By Heather Osterman-Davis
At a recent baby shower, I’d just filled my plate with “baby-Q-chicken” and hardboiled eggs in the shapes of baby buggies when the host announced the games were about to begin. I was tempted to take my food and hide out behind the clothing line festooned with decorated onesies. I’m not anti-game in general, but baby shower games are basically a misguided attempt to paint early parenthood as fun, which we all know is a scam. Why not revise them to retain entertainment value while incorporating actual skill building for the parent-to-be?
Take the game where you compete to see who can diaper a stuffed animal the fastest. Having changed close to 10,000 diapers, I can guarantee that this in no way prepares you to diaper a child. If you really want to help a new parent out, compete to diaper a cat. I have a cat and I can tell you that he enjoys many things: tuna water, popcorn, being scratched under the chin, even occasionally being put in a canvas bag and swung around in a circle. But he does not enjoy being diapered. To diaper a cat you must overcome rapid squirming while dodging nails and teeth. That’s what it’s like to diaper a baby once they’ve learned to roll.
A second option is to diaper a rotating sprinkler. Participants have approximately 30 seconds to secure the diaper before the water comes back around and hits you in the face. Enough said.
Continuing with the diaper theme is the very odd game where people try to identify what type of candy is melted into a diaper. Let’s not “sugar-coat” this. Sniffing a melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and examining actual poo in an attempt to discover if the remnants are beets or a sign of a bad dairy allergy aren’t even in the same ballpark. I’m not even going to suggest an alternative for this one. Life will revolve around body fluids soon enough. Why start now?
Next on the chopping block is guessing the contents of jarred baby food while blindfolded. The only possible take-away from this is it allows you to empathize with your future bundle of joy over the fact that 99% of jarred food tastes like a pea smoothie. Even my cat, who will eat leftover curry out of the sink, won’t eat jarred baby food.
Instead, try a baby-food-themed version of Chopped where participants attempt to create palatable baby food out of mystery ingredients. For beginners, start off with fruits or root vegetables; experts may attempt trickier foods, such as lima beans or fish.
And then comes “Pin the Sperm on the Egg.” In addition to its distinct 1980’s health class vibe, isn’t it a little late? Instead, challenge guests to place a pacifier in a baby’s mouth. Except first they have to find the pacifier blindfolded, which is hidden in a non-intuitive location, while someone screams in their ear.
Perhaps most barbaric of all is the one where you estimate the circumference of the guest of honor’s belly and then measure it to see who came the closest. Why, people? Why? Though I quite enjoyed my baby bumps, I am pretty certain that at 8.5 months I would have smacked anyone who guessed that I was three feet around or possibly just started to sob. Even if the guest of honor happens to be the 1 in 100 women who’s happily immune to physical insecurities, there’s just no real learning here.
Now, an amazing source of knowledge would be a game where you display pictures of women post-birth and have guests guess how recently they delivered. I wish to God someone had warned me that after my C-section I’d leave the hospital weighing three more pounds than I went in, wearing my husband’s loafers because my feet were too swollen to fit in my own shoes.
Baby shower games can be a gift if you let them be.
About the Author
Heather Osterman-Davis lives in NYC with her husband and two kids where she attempts to balance creative and domestic endeavors. Her work has appeared in Time; Slate; Creative Non Fiction; Brain Child; Literary Mama; Tin House’s Open Bar; River Teeth; Mothers Always Write and Tribe among others. She can be found on Twitter.