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While we often think of rainbows as fun ways to add colorful whimsy to a party, they can take on a much deeper significance when you’re talking to a pregnant mother or planning a baby shower. A rainbow baby is a child born after miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or other fertility-related trauma. And while preparing for a rainbow baby may seem exciting, it’s really a mixed bag of emotions.
Pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death can be incredibly vulnerable. You are excited…and yet…terrified. So what do you do when your loved ones want to throw you a baby shower?
This question is one that every parent will probably answer differently.
Some parents want to celebrate the upcoming birth of their rainbow baby with a huge shower. Others are afraid to celebrate at all.
The anxiety and fear that surrounds pregnancy after miscarriage or loss can make it feel difficult to want to celebrate a rainbow baby, so some parents prefer to prepare for the arrival of a rainbow baby quietly–perhaps with a small shower or gathering of friends.
Other parents even choose to celebrate the arrival of a rainbow baby after the birth to help alleviate the stress of attention and well-wishes before the baby is born.
However you choose to celebrate your rainbow baby is valid! And if you don’t choose to mark the occasion, that’s okay, too.
Our ideas for a rainbow baby shower can be applied to any way of celebrating: a big shindig, a small party, or a celebration after the birth of your precious and longed-for baby. Let’s start planning!
Why Are Baby Showers Rainbow Themed?
Baby shower themes are common, but a rainbow color theme is extra special. The theme of the rainbow baby shower pays homage to the concept of the rainbow baby, the rainbow after the “storm” of a traumatic experience like pregnancy or infant loss.
Rainbows, in Biblical tradition, signify the hope that God gave humanity after the great flood. In non-biblical tradition, rainbows offer viewers a beautiful sight after a storm.
However you choose to interpret them, rainbows are an important symbol in the pregnancy loss community. They offer hope to those who are grieving and hope that brighter days are ahead.
While many families keep their losses private, others are very open about their experience. If those families are feeling joy about having a rainbow baby, they may have done a rainbow baby announcement, or they may want to have a special rainbow-themed shower to celebrate.
Don’t assume someone wants a rainbow shower, though, as the concept brings up past loss as much as it honors new life. Always confirm that a mom wants a rainbow-themed baby shower before throwing one.
How to Host a Rainbow Baby Shower
If you’re hosting a rainbow baby shower for friends or loved ones, it’s important that you make sure that their wishes are honored.
Have an open discussion with the parents and make sure you are both on the same page about what they want.
If they don’t want a big party, please don’t throw one. Instead, host an intimate dinner party with people who are familiar with their loss and with whom they are comfortable.
If they don’t want any kind of attention surrounding the birth of a rainbow baby, find a way to fly under the radar, such as raising money from their friends and family for a Amazon or Etsy gift card. Target and Uber Eats gift cards are also a great way to show that you care without hosting a big event.
Remember: this event is not about you–the planner–it’s about the expecting parents and their wishes.
Honoring Past Losses
If the rainbow baby parents are comfortable with an actual baby shower, make sure to ask if they want a table or area dedicated to honoring their past loss(es).
Some ways to honor losses include:
- Frame ultrasounds or photos of their child. We especially love this sweet memorial frame.
- Have a card writing station so guests can write letters to the new parents acknowledging their lost child(ren).
- Light a personalized candle to represent the lost child.
Having a table or area dedicated to acknowledging the child that came before is a great way to remind the parents that their child is still present even as a new baby is on the way.
If you need other ideas for remembering a loss, miscarriage memorials are great way to show that you care about the parents’ past loss(es).
Preparing for a Rainbow Baby Shower: Everything You Need to Make it Special
Now that you’ve decided what kind of shower you want to host and whether or not you will memorialize the losses that came before the rainbow baby, it’s important to pay close attention to the details!
If you’re hosting a baby shower during 2020 (or even during 2021 depending on how the pandemic plays out), consider our tips for making a drive by baby shower super special!
(1) Rainbow Baby Shower Invitations
One of the first things you’ll need to do when organizing a shower is to choose the perfect invitations.
The invitations set the tone for the shower and let guests know crucial details about when and where it will be held. One great thing about a rainbow baby theme is that it’s a very gender neutral baby shower, so you can pick what you like and run with it.
These invitations are specific to the theme of rainbows, and we adore them!
This would be great for a boy rainbow baby (if acknowledging gender is your thing). The simplicity and colors are super sweet, and of course you can customize it with all the details for the shower.
This is actually a customizable, downloadable bundle that includes an invitation, book request, and diaper raffle.
If the parents are really comfortable with the rainbow theme, this invitation is perfect! The bright rainbow set against the black backdrop emphasizes the beauty of the rainbow after the storm.
This sweet, colorful invitation would be a great one for any rainbow baby shower, and it reminds the parents of the upcoming joy after loss.
(2) Rainbow Baby Shower Decorations
The invitations will set the tone for the shower, so you’ll want to use a similar color scheme to the invitations you’ve chosen for party decorations.
For instance, if you’ve chosen an invitation with muted pastel colors, then you’ll want to make sure that the balloons, candles, tablecloths, and any other decor matches.
Here are some great suggestions for you to choose from as you plan the shower:
Baby banners and garland are all the rage. We love a good tissue paper garland! Hang it in your entryway for a festive entrance to the shower, or hang it behind the food or present table to accentuate the goodies.
This felt ball garland is sooo precious! You can let the new parents take it home, too, as it would make the perfect accent to a nursery.
Want to give your guests something fun to take home? These rainbow party favor bags are ADORABLE and will hold anything you choose to send them home with.
Balloon garlands take a little bit more work than paper tassel or rainbow felt ball garlands, but boy, do they make a statement! Balloon garlands are gorgeous, and they make a great place for the new parents to take photos with people who have come to celebrate with them.
If you’re looking for a non-traditional favor for the rainbow party favor bags above, look no further! These cute, customizable soaps will be adored by all your shower guests.
These labels are a great way to personalize your drink offerings. Peel and stick them onto a regular water bottle, and suddenly even water is festive!
Having your dinnerware match your party theme is super cute and also a fun way to mix the theme with functionality. Pair these napkins with matching Rainbow paper plates and Rainbow paper cups, and you’re good to go! There are even matching treat boxes, perfect for your drive-by baby shower!
Make little baby sprinkles everywhere so your shower is extra special. Scatter these sweet little rainbow stars on the gift table or on the food table. They will add whimsy to any tablescape.
(3) Rainbow Baby Cake Ideas
One of the most festive parts of any baby shower (and the one I look forward to the most) is the CAKE!
Whether you choose to go with a traditional cake (layered or tier) or cupcakes, this is the one part of the shower that’s sure to please everyone (unless they don’t eat cake, and in that case, are you sure you can trust them??).
Here are some great ideas for making your rainbow baby shower cake or cupcakes extra special:
This cake topper is made from thick glitter cardstock and reads “our rainbow baby.” It would be super sweet atop any rainbow baby cake!
This 12 piece cupcake topper set includes sunshines, rainbows, and butterflies. It’s the perfect set for a sweet little rainbow baby.
This fondant cake topper comes personalized for your sweet little one. It can also be made in various sizes and shades, so it’s perfect whether you choose pastels or primary colors.
This light colored rainbow cake topper is so cuuuute. It’s made from modeling clay and is the perfect top to accompany a tiered cake.
This pennant is a great way to jazz up a rainbow baby cake! We love that it’s a little unusual but also perfectly follows the theme.
Interested in a unique cake topper for a more boho shower? This macrame cake topper is gorgeous, and we can guarantee that it’s not your average rainbow decor.
If you choose this option, you’ll be sure to have a show-stopping cake topper. Its unusual whimsy is sure to please.
(4) Rainbow Centerpieces
We’ve covered invitations, decor, and the cake…now, what’s left?
Well, many people choose to have tables for guests to sit, chat, and eat throughout the shower. If you’d like to decorate those tables, you can’t go wrong with a rainbow centerpiece.
You could make this yourself if you’re crafty, but if you don’t have time, this tissue paper pom pom would be a great addition to any table.
These centerpieces hold balloons, which will add height and visual interest to your tables.
Again, you could make these, but if you are short on time and looking for some adorable centerpieces, these mason jars are sure to draw some smiles and add a visual focus to each table.
(5) Outfits for Mom
Every mom wants to feel beautiful at her baby shower, and if your mama has selected a rainbow theme, she might really want to celebrate what a miracle this baby is.
There are some amazing dresses out there to help mamas celebrate just this type of occasion. Here are a few of our favorites.
A beautiful, relaxed option that will help mama celebrate her special day without feeling over-the-top or having to dress up too much.
This tossing skirt is perfect for any rainbow baby shower or maternity shoot. It allows mama to wear whatever dress she’s comfortable in but still add a beautiful rainbow flare, allowing her to dress up or down as she pleases.
For the mama who wants her shower to be a celebratory, fancy occasion, this dress is perfect for showing off mama’s joy over her rainbow baby.
For the mama who wants to keep it super comfy and casual, pair this t-shirt with your favorite skirt or pants!
What about baby shower gifts for a rainbow baby? While mama will certainly want and need many of the gifts from her registry, some guests might choose to send specific rainbow baby gifts.
Here are a few of our favorite:
Rainbow Baby Blankets
Blankets are common baby gifts, but really, it’s hard to have too many. There are so many beautiful rainbow baby blankets available.
We love these rainbow swaddle blankets, which are soft and will get plenty of use while baby is a newborn.
If you want to go for a bigger, softer blanket that baby will use when they’re a bit older, we love this sweet, soft, fuzzy one.
Rainbow Baby Outfit
There are tons of cute rainbow baby outfits out there, so you can easily customize to the liking of your favorite rainbow mama.
We love this precious rainbow baby gown set because it’s soft, versatile, and doesn’t have any appliqué to rub against baby’s skin. You also can’t go wrong with a basic onesie, like this organic cotton one.
A sweet, simple rainbow necklace with the new baby’s name is a great way to give mama something that she can wear everyday to celebrate her little one
Rainbow Baby Celebrations Can Be Difficult
Even if you choose to have a big, blowout celebration for your rainbow baby, many moms feel a sense of guilt over celebrating after they’ve experienced a devastating loss.
Please know that celebrating a rainbow baby isn’t an either/or situation. You can celebrate the birth of your child and also honor your loss in doing so.
You are not forgetting one child by having another. Allow yourself to feel however you need to feel, but please, do not feel guilty.
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate a rainbow baby, and you are not taking away from that grief by having a shower.
Any way you look at it, a rainbow baby shower is a beautiful thing. And if you’re looking for rainbow baby gifts, we have you covered there, too!
Did you choose to have a rainbow baby shower? If so, what was it like?
Sarah Creel, PhD, is the editor of Undefining Motherhood, and Director of the Research Communication Certificate in the Graduate School at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Sarah loves to be with her family (including eight nieces and nephews!), friends, boyfriend, and animals (she has two cats and one weird dog. Wait, who is she kidding? They are all weird). At Undefining Motherhood, Sarah brings new perspectives by shedding light on nontraditional ways of being a mother.