A baby shower is a great way to spend time with close family and friends, and being showered with useful baby gifts is pretty fun too. And what's really nice about a baby shower is that it's a fairly easy occasion to plan.

Deciding when to schedule a baby shower can sometimes be a cause for confusion however, but it does need to be the first step in the planning stage. Having a baby shower before the baby arrives makes sense for first time parents because they likely won't have any baby gear yet and it's something they're going to need as soon as the baby comes home. But a shower is also an opportunity for those close to the expectant mother to visit with the new bundle of joy, so having the shower after the baby's birth makes sense, too. Here's some advice to help make this decision.

One advantage of having the baby shower after the infant is born is that baby showers typically are brief. If the parents are up to the occasion, having a lot of people together all at once for a limited duration can mean that visitation is over and done with rather quickly. Another benefit is that guests know the baby's gender, name, and birth statistics, and knowing that information might make gift-buying easier, especially if the gift is something that will be engraved. Also, having the shower a month or so after the baby is born gives mom an opportunity to get her appearance 'back to normal'.

Planning a baby shower after the baby's birth works well when the child is not the mother's first. If it's a second or third child, she'll likely have all the basics on hand and guests' gifts can focus more on everyday necessities like diapers and clothing.

A baby shower before the new baby's arrival means that the expectant mother can be the guest of honor rather than the new child. All eyes can be focused on her. She can be pampered and after going through her gifts, there's another month or so to shop for the items she still needs. Many expectant mothers know the gender of their unborn child and have already picked out a theme for the baby's room so gift-giving can still be specific. Scheduling the baby shower before birth gives the mother-to-be something to look forward to because by this time, she's mainly looking for the pregnancy to be over.

The decision of when to coordinate the baby shower really is something that needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis. But it cannot be delayed because nothing else can be planned until the date has been decided. If it will be held before the baby arrives, it's good to schedule the shower during the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy. If the baby shower will be afterwards, it's advisable to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks after delivery to allow time for mother and child to bond and get used to each other.