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.

68 Gift Ideas to Celebrate Baby no. 2 When you have kids, simple entertaining is a must. Use these tips to host an easy, anxiety-free, and kid-friendly brunch. How to talk to your Young Childabout

68 Second Baby Gift Ideas

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Unfair as it may be, the second baby rarely gets the hoopla that surrounds the firstborn—sorry kiddo/get used to it. And barring a special situation (like mom is expecting multiples or there’s a significant age gap between children), some “been there, done that” moms don’t want to put themselves through another round of showers, themes, and thank you notes.

But even if the mom-to-be-again doesn’t want to make it a thing, most moms (and dads) will appreciate friends and family celebrating the second (or third or fourth) child. If you’re not sure where to begin with the family who has five versions of every baby product known to man (it happens), check out these tips and second baby gift ideas.

Not sure what to get the mama-to-be-again? Second babies deserve to be celebrated. Check this second baby gift guide (68 gift ideas!), including 9 tips on what you can give the expectant mom, the big brother or big sister, and the whole family.

Tip 1: Go in as a group.

Second babies are the perfect time for a group of friends or family to go in together on a nice gift for the expectant family. Many of the ideas/items included in this post are more expensive and would be perfect for a group gift.

Tip 2: Be practical.

With baby no. 2, the majority of must-have items will have been purchased for the first child and will be reused for the second. (Crib, check; stroller, check; bouncy seat, check.) As much as it might take the fun out of it, consider a practical gift that meets a need for the family.

  • Gift cards. Where does the family shop, and what do they use regularly? Gift cards to grocery stores, Target, Babies “R” Us, Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, or Diapers.com may not be creative, but will be useful and appreciated.
  • Replacement items. Did baby no. 1 have a blow out on the glider? Is there enough of an age difference that the carseat has expired? Has an item has been recalled? Consider replacing something that was sacrificed to the cause of first-time parenting.
  • Upgrade. Sure, the audio monitor was totally fine for baby no. 1, but a dual video monitor sure would be nice.
  • Mom’s (and/or Dad’s) wishlist. Even if there isn’t a shower planned, the parents may have a registry or an Amazon wishlist you can access. Or, you know, ask them what they want.
  • Diapers and wipes. Give the gift of no late night diaper runs.
  • Clothing for an opposite gender child. If the parents are expecting a child of the opposite gender, stock up on the basics for the new baby like pajamas, onesies, rompers, etc. Be mindful of seasons and sizes.
  • A double stroller. Consider the family’s lifestyle needs. Are they in the city and navigating packed streets? Are they short on space? Are they runners? Not sure? Lucie’s List recently posted an extensive guide to double strollers.
  • A portable crib. It’s unlikely that baby no. 2 will always have the luxury of long naps in the comfort of her own crib. A portable crib will give baby a space to nap anytime, anywhere.
  • A solution to a dreaded task, like clipping baby’s nails.
  • Something ingenious, like a place for your phone on your stroller.

Tip 3: Be impractical.

Like above, the parents-to-be probably have everything they need for the second baby, especially if the ages of their children will be relatively close. If there’s no glaring gaps in their baby needs, consider a completely impractical gift:

  • The latest baby gadget. The baby gear market moves fast. No doubt, even if it’s been less than two years, there is something new and cool and probably completely unnecessary on the market for the newest member of the family.
  • A baby bean bag chair, because duh.
  • A ridiculous onesie, like this onethis one, or this one.
  • Baby fortune cookie booties, because who cares if they stay on the baby’s feet, they’re fortune cookies.
  • An adorable, fancy outfit. Will baby no. 2 wear all of big sister’s hand-me-downs? Yes. Then she probably deserves a fancy, impractical outfit all her own. Check out Tea, Baby Boden, and Hanna Andersson.
  • Something decorative for the baby’s room. Don’t do this if the parents are particular about their decor, but if you have a good sense of their style, check out Etsy for something cute and handmade.

Tip 4: Consider the older child.

Big brother or big sister is about to go through some BIG changes. No doubt mom and dad have been preparing their only, but a little extra attention won’t hurt.

  • Books about being an older sibling. Big brother or big sister probably already has a handful of board books about this, but when baby actually arrives, it will probably be good to have a few more on hand, like My New Baby or I’m a Big Sister. For slightly older children, try something like My New Baby And Me: A First Year Record Book For Big Brothers And Sisters.
  • A big sibling kit. If you’re feeling crafty and able to put lots of thought into your gift, this might be the way to go. Include activity books, small trinkets, and a “toolkit” to “help” mom. Check out Pinterest for dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of examples.
  • Big sibling apparel.
  • A special day out. If you’re close with the family, consider taking the older child(ren) for a day trip shortly after the new sibling arives. It will give the parents time to tend to the newborn, and it will make the older sibling feel special. You could even create an invitation for the occasion. Children’s museums, zoos or aquariums, indoor playspaces, playgrounds, kid-friendly restaurants (like one that is train-themed) are all great choices for an outing with a toddler or younger child.

Tip 5: Give services rather than stuff.

You know what I need? Other people to clean my house, buy my food, and cut my lawn. And I don’t have a newborn. Even if it’s only once or twice, imagine how nice it will be for mom and dad to get a break a time-consuming chore.

  • Cleaning services, because having someone else clean your house is literally the greatest thing ever. The best way to find a good service is to ask people in the area for recommendations, but Groupon also regularly has deals on cleaning services.
  • Lawn care services. Again, ask around for a recommendation.
  • Grocery delivery services like Peapod or Door to Door Organics.

Tip 6: Everyone needs to eat.

But no one wants to cook when they are exhausted taking care of multiple children, including a newborn.

  • Freezer meals. Make the family a meal that they can easily defrost and pop in the oven. Some of my favorites are Cincinnati Turkey Chili, Turkey Meatballs, Individual Meat Loaves, Spinach Lasagna Rolls, and Pasta Bake with Sausage and Spinach. Short on time to cook? You can also find companies will do the freezer meals for you. In the Chicago western suburbs, check out The Dinner Club in La Grange.
  • If the family doesn’t have room for lots of freezer meals, put together a meal train with other friends and family. That way, the family isn’t overwhelmed 300 casseroles at one time.
  • Lactation cookies if mom is nursing.
  • Really any kind of cookie.
  • Muffins. Muffins also freeze well.
  • Gift cards to their favorite take-out restaurants. What’s nearby, and who delivers? Check Grubhub for ideas.
  • Care package of snacks. Make sure they are kid- and adult-friendly. Think crackers, fruit, granola bars, trail mix, etc.
  • Bring lunch for the whole family after the baby is born. Then hold the new little one while mom eats.
  • Meal services. The latest trend in meal planning is services that provide the fresh ingredients, already portioned and ready to be used in a recipe, direct to your door. All mom and dad have to do is put the meal together (think minimal chopping, no grocery lists). Check out Plated and Blue Apron, which provide delivery in various areas around the country.

Tip 7: Give a gift the whole family can enjoy.

Instead of focusing on one member of the family, give something that they can all use or do together.

  • Family memberships to zoos or aquariums, children’s museums, or other near-by attractions that cater to multiple ages.
  • Passes to a nearby indoor playspaces. Most playspaces that cater to toddlers and preschoolers will also have an area for infants and comfortable spots for mom to feed the new baby. If you’re in the Chicago western suburbs, I highly recommend Peekaboo Playroom (but you probably already knew that).
  • A family photo session. Let’s be real, the kids won’t enjoy this, but parents will love a gift of a family photo session with a great photographer (if they have used a photographer for family photos before, go with that person). Make sure they are able to schedule the session when they are ready <– this last part is key.

Tip 8: Pamper Mom (and Maybe Dad).

You know who’s not going to get a lot of a sleep over the next several months? Mom. And with more than one tiny, needy human in tow, making herself a priority is going to drop way down the list at least for a little while. Do something nice for her before her workload doubles.

  • Spa services. Treat the pregnant mama to a prenatal massage or a pedicure.
  • Prenatal yoga classes. I don’t speak from experience, but I imagine that during your second pregnancy, you reminisce about your first pregnancy and wonder how you ever had the space in your brain to Google that weird pain in your side for hours or curate the perfect baby registry. During the first pregnancy, moms have all kinds of time to just go places (like the yoga studio) and do things (like prenatal yoga). Wouldn’t it be nice to relive that, if only once or twice? If mama can get out of the house, a small package of prenatal yoga classes at a nearby studio might be a nice gift.
  • One last date night… for now. It’s hard enough to get out of the house with only one child. Before the next baby arrives, offer to babysit (or arrange and pay for babysitting from an adult the child is used to/comfortable with), and buy the parents a gift card to a nice, nearby restaurant.
  • A postpartum care kit.

Tip 9: Have a celebration, but not necessarily a shower.

Just because there’s no formal shower, doesn’t mean that friends can’t get together and celebrate the second-time mom-to-be. Some of these ideas can be done on a budget; others will be a bit more expensive; some are even worthwhile for the whole group.

  • Stock the freezer party. Here’s an example of how to do this. Make sure the guest of honor knows that she doesn’t have to plan a meal or bring any ingredients. The beauty of this is that everyone gets to go home with meals. Wildtree representatives also offer freezer meal workshops that you can host in your home, if you don’t have the time to plan and organize this kind of party yourself.
  • Host a busy bag swap. You know what is great? Keeping your toddler busy when there’s a new baby in the house. Busy bags can help provide the toddler with activities to keep him… uh… busy. To throw a busy bag swap party, each mom chooses a busy bag to make (there are tons of ideas on Pinterest) and puts together enough of that bag to share with each person attending the party. Like a stock the freezer party, if you’re doing this in honor of a mom-to-be, don’t make her do any of the work upfront, just let her benefit from everyone else’s.
  • Spa party. Many local spas will host parties where groups can relax and visit, have appetizers and beverages (non-alcoholic and otherwise), and get abbreviated/sample spa services.
  • Baby clothing or toy swap. Do the parents-to-be need clothes for a child of a different gender? Maybe their older child could use a few new and exciting toys to keep him or her occupied while mom and dad are tending to the newest member of the family. Consider doing a toy or clothing swap with other moms. Each mom brings clothing or toys they no longer plan to use and swaps them for items brought by other moms. Mom-to-be gets first dibs.
  • A girl’s night (or brunch) out. Get the ladies together and treat the mom-to-be to a nice brunch or dinner.
  • Or sprinkle the mama-to-be-again.

What else? Do you have other creative ways to celebrate or great gift ideas for baby no. 2?