Birth Announcement Etiquette—Don't Mess This Up!

When should you send your baby birth announcement? And do you have to send it to everyone? We have the answers to these questions (and more) to help you make the right steps.

birth announcement cards Bryan McCay

Whether you're a first-time parent, second- or third-time parent, adoptive parent, or a parent of multiples, you can still ensure that your birth announcement has all the necessary information that pleases everyone. When to send announcements, who to send them to, and whether paper or electronic are okay—we've compiled everything you need to know about birth announcement etiquette below.

What Basic Information Should You Include?

When preparing your birth announcement, think about the first things you would usually ask a new parent: When was the baby born? What is the baby's gender? What did the baby weigh? What is the baby's name? Cindy Post Senning, co-director at the Emily Post Institute, says the answers to these questions will be the most important pieces of information on your announcement. Make sure you include the baby's gender because newborns often look the same, and names can be ambiguous, Post Senning says. If you choose gender-neutral colors for your announcement, clearly indicate whether your baby is a boy or girl. A few other details you can include:

  • Names of the Baby's Parents and Siblings (include the full names of both parents, especially if the last names are different)
  • Baby's Weight (commonly included)
  • Baby's Length
  • Birth Location
  • Names of the Baby's Grandparents
  • Who Delivered the Baby (that is, whether it was a doctor or midwife, suggest Devra S. Renner, M.S.W., and Aviva K. Pflock, M.Ed. Psy, authors of Mommy Guilt)
  • A Baby Website (with relevant information/photos of the baby)

Parents of twins or multiples can include the same info on the announcement but modify it for length (to include all the babies' names!). If you've adopted your new baby or child, it's fine to include the adoption date and the baby's birth location, especially if it was an international birth. If you've adopted a child who is no longer an infant, you can send a personalized adoption announcement that provides a few details about your new addition, such as the child's birthplace and birth date, plus the adoption date.

If you're feeling stuck on what to include, remember that less is more. "Parents should include whatever information they feel comfortable including, but keep in mind that not every recipient is expecting to read a long birth story on an announcement," Renner and Pflock say. "Short and sweet is easy and certainly sufficient."

When Should You Send the Birth Announcement?

The exact timing for sending announcements depends on your schedule. You've just welcomed a new baby into your home, so friends and family will understand that you're too busy to send them right away. If you're a planner, save your future self some time by prepping and addressing announcements a few weeks or months ahead and then adding in the necessary wording after the baby's birth, Post Senning says. If you're planning to send an electronic announcement, compile a list of e-mail addresses beforehand so you only need to hit "send" after the baby is born. If you're unable to send an official birth announcement within the first few weeks after the birth, you can always send a short e-mail update or post a short social media message first and then follow up with a more formal, detailed announcement (electronic or paper) when you have time. There's no official cut-off time to send an announcement, so don't stress if a few months have passed. "This is a happy occasion; it shouldn't be made miserable by feeling obligated to get [announcements] out by a deadline," Renner and Pflock say. "Your baby arrived on its own timeline, so feel free to send announcements on your own timeline too."

    Who Should You Send the Birth Announcement To?

    This is entirely up to you, but consider including anyone you would want to contact personally--family, friends, and those in your immediate circle, Post Senning says. "You don't have to go through your entire holiday card list; just stick to the people who you feel connected to and who may feel hurt if they don't receive one," she says. "There's no rule that you should or shouldn't send an announcement to someone."

    Should You Send Paper or Electronic Announcements?

    The type of announcements you choose to send depends on your preference and what you think family and friends will appreciate. Electronic announcements can definitely be more cost-effective, but printed announcements are lovely as keepsakes. Fortunately, both versions are perfectly acceptable. "No one says you can't do a little of each," Renner and Pflock say. "We all have those friends and relatives who would love to see something in the mail and those who are just as happy to see it online."

    Try applying the same rules to your announcements as you would to thank-you cards. If you prefer to send handwritten thank-you notes, you may prefer to send printed announcements. Send a quick, electronic update right after the birth and then mail announcements later to grandparents or family members who may not be online, Post Senning says. Or send paper versions only to people closest to you and electronic announcements to those outside of your immediate circle.

    Handing out little gifts, like cigars wrapped with a blue or pink band, is also a traditional way to celebrate your baby's birth, Post Senning says, though it may not be as common as it used to be. If you want to honor this tradition without a cigar, give out celebratory chocolate or candy along with the birth announcement or, if there's room, have the announcement printed on it.

    How Should You Use Social Media to Share a Birth Announcement?

    Sharing your special news on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (either by posting a photo of the announcement or by sharing a photo with announcement details) can help you save time and reach everyone in your network—without the hassle of collecting updated mailing and email addresses or leaving anyone out. But with so many ways to spread the word about your baby, keep these things in mind before you post a birth announcement online:

    • Show pictures of your newborn after he's been cleaned up and dressed up, Post Senning says. It can be a picture of just the baby or get the new older siblings involved by taking a picture of the whole family.
    • Share similar details that you would on a paper birth announcement (name, birth date, and gender), but it's okay to be a little more informal with the language.
    • If you want to be the first and only person to share the news online, remind any family members or friends not to post pictures or status updates about the baby until you've done so, Post Senning says.
    • Consider making your post (and your social media accounts in general) private so only friends and family members can see and access the announcement.

    You can create an official page for your family and close friends on Facebook so you can update them all at once, Renner and Pflock say, or send them information via Facebook through private messages. Or create a Google+ circle to post baby updates and then host a video hangout to introduce everyone face-to-face to your baby.

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