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Originally published Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 7:05 PM

Diaper parties: Dad-to-be's answer to baby showers

A "kegs for diapers" party?

Contra Costa Times

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Not a single blue decoration was in sight. No one exchanged baby advice, or played games that involved sniffing melted chocolate in diapers.

Instead, the baby shower for Esteban Guzman of San Leandro, Calif., involved a lot of beer, barbecued meat and a highly anticipated game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers.

"It was just a bunch of guys who have no idea about babies but wanted to help their buddy out," says Guzman, 34, recalling the "kegs for diapers" party he had last October, when his girlfriend, Noemi, was pregnant with their now 8-month-old son, Dante. "And if they did have advice, I probably wouldn't have taken it since they're a bunch of knuckleheads."

Modern fathers are more involved than ever in prenatal care and their babies' first years, but they like to celebrate the milestone their way.

Good grub. Alcohol. Bad jokes. Most daddy showers, or diaper parties as they are called because guests bring diapers in lieu of gifts, lack the frills of traditional baby showers. But experts say the purpose is the same: to support the parent-to-be as he transitions into this new life passage.

Luckily for Guzman, it's football season, so he sent out an email to his buddies. Come over Sunday afternoon, it said. I'm buying a keg and firing up the grill.

Ed, Esteban's older brother, a father of two, arrived with six boxes of diapers. He knew from coed baby showers he'd attended with his wife that this affair would not involve dreaded games or favors. There would be no wrapping paper to throw away. No gift registry to follow.

"Guys don't do those kinds of things," says Ed, 40. "It was more of a handshake and congratulations and, 'OK, where's the food?"'

Also missing were the war stories, Ed says. "No one talked about how difficult it is to breast-feed or how you don't get any sleep when you have a baby. It was more of a celebration."

Another guest, Joe Fernandez, a bachelor who made his first trip to Babies R Us for the occasion, says the diaper party was a way to help Esteban close one chapter in his life and begin another.

"Time becomes much more precious when somebody becomes a father and you don't see them as often, so you want to send them off properly," says Fernandez, 35, of Walnut Creek, Calif.

Men are much more involved in the baby world than they were even a generation ago, so cultivating networks with like-minded guys is just as crucial as it is for Mom, says Judy Levit, an Oakland, Calif., marriage and family therapist.

"They don't talk about their feelings, but they know why they're there," Levit says of diaper parties. "If they're going to be up all night with the baby and changing diapers, they need guys they can talk to. If they're going to be supporting their wives, they need support."

As much as the diaper party is dad's last hurrah with the boys, it's important to keep it casual, says Athena Serapio, a San Bruno, Calif., event planner.

"I think men ... wouldn't want too much fuss and fluff," says Serapio. "No favors, no décor and possibly no baby games at all."

You can play around with themes such as poker or football, but remember, no gifts. Just diapers.

Guzman's friends were so generous, he and Noemi didn't have to purchase a single diaper until just last month.

"It was very touching for me to see them come together like that," he says. "They even brought different sizes. That was what I was most shocked by."

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