Baby cards 101: your questions answered

Baby cards

Having a baby is one of the most exciting moments in a family’s life, and it is customary for friends and other family members to help mark the occasion with cards, gifts and visits. Baby cards are one of the most important parts of this, since it lets you communicate meaningfully with your friend and provides a great memento for years to come. Baby cards from friends and family often end up in memory boxes, scrapbooks and baby books for the child to look back on in the future.

When is a baby card appropriate?

It can be tough to know whether or not to send a baby card. Obviously for a close friend or family member you should send a card, and as a general rule, if you received a baby shower invitation then it’s probably a good idea to acknowledge the birth. But baby cards are one of those things that aren’t strictly required, which can cause a lot of confusion. What about a distant relative, colleague or acquaintance? Should you send a baby card to them? The only time a baby card is good etiquette is if you received a mailed baby announcement card, which means most of the time it’s all down to whether or not you want to send a card.

If you’re thinking about sending a card but you’re in doubt, the answer is probably ‘yes’! Go for it! You can adjust the content of the card to an appropriate level for your relationship. The truth is, people are always going to appreciate a card, even if you’re not that close. A card from a long-lost friend or a quiet colleague might make you say “wow, that’s so nice that they thought of us”, but probably not “wow, that’s so weird, what a creep”. Y’know…as long as you don’t write anything creepy.

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When should I send a new baby card?

There’s no official time period on baby cards, but soon after the arrival of the baby is preferable. It’s a new baby card, so you ideally want to send it while the baby is still pretty new. Within a few months is perfect. Most people choose to send a gift as well. Popular gifts at the moment include teething toys, milestone baby cards, natural bath products and decorations for the nursery.

Styles of baby cards

Baby cards traditionally feature pictures of babies or baby accessories: rattles, bottles, onesies, stuffed toys, cribs, and similar bits and pieces. They may also feature cute drawings that look like they come from a child’s picture book, or things kids might be interested in: animals, space, the ocean, butterflies. They are often quite heavily gendered, so expect to see lots of pink and blue.

There’s been a push back against these traditional baby cards, with people increasingly choosing cards that the baby’s mum and dad will love, rather than something geared towards children. Pretty much any card can be a baby card, now, so long as the message isn’t specific to another event.

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Baby card wording samples

Wording a baby card doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Keep it simple! The winning formula is:

  • Name the parents, mother or family (whoever you’re directing the card to)
  • Say congratulations
  • Name the baby (if you know the name)
  • Say something kind about the baby, if you have seen a picture
  • Say something kind about the recipient(s) of the card
  • Congratulate them again
  • Sign your name

For example:

Dear Jenny and Mick,
Congratulations on the arrival of beautiful Emma Jade! She is so perfect. All that hair! Oh my! She is the luckiest little girl in the world to have such wonderful parents. I can’t wait to come and meet her soon. Congratulations.
Love, Norah


Be genuine. If the card is more formal or to someone you are not close to, feel free to skip a step in the formula. For example:


Dear Laura, Chris, Ava and Oscar,

Congratulations on your newest family member. Joshua is adorable. I hope everything runs smoothly through this time of adjustment.
Best, Luke


Whoever you are writing to, and whatever your relationship, just remember to keep it real, be honest, and say what you mean. The gesture of the card is more important than what you write in it.

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