Pretty much everyone, even the staunchly childless, loves babies, right? Babies are great, whether you want them for yourself or not! But does everyone love a baby shower, an event to which you are expected to bring gifts to celebrate your friends' or family members' decision to have a baby? Anecdotal information and episodes of certain HBO comedy-dramas reveal that not everyone adores a baby shower. Sometimes a baby shower can be dull, full of expectations and forced oohs and ahhs upon having to watch someone open gifts. And when one person has a baby shower over and over again, for multiple babies, perhaps those baby showers are especially burdensome or, dare we say, tedious, even for the friends and family invited who want to be supportive but also, well, how many baby showers can a person go to, really?

Not to worry, there is a new type of baby shower in town. It is less elaborate, for second or third or fourth children: Fewer guests. Minimal decorations. "Affordable essentials like wipes and diapers," writes Shivani Vora in a New York Times article on the subject of the less-than-shower. (Pity the second child!). This not-quite-a-shower has its own name: It's not a shower, it's a "sprinkle," and it—dear God—"takes its name from the less-than-a-shower weather event." She continues,

According to Shannon Guyton, site editor of TheBump.com, which focuses on pregnancy and parenting advice, such parties are on the rise.

“There is this growing mentality of wanting to celebrate every second of parenthood, and sprinkles fit with that trend,” she said.

What with the economy and all, maybe a sprinkle is just a bit more suitable, goes the reasoning.

Not everyone is into the trend, though. If someone pulls a sprinkle on you, and you don't feel like a sprinkle, know that anti-sprinklers (sprinklists?) have argued that sprinkles are essentially just baby showers in slightly less fancy baby clothing. "As charming and supportive as the idea might seem, sprinkles are not without controversy," writes Vora. "As commenters on TheBump.com quickly and heatedly pointed out, 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."

Baby showers, as it turns out, are a bit fraught. Some moms feel concerned about even the cost and burden to their friends of their very first shower, to say nothing of later "sprinkles." Others have "sprinkles" even fancier than a typical baby shower. Still others wait until after the birth of their infant or infants to have "diaper dinners" or “sip-and-see” lunches or "no gifts"-stipulated drinks. In perhaps the most poignant scenario of all, some mothers-to-be hint, hint, hint to their friends that they would like a baby shower, and yet neither a shower nor even a sprinkle ever arrives. This is a disappointment, according to one such mother quoted by Vora.

And yet, as with much in life, the only judgment here should really be reserved for horrible semantics. Must we go around naming things "sprinkles"? That word should be confined to ice cream toppings and those water-producing things you run through on the hottest days of summer as you pretend to be a little kid again, free from even the slightest concerns about what to call your not-quite-a-baby-shower baby shower. 

Image via Shutterstock by Neirfy.