The rise of British baby showers

Helen Gardner of Gardners Bakery, pictured with a baby shower cake.

Helen Gardner of Gardners Bakery, pictured with a baby shower cake.

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A great deal of tradition and superstition still surrounds the birth of a baby, even in today’s modern society.

And one ritual, which has made its presence felt particularly in the food industry, is that of the baby shower.

Tea parties to celebrate the birth of a baby, once it had already happened, even took place in Victorian times when pregnancy was often kept a closely-guarded secret for as long as possible. But, once the child was born, get-togethers were held for the new mother, including games used to predict pregnancy in other women.

The baby shower, as we know it today, actually started after World War Two, serving a practical purpose in that the event gave expectant parents the items they needed to care for their children.

Despite this, the shower is often thought of as a modern American invention, but one that seems to have been catching on throughout the UK in the last few years.

Local bakeries and cake-makers have reported taking increased requests for party cakes to mark what was once seen as a State-side celebration.

At the family-run Gardners Bakery, based in Kingsthorpe and Market Harborough, creative minds have been busily conjuring up everything from tiny toy bunnies to babies and ducklings... all in the form of cakes and icing.

Owner, Helen Gardner, said: “It has become popular in the last couple of years and now we probably do at least one a week. I don’t know why it is but I think perhaps people see these things in films or on TV programmes. People have been asking for storks or there are many ways of doing the different cakes. Some people know what they are having and some don’t. I used to group the cakes all under ‘christening’ on the website (www.
gardnersbakery.co.uk) but I had so many requests, I created a new category so people knew where to look.”

Where there was once a time when people trod carefully and sensitively around the subject of pregnancy, according to one national paper, humorous baby cakes showing tasteless images such as babies bursting out of stomachs, have also been chosen by some.

But it seems that shoppers in Northamptonshire are still choosing somewhat cuter and fluffier subjects for their baby shower cake designs.

At Weedon-based Buttercup Tea and Cakes, which makes cakes and sets out tea parties from scratch for all different occasions (see www.buttercupteaandcakes.co.uk), owners Joy Fedden and Sandra Brown have also been busily supplying baby shower cupcakes to be given as gifts to mums-to-be.

“We can, of course, create cupcakes or a large cake for the mum as a gift from a guest, or we can come and create a tea party for mum-to-be’s guests in their home or any other venue.”

Meanwhile, Jenny Prideaux, of The Sugar Fairy, in Kettering (www.thesugarfairy.co.uk) has also noticed the popular trend.

She said: “It is quite an American tradition but I wasn’t surprised to see it over here. I get asked to make all sorts of things. I would imagine it will become even more popular in the future.”