Rules For Visiting A Newborn

You have just given birth to your first child and the influx of visitors begins. Visiting your newborn is one of the first things that all of your friends and family will want to do when your baby is born.

It is a great idea to make a plan before your newborn arrives. If you do not want to see anyone in the hospital, do not be afraid to share that (even the baby’s grandparents). This time is beautiful and you will not get those first moments back! Having a good plan in place will help when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, and likely sleep deprived.

The hospital stay is fast. It goes by very quickly and it is your time to ask any questions that may come up with your newborn. Having visitors can hinder this. Remember your baby is brand new and you might not want to share at all.

1. BE HELPFUL

 

Having a newborn is a surreal experience. The days go fast and the nights slow. If you want to come visit someone and their newborn be ready to help. Not just to offer it but to actually help. You should never leave the house of a newborn messier than when you arrived. Maybe you just help wash the dishes in the sink while you visit, trust me the new parents will remember this gesture! New parents may not know exactly what they need but a little help goes a long way.

 

2. COME ON THEIR SCHEDULE

 

When you bring home your beautiful bundle of joy, your whole concept of days and nights gets all messed up. Do not come over unannounced. Come when it is convenient for them and be flexible.

 

3. WASH YOUR HANDS

 

This freshly baked newborn is fragile and has an under developed immune system. We carry a lot of bacteria (both good and bad) on our skins, bacteria that newborns have not been exposed to yet and could cause them to be seriously sick. Protect their baby with good hand hygiene.

 

4. STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK

 

This should go without saying but if you are sick, please stay home. Ask for pictures from the new couple and plan a future get together but please do not go see that baby.

 

5. BRING SOMETHING

 

Best of all, ask if they need anything! They likely will need something but if they don’t the best back up option- FOOD. When our son was born we had meal prepped a handful of casseroles that lasted us a while but the fresh food that family brought us was very welcomed. Finding time to cook in the chaos of your new role as mom and dad can be challenging.

 

6. MAKE YOUR VISIT EASY

 

The last thing you want to do after going through a physical trauma (birth or c-section) is play hostess. If you are coming to visit new parents, please do not make it extra work on the parents for you to be present.

 

7. DO NOT OVERSTAY YOUR WELCOME

 

Be in tune with body language and know when it is time to go. If you’re feeling unwelcome, you probably are. New parents have a lot of change in their lives and are happy to share it, but generally still haven’t figured out their own groove yet.

 

8. DON’T EXCLUDE ANYONE

 

We know you are wanting to visit to see this new baby. however, please don’t forget that other people live there. Ask how BOTH mom and dad are. If there is an older sibling, make an effort to play with them and let them know that just because there is a new baby doesn’t mean they are loved any less. Same goes for pets.

9. DON’T BE NOSY

 

Some moms are an open book while others prefer not to dive into the gory details that can be labor. If you ask how labor was and mom says fine, leave it alone. It isn’t your business to know if she is “okay down there.” She is probably not- she just pushed a person out of her! There is no harm in curiosity, so if you are interested try asking, “Would you like to talk about your birth?”

 

10. RESPECT THE PARENT’S WISHES

 

New parents have spent the last nine months (probably longer) thinking about how they would raise their children, starting now. If they do not want the baby to sleep in your arms, respect that. They are creating an environment and habits that work in their life.

 

11. DON’T SHARE THEIR NEWS

 

This is one of the most exciting announcements we get to make today. Do not share the birth of someone else without the parents permission. This is their news. Let them share it. Also be respectful if they do not want pictures of their baby on social media, do not share them.

 

 

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12. AVOID HEAVY SMELLS

 

Newborns as well as hormonal moms can be sensitive to strong smells. Avoid things like perfume, cigarette smoke, and lotions with fragrance before going to visit a newborn and their new parents.

13. SHHH, BE QUIET

 

Try and keep a calm and quiet voice while visiting a newborn. They can be easily startled and overstimulated, but in addition, new parents are experiencing a lot of change. With that comes anxiety and high emotions. Coming into their home and being loud can make that worse. Also do not wake their baby up if the baby is sleeping. Sleep is precious these days for both parents and baby.

14. DON’T ASK ABOUT SLEEP

I cannot tell you how many people asked in the first day, “is your baby sleeping? oh well my baby did blah blah blah…” We had just brought him home, he literally is not even 24 hours old, cut us a break. It is not normal for a newborn to sleep through the night and asking about it could make the parents feel bad and add to their stress. Instead, try asking if they would like to nap while you watch the baby.

 

15. DON’T ASSUME YOUR KIDS ARE WELCOME

 

When you ask to come visit a newborn, please ask if it is ok to bring your children. Parents often are too polite to outright tell you that is too much stimulation for us right now. Remember they are adjusting and to respect that you are coming into their space. Plus your kids may also have germs that their baby’s immune system is not ready for.

 

16. YOU MIGHT NOT HOLD THE BABY

 

This life that was just brought into the world is brand new, not just to you the visitor, but also to mom and dad. They have not had a huge amount of time to get to know this person and they might not be ready to let other people hold him/her. That is ok. Do not assume that they will automatically let you hold their newborn.

17. WATCH FOR HUNGER CUES

 

If you do hold the newborn,  please don’t ignore hunger cues. Give the baby back if they are rooting or fussy so their mom can nurse/feed them.

 

18. NO KISSES PLEASE

 

Newborns are not the place for kisses. They are precious and we want to show our love, but kisses are exposing them to germs their immune systems may not be ready to handle.

 

19. DO NOT STARE DURING NURSING

 

If you are visiting a newborn and her mother is nursing, please remember you are in her home and it is her right to feed her baby how she would like. Do not stare at her if she feeds her baby in front of you. She is likely still trying to figure out the best system for her and her newborn and may not be comfortable using a nursing cover yet. If you are uncomfortable, this is a great time to take some initiative and do the dishes!

Also instead of saying things like, “Are you breastfeeding?” or “You’re not using formula?” if you have something to say about the baby’s eating something like this may be a better alternative, “He looks so healthy!” It is not important how a mom chooses to feed her baby and it may be different then your choices.

 

20. THEY MIGHT NOT BE “IN LOVE”

 

As mentioned before, being a new parent can bring some negative emotions, anxiety, and stress. Please don’t be surprised if you visit a newborn and new parents and the parents cry, or don’t even say they are not “in love” with their baby. They are adjusting to one of the biggest changes they will ever go through in their life. They just met this person, and for a lot of people it is not love at first sight, but rather a growing relationship.

 

21. BE A GOOD LISTENER

 

When you visit a newborn and new parents, plan on not doing a lot of talking. Remember this life changing thing just happened to them and they may just need some support. Make good eye contact and don’t offer up advice unless they ask for it. If they need it, they will ask you.

 

22. SAVE YOUR HAND-ME-DOWNS

 

Most moms love hand-me-downs! The time to bring them is before baby arrives, or after they are settled. Not while you are visiting a newborn. Bringing a new mom a trash bag full of clothes (which she will love and be grateful for) looks a lot like laundry to a new mom. Please don’t bring her boxes/bags of goodies until she is settled in.

As much as we all love the smell of newborns, this list of rules for visiting a newborn is really the best way to support your friends/family who are welcoming their new baby. Remember this is a crazy time in their life and that it is not about you today.

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