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Fathers-to-be get their own baby showers male style

At baby showers, friends shower moms-to-be with gifts to prepare them for motherhood with a fun, social time.

But what about the fathers• They are about to become parents, too. Why should moms get all the attention?

Many American men are joining in on the fun by throwing "diaper parties" -- the male equivalent of a baby shower.

At a diaper party, buddies get together with the soon-to-be dad. Rather than heading to the baby registry for gift ideas, they simply arrive with a box of diapers, helping to stock up supplies before the big day.

Instead of playing baby-shower bingo, activities include male-oriented pastimes -- bottles of beer, watching sports and videogame challenges. It's casual and low key.

"The key thing is get involved early, and I think this is a great idea," says Bob Brinker. He is a parent educator with Greensburg-based ParentWISE, a program of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania. "Everybody asks how mom's doing, but nobody asks how dad's doing."

The more and earlier a father can get involved with the pregnancy and parenting experience, the better, Brinker says. Men may be uncomfortable with the idea of diapers, but they need to learn.

"It isn't about comfort; it's just about getting used to it, and you do that by getting involved," Brinker says.

New parents easily spending $70 per month on diapers, says Alan Lasky -- one of the operators of the babyshower101.com website -- so a diaper party helps the new parents in a very practical way.

"Especially with the economy, it's one of the best gifts you can give with how expensive diapers are ... because you go through so many of them," Lasky says. His website -- owned by I-Volution, Inc. in the Los Angeles area -- gets about 500,000 hits a month, with a lot of feedback about these kinds of male showers.

People often have the diaper parties at someone's home, sometimes with a cookout. Men sometimes have the parties at a bar or restaurant. Sometimes, the men get together to play poker, and they ante up with boxes of diapers, he says.

Diaper parties fit well with modern dads, who do more diaper-changing than their predecessors, Lasky says.

"The father wants to be more involved and not kind of left out until the end of the party," he says. "That's why the new parties are springing up. It's a nice way for the ... guys to get together and have a bonding experience."

It's all part of the increasing role of dads in the parenting process, Lasky says.

Adam Cannon -- owner of the Happy Baby Co., a Robinson store that sells cloth diapers and other environmentally friendly baby products -- says it's a generational thing. His own father probably never changed diapers or got involved with buying them, but Cannon -- a father of four children younger than 7 -- gets very involved with parental responsibilities. He says customers are often surprised the store is his. When they come in, they expect to find his wife.

"People are bucking a lot of traditions," says Cannon, lives with his wife, Lillian, and their kids in Sewickley. "A lot of my customers are very involved parents every step of the way. I don't get a lot of people who come in with that stereotype ... 'My husband won't touch that.' "

Cannon, 32, says he has seen many co-ed baby showers. Some mothers-to-be will have one traditional, females-only shower -- and then another party with men and women, often complete with beer.

A note to buddies attending a diaper party: When faced with the huge stash and variety of disposable diapers in a store, note that they are designated by size.

You can't go wrong with diapers designed for newborns. And if you pick up a larger size, remember: Babies will grow into them.

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