Given the day-to-day stress of raising 2-year-old twins — let alone 2-year-old twins with special needs — I figured Katy hadn’t had much time to celebrate herself or the new baby.

Learn how to host a baby sprinkle. A baby sprinkle is a small baby shower for a second (or subsequent) baby. It's a great way to celebrate mom and baby.

Katy is a boisterous, funny, extroverted British woman who is usually the one planning parties. She threw an elaborate 30th birthday party (it involved a citywide scavenger hunt) for me and another friend and was known to rent bouncy houses for her backyard even before she had children. But hosting a party for “the planner” can sometimes be tricky.

Now for a word about me: I’m not fancy. I held my wedding reception in a lodge in the North Woods of Wisconsin where guests amused themselves during dinner by taking photos with the animal heads mounted to the walls. My husband and I—ages 36 and 33, respectively—were very pleased with ourselves when we recently bought an ACTUAL COUCH after sitting on a futon since college. So the idea of a no-frills baby shower is right up my alley.

Deb (left) with Katy, the mommy-to-be-again.

As I planned the party, I realized that the expectations of a sprinkle are not as well-defined as that of a shower. Or, as the Times put it, “sprinkles are not without controversy.” (Move over Benghazi!) The Times goes on: “Guests directed to spend money on gifts yet again might feel resentful, and, on the other side, moms-to-be can feel uncomfortable with the expectation that they do so.”

Yikes! Luckily, I had two good friends/co-hosts who helped me navigate my way through the (apparently) pitfall-filled world of baby sprinkles.

So here’s what I learned about how to host a baby sprinkle:

Make it about mama: Since second-time moms already have the basics, make mama be the focus of gifts, instead of baby. In Katy’s case, she had not one, but two, of everything in the whole wide babyverse. Mommy Sanest has already run a thoughtful list of gift ideas for second pregnancies. I got Katy some fragrant, locally-made soaps and perfume, and threw in an eco-friendly wooden rattle for the baby (all from a cool store in Forest Park called Refind Home).

Set the tone early: We chose to do an Evite, rather than a snail mail invite, to keep the expense down and to keep it casual. The invitation asked guests to “join us to celebrate Katy,” rather than welcoming baby. Katy already had a registry with items for the new nursery and practical items like diapers and wipes, so we included that in the invitation.

Keep it casual: Katy’s baby shower for her first pregnancy included lunch at a private club in Madison. We held this party at a friend’s house. One of my co-hosts, Debbie, got a little happy with the Cricut craft cutting machine (I also had never heard of this until the party – remember, I’m not fancy!) so the decorations wound up being really beautiful, but also all homemade.

Keep it small: We ended up having a small intimate gathering of about seven people. It was perfect. We felt totally comfortable talking about the less glamorous side of having a baby. At one point, in the midst of talking about the possibility of, erm, going No. 2 during delivery, someone astutely noted, “So this is the difference between a sprinkle and a shower.”

Skip the games: I’m actually a fan of this rule for regular baby showers, too. (Seriously. No one wants to eat chocolate from a diaper!) For an activity, we bought some wooden blocks for guests to decorate with stickers, paint and paper. The idea is that the new baby will be able to play with them after she’s born.

Stop worrying and have fun: If some of the invited guests decided not to come because they just_couldn’t_take_one_more_shower, so be it. That’s their choice. More cupcakes for the rest of us.

Deborah Ziff is a freelance writer, ex-trombone player, and hedgehog enthusiast in the Chicago area. She’s also mom to a 19-month-old daughter and a labradoodle named Franklin.

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20 thoughts on “What I Learned by Hosting a “Baby Sprinkle” (Or, What the Heck is a Baby Sprinkle?)

  1. Oh lord, THANK YOU for your point about shower/sprinkle games! I’m down with activities, but I can’t take the games.

    My wife and I have already decided that if we do have a kid, the shower is going to have a keg, and all the men-folk will be required to come.

    • I better get an invite to this maybe-fictional shower. Also, I think it would be a great to do a post of non-horrible shower game/activity ideas and which games should be banished (my vote goes to the measuring/guessing the mom-to-be’s belly. Also, not a fan of the word belly.

      • You will absolutely be invited to our at-this-time hypothetical shower!

        Sounds to me like you should take to social media and ask for ideas! I’m trying to think of non-lame games… I think it’s always sweet to have people write advice to the kid at different ages.

        Or just a giant Cards Against Humanity tournament… that works too.

  2. I cringe at shower games. Especially the “don’t say the word baby” clothespin game. I already hate small talk – why make it even harder???

    • WOW. I’ve never been to a shower where that particular game was being played, but that sounds AWFUL. I would just shout “BABY! BABY! BABY!” over and over until they asked me to leave.

      • And there’s always the “baby” police woman who hears you say baby and comes and rips the clothespin from your possession. She wins of course!

    • My mom threw my first shower and it was huge, elaborate, and just not my style. I appreciated all she put into it of course, until the game “guess the belly size” emerged. How humiliating when I already feel like a whale that people get to take streamers and try to guess how fat I am……thanks guys, great game.

  3. I never heard of a baby sprinkle! Such a cute idea 🙂 Love the decorating the blocks activity–I’m throwing a baby shower this weekend, and I might have to go buy some blocks quick!!

  4. I must be behind on baby shower trends as well, because I just recently heard of sprinkles.

    Side note, you’re from my neck of the woods, I see! Madison woman, here 🙂

    • You’re not alone :). It’s hard to keep up with the world of baby celebrations. And, I’m not from Madison (Deb, the guest writer of this post, is from Wisconsin), but Madison is one of my favorite places.

  5. a baby sprinkle!! oh gosh I love it. the name itself is way cuter than shower. intimate parties always seem so much more personal, plus i feel like they are way less stressful for everyone invited. love this idea & will have to pass it along to friends and family.

    • I think everyone has more fun when parties are low key, and I think low key makes a lot of sense for baby #2. Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Thanks for your post. I am pregnant with #4 but my youngest is already 5 and I gave away ALL my baby stuff to friends years ago. I feel so badly about the whole baby shower issue and didn’t want my friends to feel burdened with hosting so I’m planning a party myself. Some people may find this tacky, but I feel like we should celebrate every blessing. Why pass on such a big moment in life? The sprinkle may be the way to go. I also dislike baby shower “games” but I love the activities. Your blocks idea was adorable (I may borrow it). I also love having guests leave notes of advice or whatever they like. Thanks again for sharing. I hope everything is going well for your friend. 🙂

  8. I love hosting parties and get-togethers! Since this will be our second boy, I’m foregoing the traditional baby shower and settling for a simple, fun welcoming party instead. You shared some lovely tips, thank you!

  9. I love this idea. I recently found out I am pregnant with #3. My other kids are 10 and 8 and this baby is a huge surprise. I gave most of my stuff away and what I did have left was distoyed in my house fire last year, so I’m literally starting over. I wasn’t really sure if it was tacky to have another shower at this stage. I think this is a great idea.

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